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Howto Mac OS X Time Machine Backup to a Network Drive

I do not own a Time Capsule, I do not plan to get one, nor do i want to connect a usb disk every time i feel like making a backup of my stuff. What i do have however is a wireless network and a Windows 7 PC. Why not use the available disk space in my PC for the backups of my Macbook Pro? I found out how to Time Machine Backup to a Network Drive…

In Snow Leopard it was still possible with a few tweaks and manual image file creation to get the OS to actually backup over the Network onto a Windows NTFS disk. Hoozah! In Lion (MacOSX 10.7.2) there is even another step required to get the backup process running. Using just step 1 it will fail with the message ‘The network backup disk does not support the required AFP features’.

1. So besides the same steps as in Snow Leopard to prepare the Backup Image File (my previous post) you will also need to…

2. Download and run the script from this file to modify backupd in such a way that it accepts remote disk on the network share: backupd_anyafp_r2 – just unpack and run ./ from the terminal.

Thanks to msft.guy for the script!

PS: I still get the feeling that the backup of a FileVault encrypted home directory even on Lion still doesn’t work while being logged in. Meh.

Correction: I had to switch to FileVault2. Now the whole disk is encrypted and my guess is Time Machine can handle that…

What if I still can’t find my share in TimeMachine?
(added 24. Jan. 2013)

Here is a checklist what I would try then:

  1. close the preferences or even reboot after running the script above.
  2. Find out your Computer Name:
    1. Go to Apple menu > System Preferences and click Sharing.
    2. Note the computer name appearing at the top of the window.
      – For example “ZergasMacbook”.
  3. Find your MAC address:
    1. In Apple menu, select System Preferences...
    2. From the View menu in System Preferences, select Network.
    3. In the left column of the Network preference window that opens, click the name of your connection ( Ethernet or Built-in Ethernet).
    4. Click the Advanced... button, and in the dropdown, click the Hardware or Ethernet tab.
    5. The address is the string of letters and numbers next to “MAC Address:” or “Ethernet ID:”.
      – For example “00:15:20:aa:fe:a1”.
  4. Create your sparsebundle:
    1. Follow the steps described in my guide: Create a sparsebundle on your Mac manually with the name “ComputerName_MACaddressWithoutColons.sparsebundle” and move it into the shared folder on the windows machine.
      – In the case of the examples above it would be “ZergasMacbook_001520aafea1.sparsebundle”.
  5. Connect to the share:
    1. On your Mac, in Finder go to the menu Go -> Connect to Server…
    2. Choose the share with the sparsebundle in it on your Windows computer. The share will now be mounted under Volumes with the name of the share folder you gave in windows.
      – For example let’s call the directory “MacBackup” on the computer “WindowsPC” then you a folder on your Mac called “/Volumes/MacBackup”.
  6. Mount the sparsebundle:
    1. Open a terminal and mount the sparsebundle as a drive under /Volumes on your mac by typing: hdiutil attach -verbose /Volumes/MacBackup/ZergasMacbook_001520aafea1.sparsebundle
      You can also just double-click on it to mount (thanks, mike!).
  7. Connect the sparsebundle:
    1. Now add the sparsebundle as the Time Machine destination with the terminal by typing: sudo tmutil setdestination /Volumes/mounted_sparse_bundle
  8. Then try starting the preferences and go to TimeMachine looking for the sparsebundle again.

BTW: In the terminal you can hit TAB and OSX will complete the name of a file or folder you were about to write. Like this you dont have to type all the sparsebundle file name.

Good luck!

Sanity Saver #2: Mouse Acceleration in MacOSX

picture via

I only work on a MacBook Pro once in a while, and every time i do i am wondering why it feels so edgy and not-smooth-at-all… I always thought it was the extremely low resolution those things offer, but now i know what makes a huge difference: its the ridiculous exponential mouse acceleration! Luckily i found a System Pane that you can install to set it to a ‘right’ feel:

Sanity Saver #1: Secure Empty Trash on MacOSX

Since Leopard, emptying the trash was taking HOURS to complete because of the system’s default to actually overwrite all bits of a deleted file. Even though this might be secure to a certain degree, it is still BS for everyday use, because first of all not all data is that sensitive, second it drains battery and third it decreases your harddrive’s life expectancy and most importantly: it just takes too long. I finally found the option to turn this thing off:

  1. Go to Finder preferences
  2. Go to Advanced
  3. Untick “Empty Trash securely”

I know its not a big thing,but… before you apple fanboys are sending me your facepalms: I am not a regular user (just using a macbook pro on the road) and things like this can really drive me crazy and i do not know intuitively where to look for them on mac. So i was very happy to find this little Sanity Saver. Still wondering why i can’t just select between “Empty Trash” and “Empty Trash Securely” in the moment he is anyway popping up a confirmation dialog…

Open = Evil?

Seriously. W.T.F.! Why are Apple Fanboys™ so afraid of open systems? Blogs and tweets are full of hate against open systems now. Did i miss on something that changed lately? Especially with the rise of Android (which just surpassed sales of the iPhone™ this year in Switzerland) the iPhone™ users seem to start to panic. Stop that! Why panic?! Just choose which phone works best for you! Is using the best phone on the market suddenly a sacrilege? Reminds me pretty much of some more radical religions… Why do you think people start switching to something like Android?  The iPhone™ is just perfect, right? No, it is not! And before you can even type a comment: no, the Android is not perfect either!

So what is it then? It’s not the slicker user interface! Not that the UI is that bad on Android, but to be honest the apps on iPhone™ just are a bit more sexy. No, I believe it is the fact that users realize that open stuff does give you some freedom and responsibilities – both of which getting taken away from people more and more in all aspects of life. Here is a list of things i believe are the most important reasons users start switching from iPhone™ Religion to Freedom, I mean… Android now:

  1. A lot of apps which are available on both phones are either cheaper or even free on Android
  2. You (as the user) are not forced to give your identity to anyone on Android
  3. You can choose the source of your apps on Android, on iPhone™ there is only the App Store™, which is heavily observed and controlled by Apple™
  4. You can choose the hardware that you like the most (for example do you prefer softkeys or keyboard, you want more battery life or 20cm HD display, you like to fold the phone somehow to cover the display? You want it to come slim or in cubes? Round or edgy? European or Asian?)

Please follow a clockwise path through the Temple™ while gently touching each of the relics on the tables in order to receive your personal blessing from Our Guru™.

Just recently the Apple Fanboys™ among my friends started complaining about the huge number of phones available with Android. I must admit that a lot of things to choose from might be overwhelming especially if you are not very informed in that particular area of expertise, but on the other hand it’s also not that difficult to browse some forums, go to a store and listen to the experts there and then just choose (!) a phone. In fact, you can choose depending on your taste or experience with other phones before – and it is not dictated to you what you should like from now on. By this process, some phones get more popular than others and those are the ones that evolve. Good concepts are taken over to the next generation of other phones as well, the rest dies out (i must admit, maybe too slowly but they die out).

It’s called diversity and it’s a good thing! Evolution has been succesfully doing that for millions of years! Adapting to requirements (in this case yours, the user) and getting better in each iteration.

But actually i am not in the mood to start a discussion on intelligent design (Steve Jobs™) vs evolution (Linux) – No question about it: I definitely want to take part in evolution (not get dictated a design) and nothing is going to change that right now. Stop complaining, switch phones or don’t, but go back to your Apple Store Temples™ and pray that after the evolution your species is not becoming the target of iXtinction™…

BlindType – Smart Keyboard for Touchscreens

One of the biggest problems of a touchscreen i always imagined seems to have a solution now: using a keyboard on small touchscreen is a challenge that needs practice. Nearly anyone who ever tried it for the first time might agree with me on that one. But even if you think your finger aiming came to a perfection, you always hold the phone in a slightly different angle and your surroundings might shake your whole body while the bus is hitting that one curve too fast. Whatever the reason, your fingers are not lying fixed on the keys like on a “real” keyboard. BlindType is supposed to solve that problem by automatically adjusting the keyboards position and size to where your fingers hit. By the relative position of your key hits and the most probable word you are typing it figures out the position of the keyboard you are actually using (even without you consciously knowing it).


Howto convince MacOSX Time Machine to backup on Samba Network Share (Win/Linux)

This evening i was trying out how to use Time Machine on my Mac. Unfortunately I am kind of short on external harddrives at the moment. Here is the full list of steps i did to make my Mac surrender and actually backup over the network onto my windows network share…

  1. Create a read/write windows network share on the target system.
  2. Mount the network share in your mac.
  3. Open a terminal in mac and enter “defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1” – this makes Time Machine accept non-local, non-HFS drives…
  4. Open Time Machine and voila: you see the network share.
  5. Select the network share and wait for the backup process to start. Observe the network share and copy the filename which is created by Time Machine, since we want to create this file for it. The process will end with an error. I found out that Time Machine is unable to create the so-called sparsebundle file.
  6. Open “Disk Utility” on the Mac and create a new image.
  7. Save your new image with the filename like the one created by Time Machine. The name should be something like “ComputerName_MACAddress.sparsebundle”. ATTENTION: The MACAddress HAS to be the MACAddress of the Ethernet, no matter which interface you use for backup. I was trying the backup over wifi and Time Machine created a file with the wifi MACAddress. For some reason this doesnt work. Its possible to backup over wifi, but use the Ethernet MACAddress in the filename. The volume name however can be whatever you like. Custom volume size must be the last value set.
  8. Change partition to “No Partition Map”
  9. Change Image Format to “Sparce Bundle Disk Image”
  10. Set “Custom Volume size” to the maximum you want to use on your remote location. Dont worry, as your Mac doesnt have to have the required space available you can choose whatever is available on your network share.
  11. Save the image and move it to the network share.
  12. Start the Time Machine process again.
Voila! My backup seems to be running now (around 2% finished) and i will keep it running over night. In case anything goes wrong i will write it here. If you have any trouble, feel free to contact me… good luck!
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