CSL: Mac OS X Time Machine

MacOS users can now use Time Machine to backup files to a lab-maintained filesystem.

A directory called timemachine on the project area on the SAMBA server has been created for use by MacOS users to back up their files:


Users should consult the FAQs concerning using SAMBA shares, as well as connecting to shares from outside the CS network.

Following are the steps necessary to get a Mac to use Time Machine on a networked drive:

In a terminal window you will need to do the following:
defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

Next, you will need the following information:

Machine name:
Ethernet address:

These can be found by going to the About this Mac under the Apple, then selecting "more info". The machine name should appear at the top of the window. Selecting "Network", then Ethernet and scrolling down should show you the ethernet address.

Next, open a terminal, change to a directory with lots of available space and type this:

hdiutil create -library SPUD -volname "timemachine backup" -size 50g -fs HFS+J -type SPARSEBUNDLE MACHINENAME_ETHERNET.sparsebundle

Where MACHINENAME and ETHERNET are what you got from the previous command. You can set the size to whatever you want really, I just set mine to 50GB. After this, mount share using "Go"->"Connect to Server", and connecting to smb://share.cs.duke.edu/project/timemachine/username. Then you can copy over the image you made using this command:

cp -r MACHINENAME_ETHERNET.sparsebundle /Volumes/username/

After that, you should be able to crank up Time Machine, select the network volume and tell it to backup. You will know if it is going to work if the volume automatically mounts on the desktop.

Users should be able to access this space and create a directory for themselves. Then time machine can be set up to use that space as an backup. This should only be considered an emergency backup for selected documents and directories, and not something to be used as a full restore. For full backups, the lab runs a Retrospect backup server which is more suitable for this purpose. Faculty may request regularly shceduled backups from this server.

Currently, there is 2TB of space set aside for Time Machine users; if needed this can be expanded. Please let the Lab Staff know if the service works for you, and we can consider a wider rollout. Vista and Windows 7 (will) also have similar features as time machine which others might find useful.

If you need assistance, please contact the Lab Staff.