Category Archives: Computers

Mac OS X and Windows

Time Machine Backup fails on network

This article is a life’s-work saver if your network time machine backup is playing up.
I was all ready to give up on time machine as worse than worthless. It’s one thing for a backup to fail because of a wireless network failure. It’s an orders-of-magnitude different kettle of stinky fish for a failed backup to take down your entire backup history with it.

Copy of text

This is a modification of an original post for use when you have a corrupt sparsebundle backup on a NAS (as opposed to an external drive attached to a router) and it needs to be repaired. The NAS is likely a hardware product from the likes of Netgear, Synology, Buffalo or QNap – or for those of us with a home-grown backup server running FreeNAS.

The error you may see is “Time Machine completed a verification of your backups. To improve reliability, Time Machine must create a new backup for you.” This can be fixed by following the below.

From your Mac, connect to the network share that houses the sparsebundle. At the top level of the drive are the various sparsebundles that make up your individual computer backups. Do not double click on these sparsebundles or try to repair with Disk Utility.

Open Terminal and then switch to root by typing
sudo su –
and then enter your password.

The verication that has already run has marked your sparsebundle as bad, so first we need to make it look normal.
From the command line
chflags -R nouchg /Volumes/{name of your network share}/{name of}.sparsebundle
This may take a little while.

Now type
hdiutil attach -nomount -noverify -noautofsck /Volumes/{name of your network share/{name of}.sparsebundle

You will then see something like
/dev/diskx Apple_partition_scheme
/dev/diskxs1 Apple_partition_map
/dev/diskxs2 Apple_HFSX

Where x is the disk id for the external disk. You are interested in the one labeled Apple_HFSX or Apple_HFS. It might be 2, 3, 4 or higher.

At this point, I have found that the filesystem check is already happening. You can check for activity by tail’ing the fsck_hfs.log
tail -f /var/log/fsck_hfs.log

If fsck is going then in my experience it will be able to repair the sparsebundle. Go away for a few hours and let it chug away. When it is done, you will either see
‘The Volume was repaired successfully’
‘The Volume could not be repaired’

If the latter you can run disk repair again:
fsck_hfs -drfy /dev/diskxs2

(Optionally if you have the available RAM, you can set a RAM cache in the command above to help speed up this command like so:

fsck_hfs -drfy -c 750 /dev/diskxs2

This will use 750MB of RAM – feel free to change this amount to best fit your system (amount of RAM vs size of your Time Machine Sparsebundle). If you are unsure about this, use the first command. Make sure to replace x with whatever number your disk is from the output above.

The letters “drfy” tell the filecheck utility different things. d for ‘Show Debug’ – r for ‘Rebuild Catalog Tree’ – f for ‘Force’ and y for assume ‘yes’ to any prompts. Now go do something for an hour or two. Come back and
tail -f /var/log/fsck_hfs.log

If all went well, the last output you will see is ‘The Volume was repaired successfully’
Now you need to type
hdiutil detach /dev/diskxs2

You can redo the above for any other Time Machine sparse bundles you have permission to modify while you have the network share attached to your computer.

Final step.
When complete, you need to edit an plist file within the sparsebundle that records the state of the backup. On the top level of the sparsebundle find a file called Edit it and remove these two nodes


Finally you want to change


Now you can eject the network share and have Time Machine give it another go. After the (long) verification step, backups should proceed once again.


Ideally this should be done over a gigabit wired network connection. Do not attempt using Wi-Fi. You also want to make sure your machine does not go to sleep during the above operation.

[Update: 12.23.2012]

If after running the initial

fsck_hfs -drfy /dev/diskxs2

command you get a message in the fsck_hfs.log along the lines of

RebuildBTree – record x in node y is not recoverable.

then try

fsck_hfs -p /dev/diskxs2

followed by

fsck_hfs -drfy /dev/diskxs2

And see if that works. It did for me today.


You can express your thanks to garth via a small donation using a paypal button his page at Garth’s website.

Windows Explorer – add Open a Command Line Here to your right click menu has details of how to do this 5 different ways.
Unfortunately there’s a small error in the one about editing the registry, although it might be the simplest:

  1. Copy and paste these lines into a CommandLineHere.reg file on your desktop. Do include a carriage return at the end.
  2. Double-Click it.
  3. Say yes.
  4. Now right-click on a Folder and voila.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Folder\shell\Command Line]
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Folder\shell\Command Line\command]
@="cmd.exe /k pushd %1"

Oops, I broke Windows explorer

In the course of trying out ways of adding a command line to the windows explorer right click menu, I broke it. Every time I opened a new window, I got windows search instead.

This handy post was my lifeline. You do have to be handy with windows registry though.

iPad printing problems

iPad printing is unreasonably difficult. It all works fine no doubt if you go out and buy a shiny new AirPrint enabled printer. Otherwise the simplest/cheapest thing I’ve found is:

I’ve had network problems too, similar to the problems with iTunes. Replacing my router was the best solution I had for that. If your router is old, or a very cheap broadband freebie, you may need to replace it.

Losing Internet Connection When You Plug In An Ethernet Cable?

How to keep your wireless internet connection working when you also have a wired connection

You know the scenario. There you are with a wireless internet connection, you want to configure a router, you plug it into your ethernet port because you still want to keep your internet connection alive and ping! your internet connection has gone.


Open your network control panel to the settings for your wired ethernet connection. Change the IP configuration from DHCP to Manual. Remove any router or gateway settings. Apply.
You should now find that your computer routes to the internet successfully over your wireless connection instead of failing by trying to reach the internet over your wired connection.