I wanted to setup Time Machine on my Macbook to backup to my network drive. However after some tinkering I come to realize that by default the Time Machine program can not do this unless it was formatted using the apple file system. After some research and some testing I have come up with the solution and just jotting them down here for anyone having the same issue as me.


There will be multiple steps for this tutorial. I recommend that you read through this tutorial before you begin. Terminal commands will be supplied at the end for the CLI users.

  1. First we will need to connect to the network share that Time Machine will use as the backup destination. To do this click ‘Go’ at the top then ‘Connect to Server’
    Connect to Server
  2. Fill out the Server Address (An example would be smb:// Please note the last part of the address as it will be used later (ie. OSXLaptop)
  3. We will now need to know the name of the computer. To do this go to ‘System Preferences’ then click on the Sharing Icon. Note the name.
    Computer Name
  4. We will now need to find the MAC address of the computer. To do this click on the Apple logo then go to ‘About this Mac’. Click on More Info at the bottom. Under contents select Network then under active services select Ethernet (this is the mac address Time Machine uses). Record the MAC address.
    MAC Address
  5. We will now need to open up the Terminal application. Once it is open you will need to type in the following:

defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1


Creating the disk image

We will need to create a sparsebundle disk image to put on the network share where Time Machine will be used.

  1. Open up Disk Utility under applications > utilities.
  2. Click New Image icon at the top.
  3. Change the following settings under the new image creation window:
    1. Image Format: sparse bundle disk image
    2. Partitions: No partition map
    3. Encryption: none
    4. Format: Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
    5. Size: Custom, set this to whatever size you need. The initial image will not be this size but this is the max that Time Machine will use. A 500 GB image will initially be around 400 MB.
      Disk Utility Settings
  4. You will want to save this to your desktop, do not save it to the network drive as it will fail creating it. The name will be the <Computer Name>_<MAC address> from the earlier process. It will be similar to MyLaptop_ffa9d9b8c8a4
  5. Once the above info is correct, save the image.
  6. Copy the disk image to the network drive that is already mounted (OSXLaptop from previous example) and paste it directly into that folder. Do not put it in any sub directory as it will not work.


Configuring Time Machine

  1. Open up Time Machine Preferences.
  2. Click on Select Disk.
  3. You should now see your network drive in the disk selection window.
  4. Select that disk, if there are no password requirements just select guest.
  5. That is it, you should be able to backup to the network drive.


Terminal Commands

Here are the terminal commands for the above steps, anything after the pound (#) sign denotes a comment, do not type this in!

  1. hostname #This will show a name similar to MyLaptop.local or, the hostname you are looking for is MyLaptop.
  2. ifconfig en0 | grep ether #This will give you the MAC address
  3. defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1
  4. hdiutil create -size 500g -fs HFS+J -volname “Time Machine Backup” <NAME>_<MAC>.sparsebundle #This creates the sparsebundle disk image
  5. rsync -aE <NAME>_<MAC>.sparsebundle /Volumes/NETDRIVE/. #Copy the file to the network drive, replace NETDRIVE with your network name (from step 1 of setup)
  6. rm -rf <NAME>_<MAC>.sparsebundle #Removes the file from the current directory.