What to Do When Time Machine Backup Fails to Restore Mac Data?


The Time Machine backup fails sometimes, displaying alert messages. Otherwise, the user needs to open System Preferences in Time Machine. The red (i) icon is clicked for obtaining more information. When the Time Machine backup failure happens, the disk may become inaccessible and needs a data recovery software for Mac for fixing the issues.

Restore mac data

The Various Alert Messages and the Troubleshooting
The user needs to troubleshoot the issues, before trying the professional software. The first thing that the user must do is the updating of the software. If the Time Machine is used along with Time Capsule, a wireless device, then the Time Capsule needs to be updated with the latest firmware and also the software.

Troubleshooting Tips

  1. Message: Some items are not backed up

The files that are marked with “Do not back up” in Time Machine preferences, is the reason as to why the files are not backed up.

The files can be removed from the “Do not back up” list with the following steps :

  • The Apple Menu is chosen – >System Preferences
  • Time Machine is chosen from the View Menu
  • Options is clicked
  • The “Do not back up” list appears
  • If an item is to be removed from the list, then the item has to be selected and the Remove is clicked
  • Done is clicked
  1. Message: “Preparing” phase takes a long time

Time Machine has a system which tracks the files and folders that are changed, since the last backup happens, If any situation arises, in which the changes are lost by the files and the folders, then the “inventory of the current data” as well the “inventory of the backup” is compared. The message displayed for a longer period of time has the “Preparing…” status message.

  1. Message: “The disk (volume name) was not repairable by this computer. It is

being made available to you with limited functionality. You must back up your data and reformat the disk as soon as possible.” 

There are some ways to repair the Time Machine Backup, under the three situations and these are :

  • Apple Menu – > System Preferences are chosen
  • View Menu – > Time Machine is chosen
  • The slider bar is set off and the Time Machine backups are disabled
  • The Disk Utility located in /Applications/Utilities is opened
  • Repairing the backup is dependent on where the backup is stored and the three situations are:

Repairing when Storing the Backups on a Time Capsule
The steps in the procedure are:

  • Time Capsule is mounted
  • The Finder Window is used and the Time Capsule is located in the sidebar
  • The Time Capsule is double-clicked
  • The Backup Sparsebundle is located by clicking on the Backup folder

When Time Capsule is used with multiple Macs, then the affected computer name in the file name identifies the location of the sparse bundle. The Apple Menu-> System Preferences can be used for locating the Mac address. The sparse bundle filename, without the colons given to the Mac address.

  • The sparse bundle is dragged to the sidebar of Disk Utility
  • The sparse bundle is selected along with the Repair option
  • If there is a successful repair, then the Time Machine is used to back-up through the Time Machine. Otherwise, with an unsuccessful repair, the sparse bundle is deleted and a new backup is made

Using the External Hard Drive to Store Backups
The steps for the above procedure are:

  • The external hard drive is mounted
  • The external backup drive is located with Disk Utility
  • The Disk Utility sidebar, when attached to the Mac should be able to mount the backup
  • The external backup drive is selected and then the Repair option

Using another Mac with Mac OS X v10.5 and in the network or storing backups on a server
The above procedure will have the following steps:

  1. Time Machine stores backup on the server or the other Mac and the user gets connected
  1. The Mac or the server, when connected, must be mounted in the sidebar of the Disk Utility
  1. The backup server is selected
  2. Repair is started
  1. Message: Time Machine starts a new, full backup instead of a smaller incremental backup

There are three reasons for which the above message can take place:

  • A full restore was performed
  • There was a change in the computer name of the System Preferences and a full backup is made by Time Machine, in the next scheduled backup time
  • A recent hardware repair that had taken place
  • The best solution when this happens is to contact the Apple Retail store or the Apple Authorized service provider. The previous backups can be browsed and recovered with the following sequence:

Time Machine Dock icon- > Contextual menu-> “Browse Other Time Machine disks”
The Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery is a professional tool which can safely recover when the above troubleshooting tips fail. The inaccessible data is recovered with the software.

Some of the Red (i) Messages
The messages appearing on pressing the Red (i) are:

Red (i) message: “No volumes to be backed up were available.”

This is due to the volumes in the ‘Do not backup’ list. The verification of all available volumes needs to be done with:
System Preferences-> in the Time Machine preference pane- >click Options.

Red (i) message: “Unable to complete backup. An error occurred while copying files to the backup volume.”

The system is restarted and the backup is taken once again.

Red (i) message: “Time Machine could not be configured. The built-in network interface could not be found”

The user needs to go the location, from the Go Menu of the Finder with:


  • The file is copied to the desktop using the “NetworkInterfaces.plist”
  • The file “NetworkInterfaces.plist” is deleted. The name and the password of the Administrator are entered if asked for.
  • The Mac is restarted
  • Network and Time Machine preference panes in System Preferences.are reconfigured
  • With the issue still persisting the Apple’s Authorized service provider is contacted

You can try or buy the product here.


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