Restoring Time Machine Backups on a Different Computer even Over SMB or AFP
There are many situations that require you to restore backups to different computers, other than the one from where the data was originally backed up from. In the case of Apple’s Time Machine the restore procedure to different machines is not very intuitive. You have to use the “secret” option key…
There is a supported way to restore Time Machine backups of other computers using the “option-key” click on the Time Machine menu. If you want to use it just do the following:
- Connect the Time Machine disk to the Mac you want to restore the files to
- Set the “Show time machine status in the menu bar” In System Preferences -> Time Machine.
- Click the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and keeping the mouse button pressed, press the “Option” key.
- Select “Browse Other Time Machine Disks”
- Select the disk you want
- click Use Selected Disk
The Time Machine will open with the selected disk and you can use it to restore the files.
If, like me, you are using a non supported Time Machine configuration, where the backup disk is mounted using SMB or AFP (see this post on how to enable that) then the procedure above will not work directly. In my case I backup to my Buffalo TeraStation NAS, and the “Browse Other Time Machine Disks” window shows up empty, with no disk to select.
In order for this to work you need to first mount the Time Machine disk by hand in using the command line.
- Mount the shared folder where your Time Machine backups are stored
- Open a Terminal window and cd to the Time Machine volume. in my case I called it backups
sudo cd /Volumes/backups
- use hdiutil to mount the specific Time Machine .sparsebundle file
sudo hdiutil attach <time_machine_file.sparsebundle>
Now you should be able to see the mounted volume in Finder, with all the backups listed as folders, and you can copy any files directly from it. Remember that mounting the disk may take some time due to the size of the disk and network connection speed, especially If you do this over a WiFi network.
Another option is to repeat the supported Time Machine procedure outlined in the beginning of this post. You should now see the mounted disk as a Time Machine disk. Select the the disk and click “Use Selected Disk” and Time Machine will open on the selected disk just like with a Time Machine supported back up disk.
Personally I like to copy them directly from the Finder but your preference may vary so I document both ways of achieving this goal. Hope this helps.