Time Machine/Time Capsule with a Windows 7 share disk

Time-MachineOK, I decided to share some space on my Windows 7 rig to save my backups like in Time Capsule, later on I will use my “NAS” capable router as the new time machine.

Hands on. This is what we’ll need:

  • persuade Time Machine to see the SMB share as a Time Machine destination by activating the unsupported network drives feature:
    — simply open Terminal and type:
    defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1
  • set up the NAS box or Windows Shared with a quota per Mac so that Time Machine would know when to trim old backups (otherwise it just fills the NAS box with backups)
  • create an appropriate Time Machine disk image locally and copy it to the NAS box

1- Creating the disk image
You’ll need to find out two pieces of information about the computer you want to backup: its Computer Name and its Ethernet ID or Ethernet MAC address.
a-The Computer Name is the one that you set in the Sharing System Preferences pane:
-Open it up and you’ll see it at the top.
Let’s say you’ve called your computer “ALopez-MacBook-Pro”.
b-You can get the Ethernet ID from the Network System Preference pane.
-Open System Preferences > Network > Advance > Ethernet > ID) in my case: 00:18:b3:xx:xx:xx. (Note that you want the wired Ethernet ID even if you’ll be using Airport to back up wirelessly.)

The name of the Time Machine disk image that you want to create will then be “ALopez-MacBook-Pro_0018b31184dd.sparsebundle”, i.e. the Computer Name, followed by an underscore, followed by the Ethernet ID without the colons, followed by .sparsebundle.
The maximum size for the backup will be setup here as well:

Now go to Terminal and type the following commands:
DISK_IMAGE_NAME=”disk image name”
DISK_SIZE=max backup size in megabytes
hdiutil create -library SPUD -megabytes $DISK_SIZE -fs HFS+J -type SPARSEBUNDLE -volname “$DISK_IMAGE_NAME” “$DISK_IMAGE_NAME”

In our example, the commands might be as follows:
hdiutil create -library SPUD -megabytes $DISK_SIZE -fs HFS+J -type SPARSEBUNDLE -volname “$DISK_IMAGE_NAME” “$DISK_IMAGE_NAME”

After you’ve run this command, you should end up with a disk image in your home directory called something like “ALopez-MacBook-Pro_0018b31184dd.sparsebundle”. It looks like a single file, but it’s actually a directory.

Don’t forget to copy this disk image to the appropriate share on your NAS box or Windows Shared folder. Just dragging and dropping from the Finder should work fine.

2- Making Windows share HD or NAS box:
-On the windows machine, make sure you share a folder with a specific name to identify the Time Capsule (in my case: Time Capsule)
-If using Windows 7, XP Pro, or Server, make sure you create a user for your Time Capsule to access (read and write privileges) and allow the user to access your newly created share
-Another option is to create a dummy user account* with a disk quota, so your time machine wont use all your Windows/NAS space. If you need more details on this, just comment on the post.
*diferrence between a user and user accounts is that a user account is the one that you see when you turn on your windows machine and ask for a password and each one will have a custom look, apps, etc, like different family members using the same computer with different logins)

3- Now make it work
To get Time Machine started, you follow these simple steps:
-Connect to the NAS box share or Windows Share from the Finder using the machine-specific user
-Open Time Machine Preferences and point to shared/NAS drive as your backup destination **
make sure the “Show Time Machine status in the menu bar” option is checked
-Click on the Options button in Time Machine Preferences and ensure that the “Back up while on battery power” checkbox is not checked
-Click Done

4- Let the backup finish (I recommend leaving the machine overnight – mine took over day and half to finish, subsequent backups should take only minutes depending on the amount of data changed, etc)

** If your Windows shared folder is not showing:
-Open “Finder” and if the machine / shared is not showing on your list of devices on Finder, then on your menu bar: Go > Connect to Server > type: “smb://server” where “server” is either the IP or the name of the machine on the network that you will be backing up.

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