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Mac OS X Time Machine – Stuck on “Preparing Backup”

Posted by jpluimers on 2016/04/25

For one of my USB backup drives, Time Machine was stuck showing “Preparing Backup”.

tmutil (which has a lot of undocumented parameters) helped me out.

tmutil status would not show any change for hours either:

retinambpro1tb:~ root# tmutil status
Backup session status:
{
    BackupPhase = ThinningPreBackup;
    ClientID = "com.apple.backupd";
    DateOfStateChange = "2015-05-04 19:27:31 +0000";
    DestinationID = "01AE12C7-1D3E-469E-BE7E-32DA30F0030E";
    DestinationMountPoint = "/Volumes/Elements2TB1";
    Percent = "-1";
    Running = 1;
    Stopping = 0;
}
...
retinambpro1tb:~ root# tmutil status
Backup session status:
{
    BackupPhase = ThinningPreBackup;
    ClientID = "com.apple.backupd";
    DateOfStateChange = "2015-05-04 21:13:28 +0000";
    DestinationID = "01AE12C7-1D3E-469E-BE7E-32DA30F0030E";
    DestinationMountPoint = "/Volumes/Elements2TB1";
    Percent = "-1";
    Running = 1;
    Stopping = 0;
}

So I:

  1. removed the .inProgress file found by ls -al /Volumes/Elements2TB1/Backups.backupdb/`scutil --get ComputerName`/*.inProgress
  2. rebooted with the USB drive attached
  3. waited for spotlight to complete
  4. manually started a backup
  5. verified it made progress using tmutil (you need to run that as root, for instance with sudo su -)

And it indeed made progress and finished:

retinambpro1tb:~ root# tmutil status
Backup session status:
{
    BackupPhase = ThinningPreBackup;
    ClientID = "com.apple.backupd";
    DateOfStateChange = "2015-05-04 21:34:04 +0000";
    DestinationID = "01AE12C7-1D3E-469E-BE7E-32DA30F0030E";
    DestinationMountPoint = "/Volumes/Elements2TB1";
    NumberOfChangedItems = 59584;
    Percent = 0;
    Running = 1;
    Stopping = 0;
}
RetinaMBPro1TB:~ root# tmutil status
Backup session status:
{
    BackupPhase = ThinningPreBackup;
    ClientID = "com.apple.backupd";
    DateOfStateChange = "2015-05-04 21:34:04 +0000";
    DestinationID = "01AE12C7-1D3E-469E-BE7E-32DA30F0030E";
    DestinationMountPoint = "/Volumes/Elements2TB1";
    NumberOfChangedItems = 70162;
    Percent = 0;
    Running = 1;
    Stopping = 0;
}
...
RetinaMBPro1TB:~ root# tmutil status
Backup session status:
{
    BackupPhase = ThinningPreBackup;
    ClientID = "com.apple.backupd";
    DateOfStateChange = "2015-05-04 21:34:04 +0000";
    DestinationID = "01AE12C7-1D3E-469E-BE7E-32DA30F0030E";
    DestinationMountPoint = "/Volumes/Elements2TB1";
    NumberOfChangedItems = 86254;
    Percent = 0;
    Running = 1;
    Stopping = 0;
}
...
RetinaMBPro1TB:~ root# tmutil status
Backup session status:
{
    ClientID = "com.apple.backupd";
    Running = 0;
}

–jeroen

via: Mac OS X Time Machine – Stuck on “Preparing Backup”.

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