3 most common Time Machine problems and how to fix them

Apple Mac is one of the most wanted computers on the market. Apple Mac lineup is getting better and smarter every year thanks to Apple’s endless attempt to improve it. The reason behind Mac’s huge success lies in its optimized macOS operating system. macOS is making things you do most even better and faster. One such thing lies in the ability to back up your personal data.

macOS has a built-in Time Machine, a handy tool that allows you to quickly back up almost everything on your Mac. Time Machine has been out there for years and serves as a perfect way to protect your data in case if something wrong comes up. Time Machine tends to get better every time when Apple releases a new software update. However, there are times when Time Machine becomes a cause of annoyance as it fails to work. In reality, a lot of Mac owners are reporting that Time Machine displays some error messages while they are trying to back up their Mac. If you are one of those users who has been affected by Time Machine issues, then check out our guide below.

In this article, we have compiled a list of the most common Time Machine problems and show you how to fix them. Before we dive in, make sure you now have the latest software update on your Mac. Apple has begun rolling out macOS Mojave to all compatible Macs out there, so open the System Preferences > Updates > Update Now. For some background, macOS Mojave is not a huge significant upgrade over its predecessors, but it comes with a lot of new things that’s been demanded for many years like Dark Mode, Dynamic Desktop, or Stacks.

  1. Time Machine fails to back up

Time Machine serves as a convenient tool for backing up your data, but a number of Mac owners are complaining that Time Machine won’t back up. There could be any reason for why Time Machine won’t work on your Mac, ranging from outdated software update to connectivity issues. In reality, there is no permanent fix for this, but we recommend you reset SMC or PRAM. For some background, resetting SMC helps fix a number of major issues like frozen keyboard, incorrect battery indicator, or unresponsive power button. Note that the method used to reset SMC varies depending on your Mac’s settings.

Time Machine

If you now own a Mac with a removable battery, then shut down your computer, then unplug the MagSafe power adapter from your Mac, and remove your battery. Once you are done, keep the power button pressed for 5 seconds and release,  then insert your battery and reconnect the MagSafe Adapter. Now just simply power on your computer.

If you now own a Mac with a built-in battery, then turn off your Mac, then keep shift-option-control and power button pressed and release. Now just turn on your computer to see if the problem is fixed. If nothing changes, try resetting PRAM on your Mac. To do this, shut down your Mac, then press the Power button and press command-option-p-r on your keyboard. After that, keep those buttons pressed until your Mac restarts and you hear the startup sound a second time. Release them and your Mac should reboot normally.

  1. Drive is read-only

There are times when Time Machine displays an error message that says “Backup Volume is Read Only“. If this is the case, Time Machine won’t back up your data as the drive is configured as a read-only. The best shot is to perform drive repairs to get things working properly on your Mac.

To do this, open Terminal from the Spotlight Search on your Mac, then enter the following command: diskutil list and locate the partition of the disk used for Time Machine backup. After that, enter diskutil verifyVolume [volume name] to verify the volume and run disktuil repairVolume [volume name] if you locate any errors during the process.

  1. Time Machine stuck on “Preparing Backup”

A lot of Mac owners are reporting a bug that causes Time Machine to get stuck on “Preparing Backup”. This is one of the most common Time Machine problems as it pops up every year when Apple releases a new macOS software update. The issue may be with some third-party apps interfering with Time Machine backup.

Before taking action, you need to check if the preparation process is stuck. To do this, open System Preferences, then select Time Machine at the bottom and check out the progress bar. If nothing changes, then you can follow our steps below to fix it.

Step one: From the Time Machine preference window, uncheck the box next to Back Up Automatically to turn off Time Machine

Time Machine

Step two: Next up, open the Spotlight preference pane on your Mac and then select the Privacy tab

Time Machine

Step three: Now just add your Time Machine volume to the list by clicking on the Add button. Doing so prevents Spotlight from indexing your backup

Step four: Remove the. InProgress File from the “Backups.backupdb” folder and turn on Time Machine.

These are the three most common problems users are facing with Time Machine. Hopefully, our solutions work best for you. If you have got any issues during the process, let us know in the comment below.

Was this article helpful?
Categories Mac
About John Smith

2 thoughts on “3 most common Time Machine problems and how to fix them”

  1. Time Machine stuck on “Preparing Backup”

    Step four: Remove the. InProgress File from the “Backups.backupdb” folder and turn on Time Machine.

    I cannot locate this file.

    • Hi Larry, what you’re looking for is a “.InProgress” file which will be somewhere in your Backups.backupdb folder (located in the time machine drive).

      The file will look something like this “2019-07-17-897456.InProgress”

      If there isn’t a file in there, then perhaps it’s already been deleted. Let me know if this helps! If not, I’ll be able to help further.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.