Full Disk Restore from Time Machine Backups - Over the Network

Turns out Time Machine is not just for accidentally deleted files – it works great for restoring a Mac from bare metal, too. Even over the network.

James Duncan Davidson’s instructions for using theOSX Leopard install DVD to boot and restore from a Time Machine backup work great if you back up to aUSB or FireWire drive.

But I use Time Machine over the network, so my backup set wasn’t available. Nedospasov had the secret for mounting the network backup share first.

Here’s the whole process:

  1. Boot from the installer DVD. Choose “Options…” to get the Utilities menu

  2. Utilities > Disk Utility to partition the disk the way you like it

  3. Utilities > Restore System from Backup… If your Time Machine backup set appears, then restore away. While there’s a button here to connect to a remote disk, that option wasn’t clickable for me. So we’ll have to mount our network volume manually.

  4. Utilities > Terminal Run this command to mount your backup volume manually (substitute your username, password, and so forth):

    mount -t afp afp://username:password@hostname/ShareName /Volumes

Update: On Snow Leopard, you may need to create the mountpoint first (thanks, Darren!):

    sudo mkdir /Volumes/Time\ Machine\ Backupsmount -t afp
    afp://username:password@hostname/ShareName /Volumes/Time\ Machine\ Backups
  1. Utilities > Restore System from Backup… and you should now be able to choose your Time Machine backups.

Wait for System Restore to do it’s thing. Over my 100Mb network, it took about four and a half hours to restore 80G. WiFi would require even more patience.

Once the restore is done, you’ll be asked to reboot. And then, ta-da – just about everything will be back just the way it was. A couple of exceptions: Mail will rebuild its cache the first time you start it. You’ll have to re-authorize iTunes. And if you use Web Sharing, Apache won’t start because its log directory isn’t restored.

To fix Web Sharing, recreate Apache’s log directory. From Terminal, run this command:

    sudo mkdir /private/var/log/apache2

And that’s all. At least for OSX 10.5.3. While Time Machine does not give you a bootable external drive the way that a backup with SuperDuper! might, Time Machine support baked into the OSX install DVD makes this a great option. With Time Machine we get file versioning and disaster recovery. Way to go, Apple!

13569 views and 7 responses
  • May 4 2011, 3:12 PM
    Darren responded:

    I think your instructions are out of date for Snow Leopard.

    Only a small change, but this works:

    $ mkdir /Volumes/TimeMachine
    $ mount -t afp afp://user:password@afpserver.local/ShareName /Volumes/TimeMachine

    Quit Terminal, then enter the Time Machine Restore utility. The unsupported backup volume should then show up.



  • Jun 22 2011, 8:11 PM
    Eric Johnson responded:
    Thanks, Darren! I've updated the post accordingly.
  • Jul 18 2011, 1:40 AM
    vfdvd responded:
  • Mar 2 2012, 9:23 AM
    Glenn responded:
    Thank you!

    I was stuck here with my DroboFS not showing up in the list of restore points. This fixed it! On Lion you don't need to create the mount point first.

  • Mar 22 2012, 3:10 PM
    blazejpawlak responded:
    In my case I had to create the mount point manually and then additionally issue 'hdid /Volumes/myBackupVolume/myBackup.sparesbundle

    Only after that the backup showed up on the list.

  • Mar 23 2012, 1:28 PM
    briancellis (Twitter) responded:
    I followed Darren's instructions and was getting 1069 errors when attempting to mount the drobo fs. I found that using the ip address in place of afpserver.local did the trick with mount_afp afp://username:password@ /Volumes/TimeMachine

    Good news is I'm back in business with 10.6. Thanks for the help!

  • Apr 25 2012, 2:47 PM
    esti responded:
    I restored a MacBook Pro 13 using a Lion installer. I had to follow the steps blazejpawlak describes. Specifically:

    mount -t afp aft://user:password:192.168.xx.xx/ShareName /Volumes/TimeMachine
    hdid /Volumes/TimeMachine/myBackup.sparsebundle

    Without the hdid step the volume didn't show in the list of volumes.