How-To: Configure Time Machine with Windows Home Server 2011

(UPDATE 04/11/2011 – Corrected error with sparseimage. Should be sparsebundle. Directions corrected.)

Note: These directions will not work with Mac OS X Lion as Apple has removed the necessary components to allow this functionality to work.

In today’s how-to, we’re going to setup Time Machine for a Mac client with the backups being stored on Windows Home Server 2011. These same steps should work with Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials as well. (P.S. If after reading this, and you agree with me that setup could be easier, go here and vote.)

Step 1: Create shared folder on server

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  • Click the Shared Folders and Hard Drives tab

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  • Click Add a Folder, and fill in the details then click Next

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  • Click Specific People, and then assign Read/Write permissions to the user account you wish to use on your Mac.

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  • Click Add Folder,and then when the process is finished, click Close.

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Step 2: Enable Network Volume Support and create SparseBundle file

  • On each Mac that you wish to back up, go to the Applications folder, then Utilities, then open Terminal and type the following command then press Enter.
    • defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.20.04 PM

  • We need to determine the MAC address of the Ethernet port (en0) to properly create the sparsebundle file. (NOTE: Even if you are using a wireless connection to backup, you MUST use the MAC address of the Ethernet port.) To do so, in the same Terminal window, type ifconfig and press Enter.  Look for the line starting with en0, and then look just below that for the line starting with ether and make note of the address on that line.

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.20.42 PM

  • Now we will create the sparsebundle file that Time Machine will use. In the same Terminal  window, type the following command and press Enter. (NOTE: For the hard drive size, it needs to be the size of your hard drive. If you have a 160GB hard drive, then it will be ‘-size 160G’.)
    • hdiutil create –size <Hard Drive size>G –fs HFS+J –volname “<computername> Backup” <computername>_<MACAddress>.sparsebundle
      • Replace <Hard drive size> with the size of your hard drive
      • Replace <computername> with the name of your computer (Can be found in System Preferences –> Sharing) (Note: You may want to change the name to make it something short and simple.)
      • Replace <MACAddress> with the MAC Address you made note of in the previous step, leave out the colons in the address

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.21.54 PM

Step 3: Copy Sparsebundle to server and enable Time Machine

  • Close Terminal, then go to the Go menu and click Connect to Server, and type in smb://<ip address or name of server>, then press Enter. Choose the Shared Folder you created and click OK.
  • Browse to the location that the sparsebundle file was created in. This will most likely be the root of your user folder. (/users/<your username/)
  • Drag this sparsebundle file to the shared folder on the server

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  • After the file finishes copying, open System Preferences, and then click Time Machine

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  • Click Select Disk and select the shared folder on your server

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  • When prompted, enter the user name and password you wish to use and click Connect.

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  • A countdown of 120 seconds should begin, and then once that countdown finishes, your backup should commence.

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.46.06 PM  Screen shot 2011-04-10 at 1.01.47 PM

Congratulations! You’ve just configured Time Machine with Windows Home Server 2011.

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  • Peter Stromquist

    One issue I ran into was not specifying a large enough disk image size when using hdiutil. I have a 320GB hard drive in my MacBook. When I used the switch -size 320g to create the image, I would get the following error when finally performing my first Time Machine backup:

    Time Machine can’t use the disk image because it can’t be written to.

    At first I thought I hadn’t set up permissions properly on the server, but those were OK. I then tried increasing my image size. In my case I just doubled it and went with -size 700g and it worked! I think this is better anyway since it gives me more room for historical backups.

    ~pete

  • http://www.tomontech.com Tom Ziegmann

    Thanks, Rod! Made that update to the article.

  • Nrg

    Nice try, but I get a ‘Network backup disk does not support the required AFP features.’ and does not work :-(

    • http://www.tomontech.com tziegmann

      @Nrg – The issue is that Lion is not supported due to changes that Apple has made.

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