View Full Version : Migrate Time Machine to Time Capsule

05-17-2008, 09:39 AM

I have been using Time Machine since Leopard came out with a disk connected to my Macbook Pro via FW800. I am going to buy a Time Capsule and would like to know if I can clone my existing TM backup to my Time Capsule using SD, so the backups can continue using the Time Capsule but all my old backups will still be available to me.

Has anyone tried this or know if any reason why this won't work?



05-17-2008, 10:43 AM
I want to do the same thing, move my existing Time Machine backup files to a Time Capsule so as to have continuous access to those older backups through Time Machine interface.

There's a simple answer in FAQ here:

However, I'm wondering if there are any special things we need to do to make sure it works.

I suppose we could try it out. I have a G-Drive as my current TM destination, and I want to copy the backups directory to a Time Capsule while maintaining all links. If I don't erase the G-Drive I'm guessing I could always go back to it.

It would be important, of course, to turn Time Machine off before doing the copying.

05-17-2008, 10:54 AM
Okay. I turned off Time Machine in prefs, launched SuperDuper! and selected my current TM backup drive as the source, but Time Capsule does not appear in the "Copy to" pulldown.

What now?

05-17-2008, 11:05 AM
The TimeCapsule is networked, and doesn't store the data the same way as your 'directly connected' drive. Instead, it stores the data in a 'sparse bundle' with a special name.

What I'd try is to tell Time Machine to back up to the Time Capsule. When it starts, stop it, and it should have created the sparse bundle on the Time Capsule.

Open it, then use SuperDuper! to copy from your Time Machine backup to the sparse bundle's 'image'. It'll take a really long time, most likely, but should work. You can then turn TM back on.

05-17-2008, 11:09 AM
Thanks. I'll try that and report.

05-17-2008, 11:20 AM
Okay. I started TM backing up to Time Capsule, then stopped it and turned off TM.

TM created a sparsebundle on TC, and in SuperDuper! when I select Disk Image in "Copy to" I can see the new sparsebundle, but it's grayed out so I can't select it.

I have the option to create a new folder on TC.

What now?

(Sorry to be dense, here)

05-17-2008, 11:30 AM
Don't select disk image. Open the bundle and choose its volume (what it opens as) in the destination pop-up directly.

05-18-2008, 04:56 AM
Sorry, but I still don't get it.
Attached what I have.
Time Capsule doesn't appear in the destination pulldown except if I select disk image, then I can see the Time Capsule folder, and the sparseimage created by Time Machine grayed out, and I can save a new sparseimage there under a new name, but then how does Time Machine recognize that new sparseimage's files as part of its collection of backup files?

05-18-2008, 07:58 AM
You need to open the sparse bundle that Time Machine created on the Time Capsule. Once done, that image's volume will appear in the destination pop-up.

05-18-2008, 08:07 AM
Thanks. That's my problem; the sparse bundle created by Time Machine is grayed out. If I allow TM to finish a full backup to Time Capsule would the spare bundle then be able to be opened from the SuperDuper! dialog, or do I need to open it some other way; if so, how? (Again, sorry to be dense.)

If I double-click the grayed-out spare bundle in SD dialog box, it places its name in the "save as" field. Should I go ahead and do that?

05-18-2008, 08:52 AM
Double-click it in Finder. Do not choose it in the "Disk image..." panel, choose the (mounted) image in the pop-up.

05-19-2008, 07:21 AM
Oh, duh! Now I think I got it.
I connected to Time Capsule, mounted the image located there, and now I have a mounted drive called "Backup of [Computer]" which appears in the pop-up.

Copy to that?

05-19-2008, 09:07 AM
Yes, exactly.

05-20-2008, 10:48 AM
Thanks, Dave! It looks like it worked.

It took a long time... almost 24 hours to copy about 165 GB from FireWire 800 drive to Time Capsule (Gigabit Ethernet) on G5 dual 1.8 GHz with 3GB of RAM -- while doing other things, of course.

After SD completed its work I turned Time Machine back on with Time Capsule as its destination, then clicked TM icon in the dock and I can see all backups back to the first one last November.

One final test: Time Machine started its latest backup but is waiting for Spotlight to reindex Time Capsule (Yes, I allowed SuperDuper! to update the Spotlight index at the end of copying). Spotlight is still "Estimating index time"/Indexing for Backup of [Computer], for 40+ minutes. I'm guessing indexing will take a while too.

Confidence is high, however. I fully expect that when indexing is complete Time Machine will do another snapshot while recognizing the multi-links. Will report.

Thanks again for your patient guidance.

05-20-2008, 10:57 AM
Glad I could help, and that you're all set.

05-20-2008, 01:24 PM
Further info:

Spotlight is still indexing the sparse bundle on Time Capsule. Progress indicates about 10 percent complete since 6:50 a.m. (It's now 10:20 a.m.) with 20 hours remaining.

Of course, we all know that these estimates of remaining time are notoriously inaccurate at the beginning of the process and get more accurate as more progress is made.


05-20-2008, 02:56 PM
Not so curious. Networks are slow. :)

05-20-2008, 05:22 PM
Another update, just in case anyone thought this would be a really quick process:

Now, 7 hours later, Spotlight still indexing backup directory on Time Capsule, a little over 40 percent complete now. Time estimate still wonky; in the last 15 minutes time estimate has gone from 70+ hours down to 15 hours. I suspect as more files are indexed Spotlight discovers ever more hard links to files/directories already indexed which need not be re-indexed (a non-techie's speculation).

A few minutes later now, and estimate is back to around 30 hours. Go figure.

But it will eventually finish.

05-21-2008, 09:22 AM

For the benefit of any who want to migrate Time Machine backups to a new drive (especially Time Capsule) so as to retain Time Machine backups as far back as possible, here's a final report on the experience.

It took quite a while, but the result is just what was desired: all existing Time Machine backups moved to a new drive (Time Capsule), and the new TM destination includes all the files back to the beginning of the TM history as it existed on the "old" TM destination drive.

It took quite a while for SuperDuper! to copy the files to the new destination as described in this thread, but the copy was successful with all links intact. One time-consuming part for me was, I'm sure, that I was copying to an Ethernet device. Even with Gigabit Ethernet, theoretically faster than FireWire 800, network traffic no doubt slowed copying.

And it may well be that the copying took longer because all the special links had to be maintained.

The other time-consuming step is that after the new TM destination is selected in TM prefs and TM turned back on, the new destination must be reindexed by Spotlight before regular TM backups can continue. Again, the new destination being an Ethernet device no doubt slowed progress, but a complete Spotlight reindex of 165GB takes a while regardless of the interface.

And of course I retained the files on the previous TM destination drive until the new destination was set up and working as expected.

Bottom line: You can copy existing Time Machine backup files to a new drive with SuperDuper! and keep TM history intact. It took two days to move files from a FireWire 800 external drive to an Ethernet-connected Time Capsule (Power Mac G5 dual 1.8 GHz with 3GB RAM), but it worked.

Thanks again, Dave, for the expert assistance!

05-21-2008, 09:50 AM
Yeah, Gigabit Ethernet is not faster than FW800. The wire speed might be faster, but that's only part of the equation. (But it'd take a while on both.)

Glad everything worked out as expected.