Time machine via remote mac - seeking advice

Hi there,

I am looking for some advice, please.
I have recently inherited an old (2014) Mac Mini that I am hoping to set up as a home server.

I travel a lot and ideally want to connect some external storage in raid configuration to use as a time machine drive for my main computer whilst travelling. Obviously I could do this with a third party NAS drive, but since I have all the components I need I am keen to get a solution working this way.

I am already familiar with ssh access (eg. cyber duck) and remote desktop (eg. screens, jump desktop.), and also with mapping drives on a local network. But I really want to be able to log in from anywhere in the world and backup to my server, as I would do with a NAS.

Does anyone have any suggestions or guides? Thanks.

PS. I’m running Catalina 10.15.4 on all machines. I have also tried macOS Server without much luck now that all the services have been discontinued.

Could you clarify a bit, please? Which machine are you connecting to what other machine for Time Machine? Are you traveling with your “main computer” and looking it to somehow connect back to the 2014 computer at home to back up?

I wonder if Time Machine can be configured to backup across the internet through a tunnel back to your home machine?

FWIW, I backup key folders like Documents with Backblaze, which keeps on doing that if I’m at home, the office, or on the road. Just mentioning that as an option.

I use a Mac mini as a home server, mainly for backup of files archived on the Mac and new files/photos from my iPad & iPhone. When I’m traveling everything syncs automatically to the Mini via iCloud and Google Drive and is then backed up to local drives and offsite to B2 via Arq.

Thanks for your reply - yes, sorry, I left out that it was a 2014 Mac Mini. I have the Mac Mini at home acting as a server and it is connected via thunderbolt 2 to external storage in RAID configuration. When I am at home, I can easily automatically back up to those drives over the local network. I can also access the Mac Mini whilst travelling via SSH or remote login, but I haven’t had any luck accessing the time machine folder.

By main computer when travelling, I meant the laptop that I use to do my work on whilst away from home.

Ideally, when I go online, my travel laptop would be able to connect to the Mac Mini acting as a server, and then sync with time machine as if it were on my local network.

I’ll definitely have a look at Backblaze too. Thanks

TimeMachine doesn’t work well in situations like this. I can’t imagine it would be reliable over a vpn back to your house (if you could convince it to work).

I would suggest something like @WayneG uses, a shared folder that syncs between your laptop and the Mini. Then use time machine on the Mini to back that up to the RAID.

Another option would be to set up an SFTP server on the Mini and use Arq to backup to that.

Arq can also be used to back up to many cloud services such as Backblaze B2, Amazon AWS, Dropbox, etc.

(Note that there are two services Backblaze offers, a set-and-forget personal backup service, and their B2 service.)

I have an old TimeCapsule device, which can be configured for access over the internet via Airport Utility, so perhaps a similar thing is possible in the Network settings of the Mac Mini device.

As for performance and throughput – hard to guess.

I do a couple of things to support my road warrior work with my laptop. Use Dropbox to synch to the cloud (and thus down to the office/home machines), and carry a tiny SSD drive for backups as I go.

Everything I work on is in a Dropbox Folder ~\Dropbox, not under ~\Document. Then when I get a WiFi connection and Dropbox allowed (sometimes it’s blocked, e.g. on trains), Dropbox will sync up. Probably any of the other Cloud services can be used.

On my office desktop, I have it also connected to Dropbox, so when it’s running (most the time if not sleeping), then it will Sync the files down from Dropbox. And, this machine is backed up automatically by TimeMachine to two attached disks (and I also have Backblaze on that office machine running to make offsite backup for terrible disasters).

As others say, I doubt one can make TimeMachine work across the Internet. Or if it did it would certainly never finish with limited WiFi time available while travelling.

I carry with me on extended trips a little Samsung SSD drive that is configured to run as a TimeMachine backup drive to help with disasters that happen while on the trip. Yes, it happens. I just plug it in while in the hotel and it just works.

As the files are in Dropbox, if I’m so inclined to use my iPad or iPhone to do some work instead of the laptop, can do that also. After years of doing this, I don’t give it much thought anymore. Focus on the work.

Good idea. No reason not to have multiple time machines – the 2014 at home and the SSD on the road.

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Another powerful tool to consider is ChronoSync which is currently on sale through March 31.

Despite the name, it can do sync or backup.

If I was trying to do what you’re doing, I would checkout ChronoSync and Arq as potential solutions.

p.s. - under no circumstances should you try to run Time Machine over the Internet. It would only be slightly less painful than

This is excellent advice.

ChronoSync is rock solid, the support is amazing, and the promise it comes with is unique these days:

Screenshot of Safari (3-28-20, 12-44-29 PM)

Yes, you can do this. The caveat is the effort involved to have
a stable static ip available for your use. Here’s a 2018 article
from Mac Stadium with an overview. While dated, still valid.

I agree with everyone else though, don’t do this :slight_smile:
@rms offers a great suggestion. Get an external SSD to carry!

I use a few of these SSDs for backups. They are available in up to 2T, and are very pocketable (so your backup isn’t with your laptop).

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Hi everyone - thank you for your contributions, they’re greatly appreciated.
The portable SSD solution combined with Dropbox is what I have been working with, so good to know that others have found this a good solution too.

As suggested I’ll have a look at some of the other backup platforms, but will give TimeMachine over the internet a miss. Thanks again for everyone’s input.