Make Time Machine Backup To Any Volume

After a long search around the net I found a simple way to make leopard enable time machine for any backup system. This includes backup up to a NFS or Samba share over a network. Simple open and run the following command:

defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

That’s it, after that you should be able to choose your mounted volume in time machine for backup. Now I just need to figure out how to force time machine to backup to a subdirectory rather than my linux home directory. I might have to make an explicit Samba share for that.

Edit based on someone’s comment

If the above command isn’t working for you try using sudo:

sudo defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

13 thoughts on “Make Time Machine Backup To Any Volume

  1. So where does Time Machine backup to by default or which locations can you choose by default?

  2. Leopard Time Machine only let’s you backup to a directly attached drive. Either a 2nd internal drive (not your system drive) or an external drive attached via USB or Firewire.

    They also have added network backup via the new airport drive they announced at Mac World last week. Personally, I don’t need a branded extra drive and would rather stick stuff on my linux box RAID 5. Now that I have backup working over SAMBA my next goal is to properly setup Kerberos and maybe try out secure NFS. I’ve always wanted to get single sign on working.

    Of course all this needs to wait on work/WoW addiction.

  3. Hi,

    I tried using my NFS drive (shared from an Ubuntu machine). However, after selecting the drive and turning the “on” button, as soon as I leave the window, it gives me something like “incompatible file system” and, when I go back, the automatic time machine button is back to off.

    Any idea what might be going on?

    The nfs setup should be ok: I used to backup from mac os 10.4 to the same drive and I can still listen to music/save files on another nfs drive using 10.5.

    Many thanks,

  4. Hmm that’s odd. I haven’t tried it through NFS yet. I’m currently using a Samba share for time machine and that’s working fine for me.

    My linux box is running Gentoo, and the share is a reiserfs partition on a RAID5.

  5. @Jthon –

    I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that Time machine doesn’t limit one to directly attached storage. But I’m posting this anyway so people don’t get the wrong idea.

  6. @Steve-

    I know Leopard allows one to backup to remote storage, but by default this seems to be restricted to the Time Capsule device Apple sells (in the beta it worked on all shares I’m told).

    What I posted here is a work around that turns on network backup for any network share such as a CIFS or NFS share.

  7. Just so you know, you NEED to sudo the command that you have posted.
    ‘sudo defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1’


  8. Does this allow time machine to backup a fat32 data drive to a fat32 backup drive or does the backup drive have to be formatted to Mac HFS?

  9. Time machine uses some filesystem tricks which are only supported by the Mac HFS+ file system. Time machine can back up to drives which aren’t HFS+ formatted but only by creating a virtual drive image it will mount to do the backup.

    You won’t be able to read the volume except from a Mac, and the file system structure doesn’t make much sense outside the time machine interface.

    If you just want to simply mirror two drives and you don’t care about revisioning files you could just use rsync for backup.

  10. Im pretty much looking for the best way to protect my data and be able to access history. Time machine is great but the reason for the fat32 drive is so my windows machine can access it. And also I had some corrupted word documents after transfering them to a HFS+ drive and now im not sure if I can trust it. Currently I have the fat32 drive mirrored. What would be my best solution, I do love Time machine but its to bad it isnt supported with Fat32 drives.

  11. I want to buy the DealExtreme Lan-Storage usb network adapter for hard disks. Thing is, it cannot do HFS+. It can only manage ntfs,fat32, ext2/3. Is it possible to backup Time Machine on these? How do I do it?

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