Time Machine over a network is a mess, using Arq instead

Two recent articles by Howard Oakley:


have confirmed and explained the reasons behind my decision to switch from using my Time Capsule with Time Machine to using Time Capsule with Arq instead.

While I did not do the extensive research that Howard did, I knew that the experience of using Time Capsule with Time Machine was extremely poor.

However, Arq is designed to run over a network. So I reformatted the drive in my Time Capsule and pointed Arq at it, and it has been working great ever since.

I still have a local Time Machine backup to a local drive, but I think I’m done trying to use Time Machine over a network until Apple invests some time in improving the experience (which, sadly, I don’t foresee happening, but I’d love to be wrong).


I didn’t even know this was possible! Details, please?

I recently upgraded to Arq 7 and pointed it at my Synology to backup Documents, Desktop and few other things. I had previously used the Drive app from Synology, which is plodding and unreliable. The initial backup with Arq zipped along through 122 GB o’stuff, and just hums along in the background ever since.

I’d come to the same conclusion and in face, I don’t use Time Machine now at all - I use Arq to backup to my Synology using SFTP, so it works when not at home as well (some minor overhead at home compared to SMB) but works fine.

There’s not much to say, really. The Time Capsule is just a network volume mounted over SMB, and Arq can backup to network volumes via SMB or AFP.

I just reformatted my Time Capsule disk using AirPort Utility, mounted it, and pointed Arq at it. Now Arq just uses the Time Capsule drive like any other drive on the network.

The best feature? Arq never tells me “Something Bad Happened and Now You Need to Restart Your Backups From Scratch.”

Do you have to set up the Synology a specific way to get it to backup even when offsite? This sounds really awesome!

For the longest time I had a lot of trouble with my QNAP volumes staying mounted and it didn’t seem to matter what backup software I was using. Then I read something on a forum about a OSX software “switch” that seems to solve a lot of these problems once turned on (serverperfmod). It allows for a server mode. I decided to take the risk and pulled the lever. The only thing I can say is that it seemed to have worked… I’ve had no troubles for the last ten months, volumes stay mounted and backups just work. I’ve largely forgotten about my NAS whereas before I was constantly fiddling with it. But… what else does serverperfmod do to my system?

Well, there is this description https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202528 and for details there is this https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/264958/what-does-serverperfmode-1-actually-do-on-macos but really doesn’t like it would do much useful for networking.

At one point in time, several years ago, I added

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.NetworkAuthorization AllowUnknownServers -bool YES

to fix a problem where there was unwanted dismounting. But I haven’t had to do this in recent machines/OS versions.

Yeah I have given up for Time Machine over the network. Its slow and often fails.
ARC with the ARC Agent app is a good alternative but has its quirks that don’t make it user friendly for the average user.

Since I am use a Synology NAS I have started to use the Synology Drive App and have been very impressed how well it works.

Thanks for the links. After skimming the second one, I feel less anxious about running my mac in server mode. It does say it enables more background tasks to be processed but suggests it would only be necessary for large numbers of connections… Still, I’m very happy with how my QNAP is running.

I have the NAS setup with SFTP access and a Synology quickconnect URL. I just set Arq to use this URL as the destination and it works inside and outside of my network.

I had to port forward the SSH port as well but that depends on your router.

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Well. I use TimeMachine with USB drives and to Synology NAS just fine. When I have to call on it to recover a file to repair a mistake it serves me well. Just saying.

Good thing we’re not on the Mac Average Users forums :wink:


How does Arq handle a disk-full condition?

I’m not 100% sure, but I’ve never had it come up.

Arq has pruning options to avoid full disks, with retention options similar to what Time Machine uses. I think it also supports quotas, which is what I think I’ve used to keep it from filling entire disks before.

Funny to be reading this today, while my MacBook Pro is trying to Time Machine backup over wifi and I’ve been sitting on an 18 hour estimate for about 2 hours.

I had upgraded by my MBP and the external drive attached to my Mac mini that I use as the target disk to APFS when that functionality became available in Big Sur. Big woop.

Sounds like it might be worth the $50 to make that jump to Arc and give it a try at some point soon!

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Funny I just tried and then upgraded to Arq7 too - and subscribed so now backing up PC Laptop, Macbook Air, and Mac Mini to my Synology.

As an additional benefit going to Arq online too for my offsite backup.

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How’s everybody’s experience with Arq 7? I know that 6 was a mess and I’m still on 5, which is pretty good for my needs except that it doesn’t support the M1.

I didn’t have any trouble upgrading from v5 to v6, but it did take me a while to find everything. After that v7 was like a drive home. It’s a native Mac app and I’ve not had a single problem.

Again, no issues with 7 here. I’d bought 6 but moved back to 5 fairly quickly. Waited a bit before installing 7 but have had no issues since.