Time Machine Backup Failed? 5 Easy Ways To Fix Time Machine Problem (2023)

Time Machine is an important backup utility offered by Apple. Using it, Mac users can take a timely backup of their important files on a PC or a preferred location like an external drive.  But sometimes it fails to function and shows error messages like Time Machine not backing up data or getting stuck at preparing backup.

This complicates things. So, if you too are facing this problem in this article, we will talk about ways to resolve it.

Before we move ahead with a detailed explanation, here are some quick troubleshooting fixes.

Quick Ways to Fix Time Machine Backup Failed

  1. Mac software should be updated.
  2. Whenever you face Time Machine restore or backup failed error try restarting Mac.
  3. If you use Airport Time Capsule update firmware.
  4. Mac should be connected to the same network as the backup drive.
  5. The connected drive should be switched on.
  6. When taking backup in third party external drive, make sure the firmware is up to date.
  7. The external drive should have enough space to store the backup.
  8. Before backing up data using Time Machine, you should clean all junk and redundant data. For this, you can try using Cleanup My System. It is the best Mac optimization and cleaning utility that cleans all unwanted data in no time.

Now, let’s learn how to fix Time Machine Backup Fails Repeatedly.

How to Fix a Time Machine Backup Failed?

Unfortunately, several Mac users, after updating their Mac, face Time Machine backup failed error. If you are one of those unlucky users, here are some troubleshooting tips to fix the problem.

1. Check External hard drive’s file system.

If your external drive doesn’t have enough storage space or is formatted wrongly, you might face Time Backup error. Therefore, you need to make sure the external drive you are using has a native macOS format. The FAT or NTFS file system doesn’t work with Time Machine.

Besides, if the external hard drive is in APFS macOS format then also it won’t work with Time Machine backup.

To check the format of the drive you are using, follow the steps explained below:

1. Attach the external drive to your Mac.

2. Now, launch Finder.

3. Here, look for drive> select it > right-click Get Info.


backup failed time machine


4. This will show drives format under General information.

If the external drive you are using is having one of the incompatible formats, you’ll need to reformat it to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) with a GUID Partition Table (GPT).

To do so, you can use Disk Utility. Follow the steps to format the external drive:

1. Attach the external drive to Mac.

2. Open Finder > Go > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility


backup failed time machine


3. Open Disk Utility and choose the attached drive (external) from the left pane.


time machine backup failed


4. Click Erase present at the top of the Disk Utility window. As shown in the screenshot below:


time machine backup failed


5. In the new pop-up window that opens rename the drive if you want and alters and drive format to the supported one (Mac OS Extended (Journaled) > Erase.


time machine restore failed


This will change the format of your external drive and will make it compatible with Time Machine. Now you can take backup using Time Machine.

2. Check free disk space on external drive

If you still face any problem check for the available space on external drive. There should be enough room to back up the Time Machine. If that’s not the case get rid of unwanted files stored on it and free up space for Time Machine backup. Alternatively, you can use a new external hard drive or one with enough available space.

tipsAdditional Tip

To ensure successful data backup (free from useless junk files & so) using Time Machine, we suggest our users first use a dedicated cleaning utility like Cleanup My System.

It’s a top-notch optimization utility that helps users to clean junk files, unwanted caches, cookies, old & large files, alongside other unwanted data stored on your Mac. This amazing Mac optimizer and cleaning tool help perform various other tasks like managing startup items, uninstalling old/needles Mac software, removing privacy-exposing traces, and so on.


How to fix Time Machine backup fails frequently?

When you backup temporary files, Time Machine backup fails repeatedly. Therefore, to fix this issue, you need to clean up these files.

To do this, follow the steps below:

1. Turn off the Time Machine. To do so click Apple logo > System Preferences > and look for the Time Machine tab.


time machine backup fails repeatedly


2. Here, uncheck the Back Up Automatically option.


time machine backup fails repeatedly


Next, clean Time Machine’s working files. To do so, follow the steps below:

1. Open Finder > select external hard disk.

2. Now look for folder names Backups.backupdb


time machine backup fails repeatedly


3. Please open it and delete the file with .inProgress suffix. For this right-click and select Move to Trash/Bin.

4. Empty the Trash and reboot Mac.

Now, enable Time Machine and try taking backing up data. You should not face any problem.

Check for junk files, and other unwanted data as it might be causing problems.

Sometimes junk files, system cache, temp files, prevent an application from running properly. In such cases knowing the exact reason for the problem is impossible. Therefore, to deal with such issues, I would recommend using Cleanup My System.

This excellent Mac optimizer and cleaner works brilliantly to locate and clean junk files, app leftovers, temp files, and other unwanted data that hampers overall performance.

To use Cleanup My System and get rid of system caches, log files, unwanted mail attachments, manage launch agents, and more, follow the steps below:

1. Download Cleanup My System. 

2. Install and click the Start Scan button under the One-Click Care module.

One click care

3. Let the scanning process get finished. Cleanup My System will now list down all junk files and other unwanted data in no time.


4. Select the files you wish to get rid of and hit the Clean Now button to delete detected junk files and other residues that are creating the problem. Not only this, but Cleanup My System will also help in reclaiming storage space and enhance overall speed and performance.

Now try to use Time Machine and back up important files, so you should not face any problem.

So, that’s all! Now, you must be aware of the different reasons that can lead to Time Machine backup failure error messages. The most important thing that you need to do whenever you face a problem is to check the format of the external drive. If it is incompatible, nothing will work!

Therefore, make sure you use supported formats. In addition to this, if you keep your Mac optimized, you can not only solve the Time Machine problem but other issues as well. For this, you can try using Cleanup My System, a must-have utility that performs various cleaning and optimization tasks in a few clicks! Follow us on social media – Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.

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