Vita Rara: A Life Uncommon

Solution for Very Slow Time Machine Backup

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Tonight I added an additional external disk to my Time Machine managed backups. This leaves me with the following configuration:

  • Drobo with 2 * 500GB HD acting as the Time Machine Disk
  • 250 GB Internal being backed up by Time Machine
  • 2 * 250 GB FW External Drives being backed up by Time Machine

After adding the second external drive to the Time Machine Backup I kicked off a backup manually. I proceeded to ignore it and do some coding. After a few hours it hadn't completed backing 40G of data. I did a rough calculation and it was averaging aproximately 300-400 kBs. Needless to say that's is quite disappointing. At first I suspected the Drobo. (I'll admit I'm not a USB fan.) After some searching I realized it probably wasn't the Drobo.

I found the following thread on Apples support forum. The jist of which is to stop Time Machine and delete the "in progress" folder using the Finder. (Being a *nix guy I tried it from the prompt but got errors, su'ed to root tried it and got errors, punted and tried it with the finder and it worked. Took a while for me, so be patient.) After removing the "in progress" backup restart Time Machine and start a backup.

After following this procedure my backup is clipping along in the 12-14MB/sec range. I think the arrangement of my machine might be an advantage. All of my data drives are on the FireWire bus, and the Drobo is on the USB. So, there is little contention when transferring data to the backup.

Random Fix !

After trying everything my 287GB backup was looking like it was going to take a couple of month but I just left it . . . today one of my apps crashed my comp so I had to force a restart. The backup had managed less than 1GB all day so I was miffed but thought one more day would not make much difference. I told the mac to back up now and thought it may continue from where it left off but all of sudden it was speeding along and in less than 2 hours it has reached 30GB so by the morning it should be all done ! wow . . If you have a really slow backup - shutting down the mac by holding in the power button may help !! (although I accept no responsibility for damaged HDs!!) very glad to say it worked for me.


Apple phone support confirms this solution

Hi all.

I, too, was lamenting that paint dried faster than Time Machine could back up (10-17GB every 8-12 hours, or 250-500 kBps). After seeing this solution, I called Apple support, and they confirmed that I should indeed:
1) Stop Time Machine.
2) Delete all inprogress folders (I also deleted two--one in the TM disk's highest directory, and one buried a few layers within Backups.backupdb)
3) Empty trash if necessary
4) Start Time Machine back up.

The Apple phone support fellow said this is the appropriate, safe action to take. (Lame that you have to kludge to make this software work.)

Now my TM is trotting at something like 7GB in 10 minutes, or 12MBps.

Good luck!

My time machine backups were

My time machine backups were very slow because my external hard drive was partitioned as FAT32. I disabled time machine, re-formatted my Maxtor external drive as Mac OS Jounaled, re-enabled time machine and now my backups are flying.

Good ideas but my problem

Good ideas but my problem differs

1. TM takes two hours to prepare a backup.
2. If I have to interrupt it it takes half an hour to stop the backup.

I wonder why Apple cannot write something simple like this properly

Your Problem

I've seen this behavior before and have no idea how to remedy it.

On one machine of mine I've given up on TM and gone to using rsync.



I tried this and it worked, but only for a few seconds, then it slowed down again.
I opened Finder, deleted everything out of it, went into TM preferences chose "none" as a backup device, applied it, then went in and chose my hard drive again (to kind of reset it) and when I applied it it backed up lightning fast.

I don't know why it happened like that....


My time machine was running painfully slow i didn't delete in finder what was in time machine, i just selected none as a backup disk then selected it again now all is good! thanks

clarifying below

When I said I opened finder and deleted everything I mean I opened up Time Machine in Finder and deleted everything out of there.....

what folder?

The inprogess file? Or is there a folder some where? I'm having HUGE problems with time machine and I'm trying to figure this out...

In Progress Folder

You want to turn off time machine and delete the in progress folder. That fixed my issue.

But where is the folder?

Exactly where is the 'in progress' folder? Time Machine doesn't seem to create any folders with that name on my computer. Is it hidden somewhere?

In Progress Folder

I don't recall exactly but it's in the top of your TimeMachine backup on the TimeMachine disk.

Another thing...

I figured out I was doing something that was slowing it. I had the Finder window open to the Backups.backupdb folder, but I also had turned on Calculate All Sizes checked in Show View Options. Unclicking that made the pace of the backup speed up immensely.

Time Machine SLOW

Also another good thing is to turn off or disable any Anti Virus programs...this did the trick on a few Macs I work on for others..

Good Luck...

Turning off Norton did it.

After several hours of TM in the background and only 7GB backed up, I found this thread and deleted the inprogress file (not folder as some have said). It sped up upon restart momentarily, but really only had the effect of undoing those hours of backup. Just to clarify, THE INPROGRESS FILE IS YOUR BACKUP. Disabling anti-virus got it up to speed immediately. I turned off Norton less than 5 minutes ago, and it's already up to 3 GB. Wish I'd read the above post before the delete.

Time Machine slow

Removing SymAutoProtect from /system/library/startupitems fixed the problem for me.

Sophos was the brakes!

I've also just discovered that disabling the AV is the key to speeding up a backup ... those who've done it, do you have to do it all the time, or once it's created a backup can the incremental one cope with AV being on?

lol AV

Ha who would use AV on OS X. Honestly, some people believe all the hype. Simple common sense when installing things, and not using any MS app will keep you safe.

lol AV???

dude there are still trojans for mac....


Yes trojans exist, but they can easily get past any spam or virus filter on any type of OS if the computer user authorizes them. And besides, spam filers and virus filters dont make much of a difference ( if any ) on a unix system like a mac.
And beside all that digression, the slow timemachine backups are happening on mac's without any spam or virus filters and it would be nice to have a general all purpose fix for this problem.

TIme Machine very slow

If I copy a 2 gig file in the finder to the target disk it takes seconds or less, in Time Machine it takes hours. I has taken me 14 to hours and I am about at 50 gigs on my way to 300. The app is just plain slow. No other apps cause me this problem including recording up 32 tracks in real time into Logic, so Time Machine must b the culprit. Dog slow. Unfortunate.