Lives in the UK. Likes blogging, cycling and eating lemon drizzle cake. Roger is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 143 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Apple Mac Time Machine Runs Very Slowly

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Not a lot of people know this, but I write many of my blogs in The Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s cafe: the food’s really good and, for a provincial art gallery, there are some very fine painting to be seen producing an atmosphere I find conducive to writing.

I write my blogs using an early 2011 13” Macbook Air with MacOS 10.7.5. This is backed up over my network using Time Machine, which used to work pretty well, backing stuff reasonably quickly1. However, over the past few months it’s become slower and slower and I realized that I had to do something about this when it took 9 hours to back up 104MB of 6.5GB, which is frankly RUBBISH.

After digging around, I found a few rumours that Time Machine and Spotlight interact in some way, with Time Machine coming off worse.

The 'fix'2 for this problem is to simply disable Spotlight whilst backing up. You can do this by entering the following command in a terminal:

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

This unloads the Spotlight mds from launchd. Having made this change my 6.5GB was backed up in a matter of minutes - a startling improvement.

Once your backup is complete, you can turn Spotlight on again with the following command:

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

I’m assuming that you don’t schedule Time Machine to perform hourly backups, if you do then you might want to leave Spotlight turned off; I have, as I hardly use it.

1One of the reasons I swapped to a Mac was that Windows backup had really poor performance no matter what I did.

2More of a work around - Apple needs to sort it out, it should just work.
Published at DZone with permission of Roger Hughes, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Jan Willem Janssen replied on Tue, 2012/10/09 - 8:16am

Maybe you should run your software update, as there's an update for your problem:

Roger Hughes replied on Wed, 2012/10/10 - 7:37am in response to: Jan Willem Janssen

Just my luck - write a blog on 30th Sept and Apple post an update on 4th Oct...

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