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encrypted TimeMaschine – never ending story

5 03 2011
  • deutsch

In a previous article I described how to setup an encrypted TimeMachine Backup. That used to work fine until a few month ago. I noticed back then that the automatic scheduled backup can’t seem to mount the encrypted volume anymore. However when I click on the TimeMachine icon in the menu bar and select “Backup Now” it will work just fine.

I couldn’t figure out what was the root cause of this behavior. But at least I found a workaround now. There is a free tool to change the schedule of the TimeMachine backups called TimeMachineEditor. This uses an alternate scheduling mechanism to trigger regular backups. I set the schedule to be 1h and it works just fine now.


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how to setup an encrypted Time Machine Backup

23 06 2010
  • deutsch

This screencast shows how to setup encrypted Time Machine Backups as discussed in the article here.

How to setup encrypted Time Machine Backups from Falko Zurell on Vimeo.

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TimeMachine after mainboard switch

25 06 2009
  • deutsch

Imagine you have to switch the mainboard of your Apple computer. More specific: the network card or even more specific the MAC address of your network card. Then your exisiting TimeMachine backup will no longer be recognized as valid. This is because of the fact that the Backup folder on the TimeMachine Volume is tagged with the MAC address of your computer. That should prevent you from accidently using TimeMachine backups from different computers. But will also bring you trouble if your MAC address changes for some reason (as in case of mainboard switch during maintenance).

Unfortunately there is no obvious way to tell TimeMachine to use an pre exisiting Backup. TimeMachine would simply start a new backup if you try to continously use the old Volume. The old Backup folder may be even moved to the Trash on that Volume. Obviously this is not what you want.

But when you try to move the original Backup out of Trash, you’ll notice that even the super user “root” doesn’t have the privileges to do that.

But don’t worry. You’re not all lost. What is causing you the trouble is the fact that the MAC address is somewhere tagged on the Backup folder and that Apple additionally uses ACLs (Access Control Lists) on the backup volume. These are basically some additional security settings which should prevent unauthorized or unwanted changes.

So the easiest way to get the Backup working again is to disable the ACLs on the volume, change the MAC address tag of the Backup folder and the re-enable the ACLs on the volume.

This can be done in the Terminal.app as superuser:

cd /Volumes/TimeMachineBackup
fsaclctl -p /Volumes/TimeMachineBackup -d
xattr -w com.apple.backupd.BackupMachineAddress 00:16:cb:90:62:0d `hostname`
fsaclctl -p /Volumes/TimeMachineBackup -e  

After that your original Backup should be recognized by TimeMachine.

This tutorial was found here: CyberHQ NL

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poor man’s TimeMachine backup

7 01 2009
  • deutsch

If you don’t have MacOS X 10.5 (Leopard) but as well starving for a nice and easy backup then try this shell script. MacOS X provides some simple command line tools for doing a convinient backup out of the box. I wrote a little shell script which sports RSYNC to do regular backups and even archive deleted files for a certain time.

Simply modify your source and destination folder in this script and call it regularly. This can be done with cron. Your contrab entry should look something like this:

0 */2 * * * /Users/youraccount/pmt.sh > /dev/null 2>&1

This will start the script every full 2 hours. Should be sufficient.

# poor man's timemachine backup script
# Author:
# $Date: 2009-01-07 13:46:08 +0100 (Wed, 07 Jan 2009) $
# $Author: fzurell $
# $Revision: 93 $
# $HeadURL: http://fzurell@svn.explain-it.org/trunk/tools/pmt.sh $

# this is where your backup will go
# hence the special character " " ... must be quoted with \
BACKUPDIR=/Volumes/Time\ Machine/pmt

# This is the folder where the Backup should start from
# it will be backed up recursivly

WDAY=`date +%A`
MDAY=`date +%d`

# if you call this script without any parameter
# then deleted files will be archived for one week
# you can optionally choose to keep them one month

case $1 in
		echo "Usage: $0 [woche | monat]"
		exit 10

if [ ! -d "$BACKUPDIR" ]; then
		exit 1

/usr/bin/rsync -a -q --delete -b --backup-dir="$BACKUPDIR/$BDAY" "$SOURCE" "$BACKUPDIR/BACKUP"

if [ $? -eq 0 ]; then
	say "Your Backup finished successfully."
	say "Sorry, there went something wrong with your Backup."

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MacGeeks Podcast # 7 – Online Backup Services

14 12 2008
  • deutsch

This is the 7th episode of our podcast. I did an outdoor recording on online backup services. Please bear with me when I’m a little breathless some times. I was pushing my little boy Hugo around in the Volkspark Friedrichshain. He was sitting on his three wheeler and there are some hills..

I talk about my recent experiences with some Online Storage/Backup Services like Amazon S3, Mozy Home and Backblaze.

Podcast URL: http://www.mac-geeks.de/wp-content/podcasts/podcast.xml
Audio-File: http://media.mac-geeks.de/MGPC7.mp3

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Time Machine annoyances

7 10 2008
  • deutsch

Last weekend I reinstalled MacOS X Leopard on my MacBook Pro for it had some strange errors I couldn’t get rid of. Of course I did a Time Machine backups ahead to have my data safe during reinstallation. I didn’t chose to restore my personal account from a Time Machine backup during the installation as I wanted a clean and fresh system with all programs and settings setup up new and manually. This time I selected to create FileVault user account. This means my home folder is actually an encrypted image file. This image file will be descrypted and mounted as my home directory during login and gets automatically closed and encrypted when I log out.

This worked very well for the first hours. But then during manual installation of some programs and copying my backed up files a kernel panic occured with the grey screen of death. That’s the last thing you wanna see when you have a mounted encrypted image.

After reboot I still was able to login and everything looked OK. But my keychain was damaged. This wasn’t a big problem for the moment as there where only a few apps which made entries there. I repaired the broken keychain and everything was OK.

Then, after finishing my restore I tried to delete the old Time Machine backups from my external disks. This isn’t as easy as it seems. Just dragging it into the Trash bin and empty the Trash will take hours as the Backup consists of million of files. I tried that before….

This time I tried to delete the Backups.backupdb folder from the disk with simple Unix commands (rm -rf ). But this doesn’t work firsthand. Even as superuser I wasn’t able to delete the files. Always got a “no permission” error message. I then checked the usual suspects mds (Spotlight Metadata Service) and hidden file attributes (xattribs). But that didn’t helped.

Finally I connected the disk to another MacBook with the old Tiger 10.4 MacOS X and tried to erase the files over there. This worked well. So Tiger doesn’t care about special settings of these files and did it’s job.

After that I tried to start a fresh and clean backup with Time Machine again. But Time Machine told me that it couldn’t do a backup of a FileVault secured home folder while the user is logged in. This is logical but sad. As this is a laptop computer and I’m the only user I’m almost always logged in when this machine is on. And to extra log off to have a backup done is not really practical. So I decided to kick FileVault for a convinient Time Machine backup. This took a lot of space on my hard disk during the unencryption and about 2 hours.

But now everything is fresh and clean and even PictureSync is working properly again.

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getting rid of old Time Maschine backups

16 05 2008
  • deutsch

If your Time Maschine backup volumes filles up you may get a warning message from Time Maschine. It tells you that Time Maschine has deleted the oldest backup set to gain enough space for the actual backup. You can acknowledge the message and even opt to not see it in the future. Time Maschine will then automatically remove oldest backups when needed.
TM 1
But the deletion of old backups will take some extra time on almost every backup. So maybe you wanna get rid of some old backups manually. This can easily be achieved by starting Time Maschine, navigating to the backup you want to delete and selecting the little gear icon in the Finder. There is an option “Delete Backup”. This will remove this point in time of your backup after asking for your authorization.
TM 3
TM 4
If you removed a couple of backup sets to be removed Time Maschine will need some time to wipe all the files. You will see a progress window like when flushing the trash can.
After the clean up you should have enough space for your next couple of backups. You should not delete any files or folders from the backup volume by your self. Time Maschine is doing an intelligent sparse backup. If you delete files or folders manually you may destroy the consistency of your backup and thus make it useless.

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