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Justin, Network Admin
Category: Mac
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Experience:  10+ years IT experience (Corporate Network Administration),
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after updating to Mavericks, my time machine backup is stuck

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after updating to Mavericks, my time machine backup is stuck on "preparing backup"
Greetings and welcome to Justanswer.

This is a very common issue with Maverick, and especially with external USB drives (western digital for example). It would help to know what medium you're backing up to and the model #.

Regardless, the first thing I'd do is (assuming you're backing up a separate external hard drive) is repair the disk permissions on that drive.

Navigate to Utilities and locate Disk utility. Run it, select the external hard drive, choose repair disk permissions. Let it complete, restart, and then try the backup once more. Let me know the results.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am performing my backup via my time Apple Time Capsule router.

When I open the Disk utility, "repair disk permissions" is greyed out.

Apple released a firmware update for their time capsule router's that was to address the backup issues with Maverick if I recall.

I would start there, here is the break down on firmware updates for them:

Afterwards, it should initiate a restart, and you may want to do the same on the macbook. As I said, it's been a nightmare of issues for backup rotations since the release of Maverick, many different issue we'll have to try to narrow it down through trial and error.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
My time capsule is up-to-date, running version 7.6.4
Alright your next step whether it's an attached drive to the router, or an internal drive, is to wipe the drive and setup time machine from scratch.

I've heard of the preparing backups though taking hours (like 10+ hours) to actually begin after a reindex, but I'll assume you've given it the appropriate amount of time and just continue from there.

So format/wipe the backup drive, and then setup time machine from scratch. These steps should still be accurate in Mav.

Let me know the results.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
You're probably right that that's what I will need to do, just a bit scary. Though the computer is fine at this moment and needing a backup right now is unlikely.

And, yes, I have let it run for 24+ hours!
Yeah it's unfortunate there have been so many issues since the update for people.

It may actually be beneficial before doing this (if you're nervous about it) to do a backup in a secondary location first just in case something goes wrong.

You would need a different medium to back up to temporarily but it would at least buy you peace of mind while you sort things out.

The above program is free, and will clone the entire drive, which will protect from system failure as well as data.

If you just perhaps purchased a direct USB drive for this procedure, fixed time machine, then you could wipe the USB drive and return it. Like I said, kind of a pain, but at least there's no risk at that point. Entirely up to you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks. I reset the backup disk in the time capsule preferences. It seems to be doing what it's supposed to do. But it is in the "preparing backup" phase again, and it really could take several hours to accomplish. so - I'm going to let it run and we can reconnect later if it is still stuck.


Sounds good, sorry for the delay, didn't see the response.

If i'm not here, I'll respond the very moment I can, but yeah let me know the results after ~ 24 hours or what not.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I was out of town the last two days so was unable to tell if the fix was working. My time capsule seems to be backing up, though after 2 days it is at 5.69GB of 12.4GB. Seems like it's taking an inordinately long time, but at least it's not stuck on "preparing backup".


Does this seem right to you?

Doesn't surprise me, if that's what you're asking. Maverick broke many time machine setups, and since it's does a sort of indexing (and you're backing up over the network) If it's completing it's working.

Have you actually paid attention to how long it takes to backup?

You mentioned you were out of town, it's possible the first initial backup was painfully slow and the second was fast.

The first would have had to reindex everything so I expected a long backup. The following backups should be more on par with the "norm"

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

My normal backups most recently have just been iterative backups, so they are pretty fast. This one is painfully slow. It hasn't moved at all since my last contact with you.

But I mean since you wiped the drive and did a fresh one (a few days ago) did it complete a backup after?

Are you doing it over wireless? Signal strength?

Any antivirus software running?


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It started to do a new backup, got to 3GB and then just stopped. I left the laptop running for 3 days. When I restarted, it started all over again.

I wonder if there is something else going on, I see that the spotlight is now indexing my computer, and has been doing so for several days. I know that I have a lot of files, but it shouldn't take that long to complete, should it?

I am running Norton antivirus, over wifi and with full signal strength.

No, indexing should not take that long, but it increases in time if you're using the computer at the same time.

Also, you're going to need to remove/uninstall Norton to truly do any real testing. Antiviruses can cause a lot of different issues (firewall, locking files, etc). You can reinstall it after we determine it's not a cause.

So what I'd do is this. Remove norton

Perform a reindex

Then attempt backup again.

The index should really take no more than 12 hours regardless of how much data you have.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK. I removed Norton, then am performing a reindex as noted above. This will take some time so will likely be tomorrow before I can try anything else.

Sorry this is taking so long.

No need to apologize, should be Apple that should be apologizing ;).
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

yahoo! I now have a backup from today. I guess the final test is to reinstall my Norton and see if it still works.

Good to hear. Doesn't surprise me that Norton was acting up. Let me know the results after reinstall
Justin and 3 other Mac Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I re-installed Norton, and ran another backup after that - which worked!


So - I think I'm good to go.


Thanks for all of your help.