Move Time Machine backup from NAS to USB drive

I performed a Time Machine backup to my NAS’s Time Machine share, and also a backblaze backup for good measure, before performing a fresh operating system installation but not restoring from Time Machine backup. My goal was to only selectively restore applications and application data to my M1 Macbook running macOS 14.3.1.

Plan A - I figured migration assistant would let me choose specific apps and their associated configuration data to restore , but it sits for an hour saying “Connecting” when I choose the NAS Time Machine backup as the source. In the interest of time, and also to know sooner if my plan of selective restoration will even work, my idea is to copy the backup from the Time Machine share to a local USB drive , and restore from there.

Plan B, I want to inherit the backup on my reformatted Mac so I can restore files that way. An also resume using it for backups.

Is plan A or B feasible? For Plan B, I tried adding the NAS as a backup destination, but instead of inherited , it wants to set it up as a new backup. It asks for configuration settings such as encryption and asks for a new username and password. I stopped there as I don’ t want to erase my backup!

Thanks in advance.


I was unable to use the TM backup on the network drive for migration, or to browse it after adding it to ™.

™ did prompt me to continue use the backup
or to create a new one. I selected “continue” but none of the last year’s worth of data appeared in the backup file, despite it being 1.7 TB in size!

Luckily, I have made a another backup using backblaze, and all of my files were there.

Lesson learned, don’t trust Time Machine when it comes time to restore. It may or may not work.

Time Machine puts your files in its own database that is only conceptually the same as what was on your internal drive. It really works best only with the machine and software that was running when the backup was made.

Too late now, I guess, but this task works in a straightforward manner with software like Carbon Copy Cloner or any other backup software that clones your system to look identical as far as folder structure and file location is concerned. Then you connect the external backup drive to your freshly installed Mac and drag and drop whatever you want.