Time Machine stopped working.

So Time Machine suddenly decided to stop serving me by starting a back up but never ending it. The message I got for return was something like “..an error occurred while copying files to the backup volume..”. At the beginning I thought that (TM) disk died so I checked it with TechTool Pro which found no errors. Then I decided to drop all the back ups and just re-partition the disk. Again failure.. Tried another disk with no results. I though that something was wrong with the app it self so the first thing I tried was, of course, to clear the .plists. Time Machine has one on the System level under the path “HD/Library/Preferences”. I killed this one and even after a restart, OS X re-created it but nothing. Then I found some receipts on the web referring to 4 -system- files. Actually they are 4 .plists under the path “HD/System/Library/LaunchDaemons”. Their names are: com.apple.backupd-attach.plist, com.apple.backupd-auto.plist, com.apple.backupd-wake.plist and com.apple.backupd.plist. I thought I could trash them and let X re-create them but guess what.. OS X wont recreate them and will let Time Machine brain-dead. Good thing is that I am a backup freak so thanks to Carbon Copy Cloner and another mobile disk I was able to restore those files even if they were a bit old. After bringing them back and rebooting the system Time Machine came to life again but as usual.. It couldn’t complete a full back up.

In the process of trying to find a solution I discovered a few nice little tools and tips but most of them were useless because I lost all the past back ups thanks to the re-partition I did on the disk. But I would like to mention a few here that Im ready to test. 1st app is “BackupLoupe” which costs $5 but it uses no serial numbers or other protection features. I got a bit socked by the message of the developer on the initial run of the app. Its something like this: “Please consider buying BackupLoupe at our shop. A single license costs 5.00 USD. At soma-zone we don’t believe in copy protection. We do believe in honest customers. If you click ‘This copy is already licensed’, we don’t check back. We trust you.”. WOW.. That is a reason to buy it babe! Since the copy of the 1st back up hasn’t finished yet I am not able to use the app and test it as much as I want so I wont say anything for now, beside the fact that it looks really promising little util to have and the 1st time I wanted to quit it and I got this dialog box, I didn’t choose the “This copy is already licensed” but instead I clicked on the “Buy later”. Another app, actually a widget that is free and looks nice is the Time Machine Buddy. Still waiting for the 1st back up to finish so I can see what useful info I can extract from Time Machine logs. And before I hit the final solution I have to give credits to this big FAQ on Time Machine stuff.

By hitting “sudo grep backupd /var/log/system.log” to the terminal I got a few weird stuff off the log of Time Machine. I realized that all back ups stopped when they were supposed to back up the workspace of Flash Builder 4, on the folder “Documents”. So I excluded the whole Documents folder from the back up but guess what.. Nothing again..

So back to those 4 plists on the system side of the disk and by bringing them back from an old back up I realized that the permissions “should” be wrong so I could try to repair them, just in case Time Machine could come back to life. (Ok I was desperate..) But those were system files and I am not sure how successful a “repair permissions” with Disk Util would be while I am running the system.. So.. Back to the basics. Start the machine with the OS’s disk or the original disk that came with ur mac and of course dont initialize an installation.. Just hit the Disk Util from the Utilities option on the 1st screen. Do a full repair disk and repair permissions and look at that.. Time Machine works again 🙂

Just boot up as usual, from the disk – not the DVD and enjoy this little crappy fruit util called Time Machine.

One thing remaining to test.. Enabling the Documents folder to be backed up again.. So lets see.. Adobe & Apple.. 😛


UPDATE 22/03/2011:

I re-enabled the folder causing the problem and of course the problem is back. Time Machine freaks out for some reason with the permissions of the files of a specific project on Adobe Flash Builder’s workspace. So all I had to do is to change the permissions manually and everything works fine now. How do u trace what is making your Time Machine stop the back up? Simple install the Time Machine Buddy and look for something like this on the latest back up:

Then follow the path and try to change the permissions (of the whole folder in my case). Another way is to use the Terminal command: sudo grep backupd /var/log/system.log

Thanks for reading.