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Question: Slow data transfer to Time Machine

I am backing up 350 GB of data from my hard drive to a new Time Machine volume, and the process is so slow that it will take several days to complete. Is this normal, should I just let it run, or just give up?

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I would let it run and then see how it does on future backups. The first backup is normally very slow.

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Dec 10, 2017 11:21 AM in response to eagledavid1 In response to eagledavid1

A 2007 Mac would have USB 2.0 ports which have a maximum bandwidth of 480 Mbps. The same as the USB ports on the Apple base stations.


Ref: List of device bit rates - Wikipedia


The actual data throughput will be based on, at least, three things:

  1. The USB port's limitations.
  2. The Mac's CPU.
  3. The USB drive's processor, data buffers, and disc rotational speed.

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Dec 10, 2017 10:51 AM in response to eagledavid1 In response to eagledavid1

For reference, a Time Machine backup typically runs around 25-30 GB/hr over an Ethernet connection to a Time Capsule. It will be demonstrably slower over wireless. The "worst case" scenario would be a Time Machine backup to a USB drive attached to a Time Capsule or AirPort Extreme base that could be half that. You may get better results with a directly attached Thunderbolt drive to your Mac.

Dec 10, 2017 10:51 AM

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Dec 10, 2017 11:21 AM in response to eagledavid1 In response to eagledavid1

A 2007 Mac would have USB 2.0 ports which have a maximum bandwidth of 480 Mbps. The same as the USB ports on the Apple base stations.


Ref: List of device bit rates - Wikipedia


The actual data throughput will be based on, at least, three things:

  1. The USB port's limitations.
  2. The Mac's CPU.
  3. The USB drive's processor, data buffers, and disc rotational speed.

Dec 10, 2017 11:21 AM

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Dec 10, 2017 11:29 AM in response to eagledavid1 In response to eagledavid1

You didn't mention which exact Mac that you have, but if it has Firewire 800 ports, you may want to consider getting an external drive enclosure that supports this. You can get around 2x the bandwidth of USB 2.0.


FWIW. I have used such enclosures from NewerTech with great success.

Dec 10, 2017 11:29 AM

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Dec 11, 2017 9:16 AM in response to eagledavid1 In response to eagledavid1

I'm not aware of a FireWire 500 standard. There should be 100, 200, 400, or 800. Macs, that have them, came with either 400 or 800 or both ports.


If you meant to say 400, then these have a max. bandwidth of 393 Mbps, even less than USB 2.0.

Dec 11, 2017 9:16 AM

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Dec 11, 2017 9:59 AM in response to Tesserax In response to Tesserax

Here is the full description of the hard drive. I figure it will take 10 days to complete the transfer -- as long as the Mac doesn't shut down for some reason!


FireWire Bus:



Maximum Speed: Up to 800 Mb/sec


WD5000AAKB-00YSA:



Manufacturer: Initio


Model: 0x540


GUID: 0x10100540111146


Maximum Speed: Up to 400 Mb/sec


Connection Speed: Up to 400 Mb/sec

Dec 11, 2017 9:59 AM

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Question: Slow data transfer to Time Machine