Thursday, 16 February 2017 19:41

What file service should you use with network drives and Time Machine?

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What kind of networked volumes formatted with which methods can you use with Time Machine? A reader queried me on Twitter, trying to understand from their past experience and Apple’s current documentation, and I agree that it’s not very clear, because of Apple’s inclusive but non-specific language.

Apple used to favor the Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) file service for network drive sharing, local and remote. However, it’s deprecated AFP in favor of the Windows-compatible Server Message Block (SMB) format, which is what’s typically used with network-attached storage (NAS) devices and non-Apple Wi-Fi routers that allow USB-connected drives. (A NAS is typically a standalone disk-drive connected to a network via ethernet that act as a media and file server.)

Some people, including my Twitter correspondent, think that SMB is still unsupported, but Apple explicitly calls it out in its Sierra support document for Time Machine. However, Apple notes that not all SMB (or AFP) shared volumes work with Time Machine, and doesn’t provide details on how to determine this without mounting the volume and seeing if it shows up as an available Time Machine destination in macOS.

If you want to make sure before you buy, look for marketing promises made by the product’s maker and for forum posts by people trying to (and succeeding in) getting it to work.

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SPEEDEE spends his day searching the internet for the information you need to better use your Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch and all else Apple.

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