fixed : changing the name of a Time Machine backup .sparsebundle-file

Question :

I have transported my user account from my old Mac to my new Mac (using the Migration Assistant application) some weeks ago. Yesterday, I happend to click on the Data-drive from my TimeCapsule in the Finder, and I noticed that the TimeMachine backup-file (.sparsebundle-file) is still named after my old Mac… the name hasn’t changed to the new Mac’s name…

I find this utterly confusing. Is there something I can do to change the name of the .sparsebundle-file ?


Answer :

Yes there is, but it appears not all versions of the TimeMachine software are happy with changing the name of the .sparsebundle-file by the user.

So if you want to change the name of a TimeMachine backup-file (.sparsebundle-file) but wish to minimize the risk of corrupting your entire TimeMachine backup-file (one thus loosing all your data), follow this procedure :

1- make sure you are operating your Mac from a user account with administrator rights

2- go to Apple –> System Preferences –> Sharing

3- there, change the “Computer Name” to a name that identifies you new Mac (and the .sparsebundle-file)

4- then, go to the TimeMachine-icon in the Finder’s top menu bar and select “Back Up Now” from the pulldown menu

5- wait for the TimeMachine backup has finished (this might take longer than normal), and check to see if the .sparsebundle-file has been renamed (go to your TimeMachine backup drive using the Finder to do so)

The above will probably be sufficient if you are running MacOSX 10.7 “Lion”, OSX 10.8 “Mountain Lion” or OSX 10.9 “Mavericks”, and if it works, it’s the preferred way for changing the name of the .sparsebundle -file, as it minimises the risk on corrupting your backups. So, always try the above procedure first !

If you are running MacOSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard” or earlier (probably even Mac OSX 10.4 “Tiger” and even PowerPC Macs with G4 and G5 processors that can run the Time Machine software), and the above procedure didn’t change the name of the .sparsebundle-file, try this :

– duplicate your .sparsebundle-file to another harddisk, or select a new backup harddisk to make an entirely new TimeMachine backup to  (to make sure you have a backup in case you accidentally mess up ; if your sparse bundle-file is your one-and-only and irreplaceable backup, make sure you do this !)

– make sure the .sparsebundle-file is operating correctly by testing it using the “Enter TimeMachine”-option from the pulldown menu that appears when clicking on the TimeMachine-icon in the Finder’s menu bar

– make sure you are logged in as a user with Administrator rights

– click on the TimeMachine-icon in the Finder’s top menu bar and select “Back Up Now”

– after the backup has finished, go to your (primary) TimeMachine-drive in the Finder, click on the .sparsebundle-file and change it’s name

– then, go to the TimeMachine Preferences (either through the System Preferences or through the pulldown menu from the TimeMachine-icon in the top bar of the Finder)

– there, switch off TimeMachine and exit the System Preferences

– then, open the TimeMachine Preferences (within the System Preferences) again, and switch TimeMachine back on, then exit the System Peferences

– then, go to your (primary) TimeMachine-drive in the Finder again, and check if the name of the .sparsebundle-file has changed

– if the name has changed, check if the TimeMachine-backup works (try to access it by clicking “Enter Time Machine” from the pulldown menu that appears under the TimeMachine-icon in the Finder’s top menu bar), if that works, that’s it, you’re done !

– if somewhere along the procedure, something didn’t work as expected, restart your Mac and try again

– if it name change still won’t stick after several tries, make sure the “Computer Name” of your Mac is named exactly as you like in the Network Preferences (within the System Preferences) and then create an entirely new TimeMachine-backup : add a new drive for TimeMachine-backups (or remove the existing drive and then add the same one again) in the Time Machine Preferences (within the System Preferences), then click “Back Up Now” from the pulldown menu when you select the TimeMachine-icon in the Finder’s top menu bar… and wait…

That should be it.

Enjoy !


Note : the .sparsebundle-file extension might not be visible ; you can turn it on (or off) in the file’s “Get Info”-window (accessible when right-clicking on the file’s icon in the Finder)

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fixed : “No Volumes Found in backup”-error

Question :

I was trying to get Migration Assistant-app to put all my data on my new Mac, but when I select the sparsebundle backup-file from Time Machine in Migration Assistant, I get an error : “No Volumes Found in backup”.

How can that be ? I’ve made a new TimeMachine-backup just minutes before, and I didn’t get any errors there… what is wrong ?

What can I do to fix this ?

Answer :

Time Machine is great. But there seems to be a bug in the backup-software that causes this “No Volumes Found in backup”-error you’ve encountered. Normally, this error-message should only be displayed when a sparsebundle backup-file is corrupt (for some reason), but it turns out that it is now also displayed when a sparsebundle backup-file is incomplete…

This is probably due to a disconnection from the backup-disk during the TimeMachine-backup process (for instance because of shutting down the Mac, or switching from WiFi- to Ethernet-connection or vice-versa, during backup).

If the original files are still available on your Mac, the solution is rather simple : just go back to your Mac and use Time Machine to make a new backup. If you want extra insurance to prevent this error, either make a new Time Machine backup to a new/fresh harddrive (preferable an external USB- or FireWire-harddisk), or follow the backup-routine outlined in this post.

If the original files are no longer available on your Mac (e.g. your Mac is stolen, sold or you’ve just done a clean install on it, wiping off all of it’s data), you are in trouble…

…in that case, you could try using Disk Utility to repair the sparsebundle-file. If that works, you are in extreme luck… if that doesn’t help, you have very few options other than using the Terminal-app or a specialized expensive retrieving app like DiskWarrior (the cheaper knock-offs turn out not to work in most cases… too bad…).

I will be posting instructions on how to use the Terminal-app for this shortly (in a new post).

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tip : make sure your TimeMachine-update is useable

Question :

While doing a regular check on my Mac with Disk Utility, it just informed me that I have a potential hardware failure, should save a many data as I can and reinstall.

So I was planning on doing a TimeMachine-backup and disk-reformat, followed by a clean install of OSX and copy-back from TimeMachine.

But… I recently found reports on a bug in TimeMachine, that might prevent TimeMachine from recognizing the latest backup…

Is there a way to make sure that my latest TimeMachine-backup is useable ?


Answer :

This bug seems to occur with unfinished TimeMachine-backups, either due to disconnection, unplugging or switching from WiFi to Ethernet or vice-versa…

As with all things in life, nothing is 100% sure or secure…

But if you want near-100% assurance that your latest TimeMachine-backup will work after a ‘clean install’, do this :

– make sure your Mac is connected to your TimeMachine-backup-disk in only one way, so if it’s an external harddisk disconnect the Ethernet-network cable and set AirPort/Wifi to OFF, to have the connection ‘only via USB’ or ‘only via FireWire’ and if your TimeMachine-backup-disk is a NAS or TimeCapsule, disconnect from AirPort/WiFi (and preferably connect the Ethernet-cable from the NAS or TimeCapsule straight into your Mac, and if possible, stop all other network-connections over Ethernet, by disconnecting all cables, and shutting down AirPort/WiFi) to have the connection ‘only via Ethernet’

– do a new “Back Up Now” in TimeMachine, and make sure it finishes completely before you do anything else (preferably, shut down all other apps before backing up also)

– then startup the Migration Assistant-app (from the Utilities folder in the Applications folder), and type your Mac’s administrator-password when asked

– in the first window, select “From a Mac, Time Machine Backup or startup disk”, and click “Continue”

– in the next window, select the disk that your TimeMachine-backups are on (if you’re on a Time Capsule, you will need to type your TimeCapsule-password when asked), and click “Continue”

– in the next window, a list of all backups (a.k.a. sparsebundles) available on the disk will be displayed ; now you will have to wait a little for each sparsebundle to display what the date is of the backup-version that can be retrieved… if that date matches today’s date, you have a perfect backup available, and you can exit the Migration Assistant-app by repeatedly clicking the “Back”-button

…but if the date is different, or the “No Volumes Found in backup”-error is displayed, your backup is useless for easy recovery ; you will have to exit the Migration Assistant-app, and start over the entire backup-routine explained above, and then check again in the Migration Assistant-app …you have to keep repeating this entire routine until you get today’s date displayed below the backup’s name

If you do not do as described above, you are in serious, enormously time-consuming trouble…  (even though this doesn’t always mean that your personal data is lost… everything might be lost, but… it could also mean you will have to repair the sparsebundle-files and/or it could also mean that you will have to copy everything back ; folder-by-folder or even file-by-file… either in the Time Machine-app or in the Finder ; and all applications will have to be manually reinstalled again…)

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