Guide: Backing Up Your Mac to WHS 2011 With Time Machine

by Paul Carvajal on May 5, 2011 · 34 comments

in Guides

One of the nice features of Windows Home Server 2011 is that it allows households that have a mixture of Macs and Windows PCs to connect both systems to the Home Server. Once I got my Release Candidate version of WHS 2011 up and running, I immediately started to hook up my Macs to my Home Server.

I went to http://<servername>/connect (in my case this was http://beast/connect, with my server name being “beast”) and loaded the connector software, which worked exactly as it should. The “Launchpad” loaded correctly and I logged right in.  I could access my Shared Folders, us the Remote Access, and Backup launched the Time Machine setup on my Mac.

However, when I went to choose the folder of my WHS 2011, I couldn’t select my WHS 2011 to use to store my backups. Whassup with that?

After a little research, it turns out there are a combination of steps that need to be completed.  If you use another drive other than a Time Capsule (Apple’s combination router/wifi/backup device), you have to perform these steps so Time Machine backup program will recognize the non Time Capsule drive AND you’ll need to create an Apple backup file, called a “sparsebundle”.

Microsoft can automate the below steps, however, in it’s infinite wisdom, has chosen to wait until RTM (which you can’t get unless you have a TechNet or MSDN subscription currently) to launch the completely automated version. However, this may not be included in the RTM version. In reading a Microsoft forum, there’s some discussion about support between Apple and Microsoft and IF it will be in the final version.  Hopefully it will be in the final version and will work correctly when you’re able to purchase the software.

But, just in case, below are the steps I went through to back up my Macs to my Windows Home Server 2011.

You will have to repeat these steps on every Mac you want to back up. It’s a pain, but it’s a one time setup and takes 5 minutes or so.  Also, these steps apply whether using WHS 2011 to store your backup or any other network drive.

The items that need to be copied and pasted ARE EXACTLY as they need to be – you only need to CHANGE THE ITEMS IN RED that you’re copying and pasting to your specific preferences or settings.

1. Go into your WHS 2011 Dashboard and create a Shared Folder in which to store your backups. You will need to do this from a Windows PC as the Dashboard will not run from a Mac. This step is optional as you can use an existing Share Folder if you like.

2. Go to your Mac and “mount” the Shared Folder by going to:

>Your WHS 2011 Launchpad
>Click on Shared Folders

Now, “Mount” the folder from your WHS you want to store your Mac Backups in.

3. Then launch the “Terminal” app on your Mac. Go to:



>Launch the “Terminal” app and copy the command below. This changes Time Machine to support non Mac drives:

defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

You may be asked for a password – this is a request for YOUR MAC PASSWORD, not your WHS password.

4. You can leave the “Terminal” app open.  You have one more command line to enter. However, we have do a little research to find all of the information needed.

  • We need the exact computer name. Go to:

>System Preferences

>Sharing – the computer name is at the top of the pop up box. Copy and paste this somewhere where you can get to it later.

Tip: Make sure you’re not using any spaces or character names in your Mac’s name. If you are, you need to take these out or you will not be able to create your sparsebundle (backup file) later in the process.

  • We need the MAC address of the computer. Go back to the terminal app and copy and paste the following command:

ifconfig en0 | grep ether | awk ‘{print $2}’ | sed ‘s/://g’

Copy and paste the MAC address somewhere as we’ll need this later.

5. You will need to copy and paste the command line below into your terminal app.

BUT FIRST, you’ll need to make the following changes TO THE ITEMS IN RED that you looked up in step 4:

  • The 200g represents the MAXIMUM size your backup can be. Change this to whatever size you like. Make sure it’s more than the size of your current total data on your Mac and allow room for it to grow.
  • OldMacAir-MAC is the name of Mac. Paste in the name of your Mac from step 4 in BOTH places
  • 002500fa1c63 references the MAC address. Change this to the MAC address of your computer you found in step 4.

sudo hdiutil create -size 200g -type SPARSEBUNDLE -nospotlight -volname “Backup of OldMacAir-MAC” -fs “Case-sensitive Journaled HFS+” -verbose ~/Desktop/OldMacAir-MAC_002500fa1c63.sparsebundle

Again, you may be asked for a password – this is a request for YOUR MAC PASSWORD, not your WHS password.

6. The above command line will create a “sparsebundle” file on your desktop. Copy the “sparse” into the share folder (which should be mounted on your desktop from step 2) on your WHS 2011 where you will store your backup.

7. Go back to Time Machine and select the shared folder, make any additional changes, and you’re done!

In your WHS 2011,the computer backup will show up as normal, however, you will not see the percentage completed.  Also, if you have your WHS 2011 Launchpad installed correctly on your Mac, it will report the backup status (Unsuccessful or Successful), even if you’re not backing up to your WHS.  In my case I have one Mac backing up to the WHS and another to a Time Capsule.  Both report their backup status as successful on the Dashboard.

Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? No worse than going to the dentist!

Article by

I guess you could say I'm Home Tech Enthusiast. I'm a little different than most of the people who probably visit the website. I'm not an IT person! I love technology and want to find cool things that have a purpose. I'm not one who likes to program, create things, etc., I like to spend my time using them. Plus, my wife is NOT technology oriented! The more complicated things are, the more my life is complicated! One thing I hate about electronics nowadays, is that all documentation is written as though you know this, you've already been to another site or section to find this, etc. Nothing is clear cut. So, I try to write everything to the lowest denominator. Keep it basic, keep it simple, and make it fun!


Paul Carvajal May 5, 2011 at 7:46 am

There’s an issue with the formatting on the command line you need to copy and paste to create your sparsebundle above. Here’s the line:

sudo hdiutil create -size 200g -type SPARSEBUNDLE -nospotlight -volname “Backup of OldMacAir-MAC” -fs “Case-sensitive Journaled HFS+” -verbose ~/Desktop/OldMacAir-MAC_002500fa1c63.sparsebundle

Unfortunately I can’t change the font color here, so below are the changes in the command you need to make:


Again, the descriptions of these are above in Step 5. Sorry about the inconvenience! Still learning WordPress!

hakr100 May 5, 2011 at 9:31 am

Good Grief! That’s a lotta steps…kudos to you for sticking with it until you succeeded.

I was backing up my two macs to my 470 and 485 WHS machines with a mac app called superduper! I never ran the latest WHS software.

Once superduper! was set up, and that only took a couple of steps, it would automatically backup the macs on whatever schedule I wanted.

I also used Time Machine, but to back up to an exterior hard drive.

I’ve sold my MSS machine(s) and moved onto a different little server that makes backing up macs and PCs a lot easier.

Paul May 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Do mind sharing what you’re using?

dear chap May 5, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Paul maybe you can cookup a simple script or util to do this ? Then probably the only input that is actually required from user might be just the server folder and possible MAC passwd.

Paul May 6, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Looks like someone’s already doing it.

Paul Carvajal May 10, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I need to clarify that Oribital is writing the complete add-in (based on Terry’s comments below), not a script. Sorry for the confusion.

Terry Walsh May 6, 2011 at 12:23 am


Nice walkthrough – if you don’t fancy hacking around though the steps note that there’s a free third-party add-in on the way to switch on Time Machine backup for Mac. My understanding is that it’s code complete and is undergoing some testing with Microsoft before release.


Sean May 6, 2011 at 11:09 am

In my trial, the MAC did not support a BARE-METAL restore option from this time-machine backup. It did support “FILE” based restore from the time-machine UI.

When I looked into this, I found that from the LEOPARD/SNOW LEOPARD CD, there wasn’t a SMB driver, so we couldn’t mount the backup for the restore.

For HP EX series, they created what seems to be a custom driver that they load off a FLASH drive, that will let you mount the backup and perform the Bare metal restore.

Is orbital planning on something similar for WHS 2011 Add-in?

Paul Carvajal May 10, 2011 at 4:57 pm

BareMetal Restore: Now, I haven’t tried this, but I don’t know why this won’t work.

Basically, to restore from a Time Machine backup (not a Time Capsule), you have to restore with an external drive contacted directly to the Mac. When you launch the OS DVD, you have an option to restore from a Time Machine backup.

You could copy your sparsebundle from the WHS to an external drive, connect it to the Mac, and restore it. Not ideal, but how often do you have to do this?

Here’s an article from the Apple website which talks about this:

I’ve contacted Orbital to see if I can get any info if they’re going to have bare metal restore.

Paul May 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Thanks Terry – that sounds a whole lot simpler!

Lee Tickett May 9, 2011 at 1:34 am

Hi Paul,
Good article- thanks. I did have to make a few changes…
Do you need the escalated privileges when running hdiutil? (i.e. do you need the sudo prefix?)
I found the resulting file could not be copied from my desktop (using drag & drop) because of a permissions issue. I ended up doing a sudo cp from the terminal but another article i found describes the same process but simply dropping the sudo prefix from the hdiutil command-line.
Have you any information on the script you mentioned someone is developing? Or the add-in mentioned in several articles by Orbital Technologies? I’m tempted to write something myself if someone doesn’t beat me to it…

Paul Carvajal May 10, 2011 at 5:09 pm


There shouldn’t be anything special permissions needed – just run it as an Administrator.

There are a couple of command lines floating around on the internet to create the sparsebundle without the “sudo”. You can also do this also without the command lines by using the Disk Utility -I thought this was easier.

Sorry – I should have clarified this, I was referring to the add-in Orbital Technologies, not an actual script. I’ve contacted them to see if I can get more information from them.

Ben Ogilvie May 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm

The wegotserved 2011 mac backup forum may be worth a read. This method doesn’t appear viable over time. It seems to work for only about 7-10 days.

Paul Carvajal May 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Thanks Ben for your comments.

Can you post a link of what you’re referring to? I looked through the forum and I couldn’t find what you’re referring to.

Just an FYI – I’ve been doing this for over 3 weeks with no issues.

Lee Tickett May 11, 2011 at 6:04 am

I have created a script to automate the process- see article
Please provide any feedback or feel free to improve the script!

Alex Kuretz May 11, 2011 at 9:34 am

Nice, thanks for writing up the script and sharing the link with us!

Paul Carvajal May 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Great job Lee – I’ve done the same thing in the past to copy files from HD to my iDisk using the Automator – why didn’t I think of this? :-)


Ben Ogilvie May 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm

It is in the Mac backup section ,
- as you can see, some had no problems, others , had some.

Paul Carvajal May 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Thanks Ben – appreciate it!

Ben Ogilvie May 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Your welcome Paul.

John B. July 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm

I was banging my head against the wall trying to get our 3 Macbook Pro’s (Snow Leopard) to backup on WHS2011. Here’s the easiest way that I found and it worked for each machine.

Site also provides process for a full restore. John

BigDel August 11, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Just bought a MacBook Pro with OSX-Lion. After installing connect software from my WHS 2011 onto it, I started Launchpad. Tried to do the Backup and it said backup must be setup. So I tracked down your article. But, will your procedure work with OSX Lion? I read Apple redid SMB, so I am wondering…

Alex Kuretz August 13, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Apparently Lion breaks things for Time Machine backup to WHS, there’s some links that supposedly work around it on page two of this forum topic:

Paul Carvajal August 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I haven’t upgraded to Lion yet, so I can’t say for sure.

There is a known issue when you upgrade your Mac to Lion that it breaks the Launchpad. However, that is the only issue I know.

If you’re upgrading to Lion, it’s suggested you uninstall your Launchpad and be sure that you use some sort program remover to ensure it’s

Here’s a link to an article discussing this:

BigDel August 15, 2011 at 5:54 am

Mac OSX Lion’s, Launchpad with the rocket icon is replaced by WHS 2011 Launchpad, and this is fine with me and probably most Mac users. There is a simple 3 finger pinch swipe to do the same task. All it does is show you the Apps as in the applications folder.

Terry October 4, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Will this work for WHS 1? I had Time Machine working by following directions from here: and getting it to WHS, but after upgrading to Lion, I started getting an AFP error (as last two comments in posts indicate – one being mine). Anyway, was hoping this might work in WHS1 and thought I’d ask before going through trial and error.

BigDel October 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

Has anyone made Paul’s procedure work with Lion?

DeShark May 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm

I’ve been trying to get my Time Machine setup to backup my Macbook Pro to my Windows 7 machine. No go. My Macbook Pro is running Lion and I get the AFP error trying to run the backup. What the heck?? Hello Apple!!!???

Lane Miles November 4, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Thanks for this.

Whenever I try to do this, I get an error message:

hdiutil: create: Only one image can be created at a time.
hdiutil: create: returning 0
Usage: hdiutil create [options]
hdiutil create -help

And no file is create. Help!

I know that my MAC address and computer name are correct. For the record, I’m running Mountain Lion.

enigma November 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm

same here when ever i do this i get
hdiutil: create: Only one image can be created at a time.
hdiutil: create: returning 0
Usage:hdiutil create [options]
hdiutil create -help

mountain lion as well? anyone??

JazJon January 6, 2013 at 11:04 pm

This seems to be the best method I can find so far, I haven’t tried it yet but sounds good.

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