May 17, 2009

Speed up Time Machine backups on Mac OS X

Filed under: Tips — Tags: , — Webopius @ 7:22 pm

I purchased a new 1Tb external drive for one of our iMacs today. They are incredible value… this one was £65! The drive is so large that I partitioned it up into two drives – one for general files and the other for Time Machine backups.

Time machine’s initial ‘preparation’ backup was very, very slow

Anyway, I configured the new drive, opened Time machine preferences and chose the new disk as the backup device. Time machine started to backup the 49Gb of applications, system data and files sitting on the iMac.

3 hours later… only 13Gb backed up!

This couldn’t be right, at this rate it would take a whole night to complete the initial backup.

The fix for slow Time machine backups… disable Anti-Virus software

I thought others might find the fix for this problem useful. The only difference between the iMac I was configuring and the other Macs we have was that this one had Anti-Virus software installed. All the other iMacs were running Time Machine fine without any serious performance issues.

So, to get Time Machine to speed up, just turn off Anti-Virus. If you are worried about Viruses on a Mac (very very rare), then by all means turn it on again after the initial backup.

On our machine, this was a two-step process. First, I used the anti-virus configuration screen (Sophos in this case) to turn off active scanning. Then, I launched activity monitor (Applications->Utilities->Activity Monitor) and found another anti-virus process running. Click on the name of the process and click the ‘quit process’ button (top left) to stop.

Almost at once, Time Machine sped up 10x. In the 10 minutes it’s taken to write this article, I can see that it has backed up another 5Gb already.

Hope you find this tip useful.

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