Shane Duffy

Time machine backup onto network share.

Posted on: February 14, 2008

The majority of us don’t backup on a regular basis. It usually isn’t until we lose a bunch of critical data that the light bulb turns on and we start backing up for maybe a week or two and then we stop. Apple’s new Leopard operating system contains Time Machine to fix that problem. Time Machine runs in the background, backing up your entire hard drive without you having to remember to manually run a backup.

This was one of the niceties which excited me about upgrading to Leopard; however I was somewhat disappointed to learn after upgrading, that Time Machine would only backup to another physically attached hard drive. In my situation I primarily like to place my backups in a remote location such as a networked server. I work of a laptop, so my physical working location is always changing and I’m not going to carry an external drive with me all the time. Luckily, after a few hours of research I found a nice tweak to let me use our office network servers as my backup location.

Here is how you do it:

Obviously you need to be running Leopard and you’ll need a network share which is larger or equal to your hard drive in your Mac. In my case these shares are in SMB and AFP.

1. Go into Applications / Utilities and open up terminal
2. Copy and paste this command into terminal (all on one line)

defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

3. Hit enter / return
4. Mount your network share, in my case my share is off our server called INAS1 and my share is called User-Backups
5. Go to System Preferences and open Time Machine
6. Click on Change Disk
7. Select the share you wish to backup to, I’ve selected User-Backups
6. That’s it, you’re done

Wait up to 15 minutes and you should be set. To verify it is working open up your network share in Finder and you should see a file which is named [your computer name] [your MAC address].sparsebundle

Be sure you post any comments or questions about this method.


15 Responses to "Time machine backup onto network share."

Brilliant..thank you

I am trying to back up to a share on my NAS and using the above article, I am able to see the share in Time Machine. Everything looks good when Time Machine starts, the correct available size is displayed and Time Machine displays “Preparing” and I can see the backup volume being created on the backup share, but then it fails with the error “The backup image could not be created”. I am running OS X 10.5.5 on a late 2008 MacBook Pro. Thanks in advance to any help you can provide.


Sorry…please disregard my earlier post. I looked at some of the related links and found my answer.


andy what are the links I am having the same problem?


I got the same error message. Would you please specify which of the related links helped you to fix it? Thanks


Andy, I’m getting the same error. Can you post the resolution to the “backup image could not be created” message. Thanks …

Thanks for your help. Great tweak.

How come Apple won’t enable this feature by default?

I guess it is because they want to sell there Time Capsule or Airport Extreme products and make a nice profit on these. The other thing is there can be issues which corruption when using a windows network share for timemachine so be careful if your using this and don’t have much space on your backup volume.


This is a great post. Thank you very much. I’m having the exact same problem Andy and Jeremy were having. Can you please tell me what I need to do to be able to show the backup folder I’ve created on my SMB hard drive so I can backup?

Thank you so much.



try this one

You need to be creating the file in the share volume yourself and not letting the computer create itself on first connect.

Hope this helps.

[…] Comment! This is a quick follow up post to my earlier one about creating timemachine backups on a network share. […]

Such a simple solution. Well done!

Man, that’s amazing. I have been wanting to do this for ages – I just didn’t think there was a way.

Fantastic, thanks for the info!

I’ve been trying to follow your directions – but I don’t know what you mean by “mount your network share” – please explain! I’m not very tech savvy!

Great post! I have been looking for a solution for a long time and this is an easy way to do it! Thanks so much.

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