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MacVal Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I just noticed that my Time Machine backups are taking an unusually long time. So when the last one finished, I immediately ran a second backup with Time Machine preferences open so I could watch the progress bar. It said it was “Preparing (about) 3,200 Items...” for a total of 660 KB. The backup took about 6 or 7 minutes. This now happens every time TM does a backup.

 

Obviously this is very wrong given that only a few seconds had passed between backups and nothing had changed. There should have been a handful of items to prepare, and the backup should have taken a few seconds. I installed TimeTracker, and it showed a few dozen items had been backed up. I made sure to open every folder/subfolder but found nothing that would account for 3,200 items.

 

Anyone have any idea what might be going on?


MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.8)
  • MacVal Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Still hoping someone can help with this. I have more information.

     

    I tried a full reset of Time machine as per Pondini's instructions, but the issue persists and actually seems to be getting worse. On average TM now reports that it is preparing about 6,700 items.

     

    I have also discovered that when backing up my internal drive only, TM on average reports that it is preparing about 6,700 items. When I plug in my external storage drive it reports that it is preparing 19,000 items. It would seem that this isn't something specific to one drive... TM seems to be finding phantom files on every drive.

  • Richard Pitcairn Level 2 Level 2 (255 points)

    I am having the same issue. I just looked at what were the largest files on my computer, like Music and Movies, some backup folders and in the Options choice exluded them. Don't know yet if it will make any difference but, like you, would like to hear solution. Now takes an hour or more to back up every time.

  • MacVal Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I didn't know what else to do, so I erased and reformatted my TM drive, deleted the TM preference file and completely started from scratch.

     

    It didn't work. TM is still finding thousands of "phantom" files every time it backs up, and the backups are taking forever.

     

    Any ideas would be appreciated.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    Verify your internal HD, and Repair your backups, per #A5 in Time Machine - Troubleshooting.

     

    If that doesn't help, your installation of OSX may be damaged.  Try downloading and installing the "combo" update, per  Installing the ''combo'' update and/or Reinstalling OSX.

     

    If still no help, try installing a fresh version of OSX (that won't disturb anything else), per the same article.

  • MacVal Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the suggestions. I gave them all a try, and in the end you were correct in thinking there could be an issue with the OS. Nothing worked until I completely reinstalled 10.6.0 from the CD (leaving my files in tact). I ran a TM backup several times and confirmed that everything was working correctly, then ran the 10.6.8 combo update and the supplemental update I downloaded earlier.

     

    After updating I ran TM again, and unfortunately the problem returned. I reinstalled from the CD a 2nd time, ran TM, and again all was well. I then tried using Software Update to upgrade to 10.6.8, but did not apply the supplemental upgrade. Still no luck. As soon as I upgrade, TM no longer works properly.

     

    I can’t think of what else to try other than a complete erase and install, then reinstall all my software from scratch. If I do that, I’m wondering what I can do to minimize the odds of transferring the issue back onto the computer. Do you think my TM backup would be safe to use if I only transfer my documents and folders and did NOT transfer any application preferences or system stuff? Or should I scrap my TM backup and simply drag and drop all my files onto my external drive?

     

    Thanks.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    Very strange. 

     

    Sounds like OSX, not something with a 3rd-party app.  Save the "nuclear option" for a while. 

     

    You might try reinstalling OSX again, but install the 10.6.7 combo, not 10.6.8.

  • MacVal Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Strange indeed. I reinstalled again from the CD then tried the 10.6.7 combo update. Time Machine appears to be working properly now. I had been using 10.6.8 since it was released, so I find it odd that this would begin happening after all this time. I haven’t made any serious changes to my system lately, although I did install Apple Remote Desktop just before the problem started. Could just be a coincidence.

     

    Although it is working under 10.6.7, it still makes me nervous to just leave it as is. There must be something corrupt that is still in my system, somewhere outside the OS, that is conflicting with 10.6.8.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    MacVal wrote:

     

    Strange indeed. I reinstalled again from the CD then tried the 10.6.7 combo update. Time Machine appears to be working properly now. I had been using 10.6.8 since it was released, so I find it odd that this would begin happening after all this time.

    Certainly does seem odd. 

     

    I haven’t made any serious changes to my system lately, although I did install Apple Remote Desktop just before the problem started. Could just be a coincidence.

    Might be a clue.  You might want to wait a while, to be sure it's really gone from 10.6.7, then reinstall that.  

     

     

    Although it is working under 10.6.7, it still makes me nervous to just leave it as is. There must be something corrupt that is still in my system, somewhere outside the OS, that is conflicting with 10.6.8.

    Seems incredibly unlikely to affect Time Machine, but it could be something went wrong with the Remote Desktop install, and/or the combination with 10.6.8.

  • MacVal Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Well, I'm at a complete loss.

     

    I decided to go the "nuclear" option. I reformatted (and zeroed out) my drive, reinstalled Snow Leopard, did all the updates, and reinstalled my software (did not install Apple Remote Desktop this time, just to see). I dragged my files back over but NOT from the Time Machine backup. I backed them up to my external drive separately via drag and drop.

     

    I then reformatted (and zeroed out) my TM external, and ran Time Machine. When it was done I ran TM a second time. It "prepared" about 85,000 files for 1.6 GB (I changed nothing) then began backing up at a rate of about 1 KB every 2 seconds.

     

    I just don't get it. Any chance this is hardware related? I installed a new internal drive about 6 months ago, could it be a dud? Of course 10.6.7 seems to be ok, and 10.6.8 isn't, so it seems to be software. I guess I can try rolling back to 10.6.7 again, but this is still just plain worrisome, not to mention frustrating. I've been putting off Lion due to some software I have that isn't quite ready for it yet, but I wonder if I should give it a try.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    Very odd. 

     

    Let's go back to basics, just to be sure I haven't missed anything:

     

    You have a MacBook Pro, with a single internal HD with a single partition, right?

     

    Your TM volume has the GUID partition map scheme and a single Mac OS Extended (journalled) or Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, journalled) partition?

     

    Are any externals connected (other than the TM volume) when doing backups?

     

    Any anti-virus software (running or not)?

  • MacVal Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    You have a MacBook Pro, with a single internal HD with a single partition, right?

    Correct

     

    Your TM volume has the GUID partition map scheme and a single Mac OS Extended (journalled) or Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, journalled) partition?

    Yes, GUID partition map, Mac OS Extended (journalled)

     

    Are any externals connected (other than the TM volume) when doing backups?

    I do have one other external, which I would normally back up as well, but I wanted to keep the variables to a minimum so I did not have it plugged in when I did this last round of testing.

     

    Any anti-virus software (running or not)?

    No

     

    Very odd. 

    Completely crazy in fact! I realize now that I should have done a TM backup immediately after reinstalling the OS, and then at several intervals as I reinstalled software. I would have had a better idea of whether the issue is coming from the OS or whether it is related to something I am installing. I didn't think to try that... I guess I just assumed that a complete reinstall would have to work.

     

    When I reinstalled my software I didn't drag any of the old preference files back over either, just in case something was corrupted. And everything I installed software-wise has been running on 10.6.8 forever with no issues. The only exceptions were Apple Remote Desktop, which I did not reinstall this time, and a new generation of Plex media server I've been trying out, which I recently upgraded to from an older version.

     

    I assume there is no way that any my documents could cause strange system behaviour?

     

    And one more thing I forgot to mention. At times both before and after this rebuild when I've been playing around with TM preferences (selecting the drive, setting which folders to exclude) my CPU will run very high (can't recall the % exactly) and my fans will kick into high gear. Obviously this is not normal, especially with nothing else running at the time. Something is clearly messing with TM.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    MacVal wrote:

    . . .

    When I reinstalled my software I didn't drag any of the old preference files back over either, just in case something was corrupted. And everything I installed software-wise has been running on 10.6.8 forever with no issues. The only exceptions were Apple Remote Desktop, which I did not reinstall this time, and a new generation of Plex media server I've been trying out, which I recently upgraded to from an older version.

    In theory, a incompatible or faulty kernel extension could cause this, but it's highly doubtful.

     

    I assume there is no way that any my documents could cause strange system behaviour?

    Never say never, but highly unlikely.

     

     

    At times both before and after this rebuild when I've been playing around with TM preferences (selecting the drive, setting which folders to exclude) my CPU will run very high (can't recall the % exactly) and my fans will kick into high gear. Obviously this is not normal, especially with nothing else running at the time. Something is clearly messing with TM.

    Ah, yes, very suspicious.  I don't recall seeing this before.

     

    Perhaps the preference file (where all that is kept) is damaged. Try a "full reset" of Time Machine, per #A5 in Time Machine - Troubleshooting

     

    If that doesn't help:

     

    Are you running any 3rd-party disk/directory monitoring apps, such as the Directory Protection feature of Tech Tools?

     

    Does that happen with other pages in System Preferences?

     

    Does it happen in a different user account (if you don't have one, create one via System Prefs > Accounts).  You'll have to unlock the panel to make changes from a non-Admin account.

     

    If none of that provides any light, a clue may be lurking in your logs.  See the tan box in OSX Log Files to locate your system.log, then the blue box to decipher it.  Use the technique in the Monitoring the log ... section to see if any messages appear while you're using the TM Prefs window.  If they do, copy and post them (or, if there are a lot of them, a reasonable portion) here.

     

    Message was edited by: Pondini

  • David Horowitz Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    I have 3 Macs, all running 10.6.8 that appear to back up way too many files with TM (between 10,000 and 60,000 every backup).  Each machine reached 10.6.8 by a different route; each machine backs up to a different drive (one is an FW400, one is an FW800, and the last is a Time Capsule); one machine is an MBP, one is an iMac, and the last is a Mini.  None of them had this problem until very recently.  On my MBP, I've had to disable TM because it runs endlessly, slowing down the machine and running down the battery, and I'm going to have to turn it off on the other ones because neither of them is new enough to run TM without slowing down.  I went to the Apple Store genius with my MBP and was told that I should file a bug report with Apple.  I had been running TM on all these machines without problems (or usage) for years.  I am inclined to think that there's something wrong with TM in 10.6.8.  (I have not installed the newest update yet, because all the computers run PPC programs.)

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    I can understand how you'd think that, but it's not a general problem.  Lots of folks (the vast majority) run Time Machine on 10.6.8 without that problem, so it's something else.

     

    Since it's happening on all 3 of your Macs, I'd suspect a 3rd-party app or kernel extension, if you have the same one(s) on all 3. 

     

    If you haven't yet, try the things in my previous post.

     

    And/or, yes, report it to Apple.  See Reporting a Problem to Apple.

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