In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

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In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Doug Lerner
Up through Snow Leopard, Time Machine did its incremental backup every hour quickly and stopped.

Since upgrading to Lion, Time Machine seems be be running all the time - and very very very slowly.

Preparing for backup takes a long time. It take hours to eke through the backup itself, even if there weren't many changes, and finishing backup takes a long time.

I would say each backup, no matter how small, takes more than three hours.

Anybody else having issues with Time Machine backup in Lion and know of solutions? At the Apple Forums there seems to be lots of discussion threads about this, but the suggested solutions seem to be a jumble, with some people saying it worked and many saying it didn't.

I did do a disk repair on the Time Machine volume just in case. And there is nothing else on that drive except for Time Machine backups. The drive is directly connected to my iMac. While not vital, I'd rather not reformat the drive and lost all my old backups, which go back over a year. If I knew for sure that was the solution I'd do it. But in the Apple Forums there are lots of people who seem to have tried that and reported back that it didn't help.

Thanks,

doug

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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

George Wade
On 29/09/2011 17:49, Doug Lerner wrote:

> Up through Snow Leopard, Time Machine did its incremental backup every hour quickly and stopped.
>
> Since upgrading to Lion, Time Machine seems be be running all the time - and very very very slowly.
>
> Preparing for backup takes a long time. It take hours...
> Anybody else having issues with Time Machine backup in Lion and know of solutions?
> ..... it didn't help.
>
> Thanks,
>
> doug

I would not assume that Time Machine 'appearing to be running slowly is
a problem.'  For now I'd make one bootable backup relatively quickly,
with CCC or something, on its own drive.  Then let Time Machine manage
its own life its own way (while keeping one ear to the ground,
occasionally...)  A new OS takes time to mature: like Lion Cubs do.

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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

@lbutlr
In reply to this post by Doug Lerner
On Sep 29, 2011, at 18:49, Doug Lerner <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I would say each backup, no matter how small, takes more than three hours.

When this happened to me, under Snow Leopard, it was the first warning that the Time Machine disk was about to ocean out on me.


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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Alfred von Campe
In reply to this post by Doug Lerner
On Sep 29, 2011, at 20:49, Doug Lerner wrote:

> Up through Snow Leopard, Time Machine did its incremental backup every hour quickly and stopped.
>
> Since upgrading to Lion, Time Machine seems be be running all the time - and very very very slowly.

I'm having a similar issue, except that I am still on Snow Leopard.  It will  be stuck at "Preparing 178 items" or "Backing up 18.3B out of 672MB" for many, many minutes for instance, even though my Time Capsule is a few inches from my MacBook Pro, so I know there is not much interference.  I haven't been able to figure out what's causing this, so any insights would be much appreciated.

Alfred


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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Doug Lerner
In reply to this post by George Wade

On Sep 30, 2011, at 10:04 AM, George Wade wrote:

> I would not assume that Time Machine 'appearing to be running slowly is
> a problem.'  For now I'd make one bootable backup relatively quickly,
> with CCC or something, on its own drive.  Then let Time Machine manage
> its own life its own way (while keeping one ear to the ground,
> occasionally...)  A new OS takes time to mature: like Lion Cubs do.

I have CCC do a bootable backup every morning at 3:30 am on a separate drive. CCC is very convenient - especially if I need to move between my iMac and MBP.

But Time Machine has been acting this way since I upgraded to Lion back in July.

doug

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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

George Wade
On 29/09/2011 21:07, Doug Lerner wrote:

> On Sep 30, 2011, at 10:04 AM, George Wade wrote:
>
> I would not assume that Time Machine 'appearing to be running slowly is
> a problem.'  For now I'd make one bootable backup relatively quickly,
> with CCC or something, on its own drive.  Then let Time Machine manage
> its own life its own way (while keeping one ear to the ground,
> occasionally...)  A new OS takes time to mature: like Lion Cubs do.
> I have CCC do a bootable backup every morning at 3:30 am on a separate drive. CCC is very convenient - especially if I need to move between my iMac and MBP.
>
> But Time Machine has been acting this way since I upgraded to Lion back in July.
>
> doug
These big cats patrol their entire territory regularly;  perhaps that is
what it is doing while appearing to be working  so slowly?  Scaring away
hyena and vultures that would otherwise tear chunks of data away!

George
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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Doug Lerner
The whole thing seems rather screwy. Right now it says it's backing up 3.5 MB of 132.9 MB - and taking forever to do it.

I know that since the last backup I haven't changed anywhere near 132.9 MB of data.

Something definitely seems to be wrong with Time Machine in Lion.

doug

On Sep 30, 2011, at 6:02 PM, George Wade wrote:

> These big cats patrol their entire territory regularly;  perhaps that is
> what it is doing while appearing to be working  so slowly?  Scaring away
> hyena and vultures that would otherwise tear chunks of data away!
>
> George

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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Rodney

On Sep 30, 2011, at 1:30 PM, Doug Lerner wrote:

> I know that since the last backup I haven't changed anywhere near 132.9 MB of data.

Time Machine doesn’t just back up the files you change.  Any of your system files, and the folders containing them, could be backed up as well.  My last backup showed:

Starting standard backup
Backing up to: /Volumes/Backups/Backups.backupdb
416.3 MB required (including padding), 672.17 GB available

I’m not feeling well, and have been asleep the last 3 hours.  About the only things that are changing on my system are new mail messages arriving, and iTunes metadata since I have iTunes playing in the background.  This is very typical of my Time Machine backups.

At the risk of re-kindling The Great Time Machine Debate of a few months back, a Time Machine backup only stores one copy of a file.  If the file (including a directory file) doesn’t change between one backup and the next, Time Machine just adds another hard link to the already file.

However, if a file has changed, then Time Machine copies the changed file to the backup and adds a hard link to it.  However, this will require creating a new folder to contain the hard link to the changed file.  This will, as best I can tell, then require creating a new parent folder and so on up the tree.

All this can result in the usage of several hundred MB per backup even if system activity is minimal.  If I got some of the finer details wrong, see “not feeling well” above...

> Something definitely seems to be wrong with Time Machine in Lion.

That may be true, but that conclusion isn’t supported by the evidence in this particular post.

Rodney
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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Rodney
In reply to this post by George Wade

On Sep 30, 2011, at 3:04 AM, George Wade wrote:

> I would not assume that Time Machine 'appearing to be running slowly is
> a problem.'  For now I'd make one bootable backup relatively quickly,
> with CCC or something, on its own drive.  Then let Time Machine manage
> its own life its own way (while keeping one ear to the ground,
> occasionally...)  A new OS takes time to mature: like Lion Cubs do.

I’d assume there is a problem somewhere, perhaps with the Time Machine disk.  There is no reason that Time Machine should take a lot of time to back up unless it is backing up a lot of data.  All it needs to do to decide what to back up is to look at .fsevents for each volume, and it will know instantly every folder on the drive which contains a changed file.  It can then just look in those folders to find the actual files that changed.  It doesn’t have to search an entire hard drive to find changes.

If it were me, I’d use CCC, Super Duper, or Disk Utility in standalone mode to copy the Time Machine disk, then I’d reformat it.

Rodney
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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Doug Lerner
In reply to this post by Rodney

On Sep 30, 2011, at 9:39 PM, Rodney wrote:

>> Something definitely seems to be wrong with Time Machine in Lion.
>
> That may be true, but that conclusion isn’t supported by the evidence in this particular post.

Well, the evidence for me is that Time Machine has only started the behavior since upgrading to Lion. Previously, there were short, incremental, very quick updates every hour. That has changed radically for me since upgrading to Lion.

doug

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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Doug Lerner
In reply to this post by Rodney

On Sep 30, 2011, at 9:49 PM, Rodney wrote:

> I’d assume there is a problem somewhere, perhaps with the Time Machine disk.  There is no reason that Time Machine should take a lot of time to back up unless it is backing up a lot of data.  All it needs to do to decide what to back up is to look at .fsevents for each volume, and it will know instantly every folder on the drive which contains a changed file.  It can then just look in those folders to find the actual files that changed.  It doesn’t have to search an entire hard drive to find changes.
>
> If it were me, I’d use CCC, Super Duper, or Disk Utility in standalone mode to copy the Time Machine disk, then I’d reformat it.

I don' really have a place to copy it to. I do have one other disk that is dedicated to a nightly CCC bootable cloned backup, but I don't want to lose that while messing with the Time Machine drive.

Disk Utility reports no errors on the drive, for whatever that is worth.

Thanks,

doug

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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Frederic W. Brehm
In reply to this post by Alfred von Campe
>> Up through Snow Leopard, Time Machine did its incremental backup every hour quickly and stopped.
>>
>> Since upgrading to Lion, Time Machine seems be be running all the time - and very very very slowly.

The same thing happened to me. I cured it with a sledge hammer. Disable Time Machine, reformat the backup disk, enable Time Machine on the disk. It chugs along for a while backing everything up but then resumes its hourly schedule.

Fred

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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Doug Lerner

On Oct 1, 2011, at 9:10 AM, Frederic W. Brehm wrote:

>>> Up through Snow Leopard, Time Machine did its incremental backup every hour quickly and stopped.
>>>
>>> Since upgrading to Lion, Time Machine seems be be running all the time - and very very very slowly.
>
> The same thing happened to me. I cured it with a sledge hammer. Disable Time Machine, reformat the backup disk, enable Time Machine on the disk. It chugs along for a while backing everything up but then resumes its hourly schedule.

I've heard some people say that works and other people say it ends up not making a difference. How long have you been running well since doing that?

Thanks,

doug

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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Zeedar Marc

On Sep 30, 2011, at 5:20 PM, Doug Lerner wrote:

>> The same thing happened to me. I cured it with a sledge hammer. Disable Time Machine, reformat the backup disk, enable Time Machine on the disk. It chugs along for a while backing everything up but then resumes its hourly schedule.
>
> I've heard some people say that works and other people say it ends up not making a difference.

I can't imagine why that wouldn't work. Since it's stalling/slow that makes me think there's a problem with the files on the TM disk and it's having trouble figuring out what files are changed and need to be backed up. I've had a few problems with TM disks over the years and starting fresh has always cured any ills. In my case, I couldn't care less about having my "archives" available to me (I just want regular backups), so starting over is not a big deal. YMMV.


Marc Zeedar
Publisher, Real Studio Developer magazine
www.rsdeveloper.com




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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Tom Robinson
In reply to this post by Rodney
Be sure to zero out data when erasing it (single pass).  Takes hours or days but works every byte of the drive.  I had really slow Time Machine backups on one drive, and another TM drive which would spontaneously dismount.  Both were revealed to be disk errors by a complete format.

I now format drives right after purchase.

Cheers


On 1/10/2011, at 1:49, Rodney <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> If it were me, I’d use CCC, Super Duper, or Disk Utility in standalone mode to copy the Time Machine disk, then I’d reformat it.
>

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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Rodney
In reply to this post by Zeedar Marc

On Oct 1, 2011, at 2:45 AM, Zeedar Marc wrote:

>
> On Sep 30, 2011, at 5:20 PM, Doug Lerner wrote:
>
>>> The same thing happened to me. I cured it with a sledge hammer. Disable Time Machine, reformat the backup disk, enable Time Machine on the disk. It chugs along for a while backing everything up but then resumes its hourly schedule.
>>
>> I've heard some people say that works and other people say it ends up not making a difference.
>
> I can't imagine why that wouldn't work. Since it's stalling/slow that makes me think there's a problem with the files on the TM disk and it's having trouble figuring out what files are changed and need to be backed up. I've had a few problems with TM disks over the years and starting fresh has always cured any ills. In my case, I couldn't care less about having my "archives" available to me (I just want regular backups), so starting over is not a big deal. YMMV.

If it were me, before I nuked the Time Machine disk, I’d try a bit of first aid.  First, turn off Time Machine from System Preferences.  Then, look in the “Backups.backupdb/[your computer name here]” folder.  You should see a bunch of folders whose names consist of a date followed by a number ("2011-10-01-07357", and a shortcut called “latest”.  If Time Machine is active (in Lion) you’ll also see a file with an “.inProgress” extension, but you did stop Time Machine, didn’t you?

If you do see the “.inProgress file, or files or folders with any other names than “latest” or a date followed by a number, then remove them.  If Time Machine got its shorts in a knot during a backup, then cleaning up might help it to get going again.  If you found anything to remove, restart Time Machine and try again.

If this fails I'd clone the Time Machine drive and tell Time Machine to back up to the clone.  Yes, Doug, I understand why you’d hate to wipe out your CCC backup, even for a while, but Time Machine is useless to you until you resolve this.  If Time Machine backs up quickly to the clone, then wipe and reformat the original Time Machine backup disk and put everything back.  Unless the original Time Machine disk has serious problems, you should now be back in business.

The advantage of the above over just reformatting your Time Machine disk to start with is that you might be able to save your old TM backups.  This is personally a big deal for me, as I have 2 years’ worth of TM backups, and I’ve had occasion to recover stuff that old.  I wouldn’t want to lose that option if it could be avoided.

Rodney
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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Zeedar Marc
On Oct 1, 2011, at 5:59 AM, Rodney <[hidden email]> wrote:

> The advantage of the above over just reformatting your Time Machine disk to start with is that you might be able to save your old TM backups.  This is personally a big deal for me, as I have 2 years’ worth of TM backups, and I’ve had occasion to recover stuff that old.  I wouldn’t want to lose that option if it could be avoided.

I am curious about this. Just what are people using TM archives for? I don't see much use for them personally. The only thing they are good for are for earlier versions of a document and the times I need that are very rare.

Occasionally I've used that feature while in the middle of a project, going back to an earlier iteration after I realized I didn't like my recent changes, but in those situations TM's hourly backup often wasn't frequent enough. I can't ever imagine needing to go back in time two years to look at a half-composed article I wrote!

Are people actually deleting documents permanently off their main computer and then expecting to have a TM backup to recover that? That seems crazy to me. I never delete anything important. I did delete something _accidentally_ once (I overwrote a file by mistake) and TM saved by bacon by having a backup so I definitely _like_ the archive feature -- but it's not the end of the world to me to have to start TM over.

Am I missing something about the usefulness of TM archiving?

-- Marc
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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Kim Gammelgaard
Den 01/10/2011 kl. 17.32 skrev Publisher:

> I am curious about this. Just what are people using TM archives for? I don't see much use for them personally. The only thing they are good for are for earlier versions of a document and the times I need that are very rare.

I agree mostly. I have helped friends restore full iPhoto Libraries that had been deleted (Oh, but I already had iPhoto in the Application Folder, one should be enough!(not kidding!) ), and I have had 2 hard drives go dead on me, and for those times Time Machine has been really astonishingly great.

I have also been asked once by someone urgently needing space on the main hard drive (for an iMovie Project, I think it was) how to delete a few big things there, and then later retrieving them back from Time machine again.

I agree on the versioning though, but that may also be because we have become used not to be able to go back like that.

Best regards,

Kim
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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Rodney
In reply to this post by Zeedar Marc

On Oct 1, 2011, at 5:32 PM, Publisher wrote:

> I am curious about this. Just what are people using TM archives for?

This is where the wheels started to come off.  TM is NOT an archive.  It is a backup solution.  There is a difference...

> I don't see much use for them personally. The only thing they are good for are for earlier versions of a document and the times I need that are very rare.

For you personally, that may be true.  The question is whether you’re the exception or the rule.  When I see things like, “The only thing they are good for...” makes me want to start quoting Shakespeare, “The fault, dear Brutus, ..."

I can use Time Machine to recover everything from an individual email message to the entire computer, and in the past I have used it for both, and much in between.

> Occasionally I've used that feature while in the middle of a project, going back to an earlier iteration after I realized I didn't like my recent changes, but in those situations TM's hourly backup often wasn't frequent enough.

TM’s hourly backups often enough for me either.  In those situations, I start a manual backup while I continue with my work.  I do a bit of web site work in my twilight years, and my normal mode of operation is to trigger a TM backup after every major change (I save a web page that I THINK is correct, etc).  This has come in handy on more than one occasion, because it can be hell finding mismatched HTML tags in a complicated page, and I did mention “twilight years”, didn’t I? This problem will go away when Dreamweaver supports versioning, I reckon.

> I can't ever imagine needing to go back in time two years to look at a half-composed article I wrote!

I can’t imagine needing a half-composed article I wrote, either.  There have, however, been occasions when my imagination wasn’t adequate...

> Are people actually deleting documents permanently off their main computer and then expecting to have a TM backup to recover that? That seems crazy to me.

It is crazy to me as well.  I have, however, deleted stuff temporarily until I could free up some space.  When the Time Machine disk fills up, Time Machine will start freeing up space by deleting the oldest backups, regardless of what’s in them.  Again, Time Machine is NOT an archive, and Time Machine is NOT a CMS.  Anyone who needs either should look elsewhere.

> I never delete anything important. I did delete something _accidentally_ once (I overwrote a file by mistake) and TM saved by bacon by having a backup so I definitely _like_ the archive feature -- but it's not the end of the world to me to have to start TM over.

I never delete anything important, either.  Once my hard drive did so, and there are little green in pink tennis shoes who come in and do it in the middle of the night (I’ve caught them at it a couple of times), but _I_ never delete anything important.  I am, however, glad that TM is around when those other guys do that...

> Am I missing something about the usefulness of TM archiving?

Yes...

Again, TM is B-A-C-K-U-P and not archiving.
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Re: In Lion, Time Machine seems to be perpetually running - and running slowly

Zeedar Marc

On Oct 1, 2011, at 10:15 AM, Rodney wrote:

>> Am I missing something about the usefulness of TM archiving?
>
> Yes...
>
> Again, TM is B-A-C-K-U-P and not archiving.

You say that several times but never explain what you mean. I think of it that way myself (TM is backup), but since it does save multiple versions of files, I think of it as an archive.

What other word would describe it? Versioning? I think it's just semantics; I'm not trying to say TM is a particular thing, just attempting to describe one aspect of its features that I don't see as being that critical. (I'm not saying it's not _nice_ to have access to old files, just that it shouldn't be critical.)

But I do agree with what you said earlier about attempting to fix the TM disk before reformatting. At the same time, I once had a problem with one of my TM disks and I went a couple of weeks not fixing it because I was short of time (and lazy) and didn't want to lose my archive (or whatever you want to call it). When I realized I'd gone two weeks without a backup, I decided it was more important to have a working backup than an archive, so I reformatted and started over. So my point is simply that current backup is more important than old versions of files and if TM isn't working, reformatting might be the quickest way to get it working again.


Marc Zeedar
Publisher, Real Studio Developer magazine
www.rsdeveloper.com




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