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Thunderbay 4 RAID stuck on "Preparing 'Time Machine'"

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(@stevek)
Active Member Customer

This morning I woke up to a corrupted Time Machine running Softraid 5, 4 3TB disks. Diskwarrior crashed evert time I tried to rebuild the volume so I  just erased the volume and started fresh. Now when I go to select the volume called Time Machine as my Time Machine back-up destination, the progress bar gets stuck at around 50% saying "Preparing 'Time Machine'." I've let it go for an hour.

So I have 25 years of graphic design work on my drives and now I have no backup. 

Have you seen this before? Any ideas? 

I'm running 11.2 Beta (20D5029f) and SoftRaid beta 6.0.1 b47 beta. 

I really need my Time Machine back.

Has anyone seen this before? Any ideas? 

Thanks in advance,

Steve

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Topic starter Posted : 29/12/2020 4:04 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

Time Machine can get stuck, there used to be a great Time Machine resource site, but it is down forever.

Try deleting the backup from Time Machine and adding it again. It should reset. Let us know if it keeps stalling.

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Posted : 29/12/2020 4:09 pm
(@stevek)
Active Member Customer

@softraid-support

Thanks for the quick reply, you guys are so great.

I literally re-formatted my 4-disk Softraid Tine Machine volume, HFS+. It's blank. I just can't get Big Sur to get past "preparing" it now. I even deleted the volume using Softraid and then joined the 4 drives again to form a new Time Machine Volume. It reports no errors. So I'm at a loss. I'm just so nervous to work without a backup.

 

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Topic starter Posted : 29/12/2020 4:57 pm
(@stevek)
Active Member Customer

Update: The Time Machine preference panel is showing up blank now. I reinstalled the latest version of Big Sur. 

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Topic starter Posted : 29/12/2020 4:58 pm
(@stevek)
Active Member Customer

This might have been my fault for updating to the newest beta of Bug Sur. All I know is, whenever I try to choose a SofitRaid RAID 5 volume I created as my Time Machine volume, it gets stuck here. I let it go for hours and there is no progress.

Screen Shot 2020 12 29 at 7.39.58 PM

 

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Topic starter Posted : 29/12/2020 7:46 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

Did you create the volume as APFS? if this is a startup volume, it needs to be APFS or Time Machine may just sit there.

 

You cannot convert a SoftRAID volume to APFS, so you need to delete it, then create a new volume, under file system, select APFS. Give that a try.

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Posted : 29/12/2020 11:03 pm
(@stevek)
Active Member Customer

I have a late 2015 iMac with an APFS SSD internal. I have two more external SSDs connected and they are APFS. All the drives in my two Thunderbay 4 units (one for work and media, the other solely for Time Machine) are HFS+. I erased the HFS+ Time Machine volume in SoftRaid b48 (it's a RAID 5) and hit erase, once again, as HFS+ journaled.

I can select it as my backup drive but it just still gets stuck at "Preparing..."

I thought it was recommended that Time Machine volumes using SoftRaid 5 and physical hard disks should stick with HFS+?

I don't get it. 

Screen Shot 2020 12 30 at 11.43.42 AM

 

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Topic starter Posted : 30/12/2020 12:03 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

APFS is much slower on HDD's, but for your startup system, I think you need APFS.

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Posted : 30/12/2020 2:11 pm
(@stevek)
Active Member Customer

@softraid-support

My startup internal SSD is APFS. All 3 of my SSDs are APFS. I just want to know why my Time machine volume died on me and now I can't use it.

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Topic starter Posted : 30/12/2020 2:16 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

Did you try removing the volume from Time machine then re-adding it?

I am not a Time Machine expert by any means. I did set up a volume to see how it works and am amazed how frequently it just stops working, or starts taking forever to backup.

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Posted : 30/12/2020 9:42 pm
(@stevek)
Active Member Customer

I've tried everything. I've spent 20 hours researching and trying to get a new Time Machine volume to be recognized by my system. It's been working for years. The only thing I can think of is I signed up for public betas of Big Sur and after the last update might have been when my Time Machine became unusable.

 

And to be clear, when I say it gets stuck at "preparing" I don't mean preparing a new backup. The "preparing" issue is when I try to select a SoftRaid RAID 5 volume as my Time Machine volume. 

I just need to know if My Time Machine SoftRaid RAID 5 volume should be formatted as HFS or APFS under Big Sur. All of my SSDs are APFS but my 2 Thunderbay 4 running Softraid with RAID 5 have always been HFS+ and they've worked perfectly as regular media and work volumes as well as Time Machine volumes for at least 6 years now.

 

I've always thought Softraid RAID 5 HDDs should stick with HFS. Has this changed with Big Sur?

It is terrifying to have no backup of my work. I have an external SSD with a CCC mirror of my startup volume but that's it. I'm going to wipe my internal SSD startup and use internet recovery, hopefully, to install an older version of macOS and then upgrade to Big Sur non-beta. BTW, CMD R doesn't give me the regular recovery mode from the recovery partition, it goes right to internet recovery. Another headache. 

Its New Year's Day and everyone deserves a day off so I totally understand if I don't hear back from you until tomorrow.

 

Thanks!

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Topic starter Posted : 01/01/2021 4:38 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

I am often available.

APFS still has the issue where hard drives become pretty slow. But if Time Machine only works on APFS, then give it a try. Yes it will be slower than normal, but you never really access Time Machine, hopefully never have to use the volume.

I did test Time Machine on both an intel and M1 with a 5TB system, it worked, although took its time backing up.

I can try it again in the future when I am doing more tests. I do not have constant access to the office as California decided to lock down again, but this year should have more time for testing available for stuff like this.

 

BTW: another alternative is set up carbon copy cloner with a schedule. It is fast, works well, can validate files and save older versions. Its a pretty good alternative.

This post was modified 9 months ago by SoftRAID Support
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Posted : 01/01/2021 8:58 pm
(@stevek)
Active Member Customer

Thanks for responding on what should have been your day off!

After dozens of hours of experimenting and wiping volumes and reverting to earlier macos then upgrading etc, looks like I have it working now. I simply re-initialized all 4 4TB drives with b48 of SoftRaid and created a new Time Machine volume called Backup. Then Time Machine in System Preferences recognized it immediately. I have so far backed up my startup drive (although it doesn't back up the system but that's fine) and my 1.6TB of design work on my Work drive. Now I'm backing up little by little of my Media drive which is 6TB of movies and music. 

So far so good. And actually, the speed difference from before is negligible, at least on my system.

So my only other question is: Do I stick with official releases of Big Sur and not mess with the betas? I turned off public betas to be safe.

Thanks again for all of your hard work.  

 

PS: I use CCC to mirror my startup SSD every other day on a schedule. Been using it for more than a decade. Love it. But for my Work volume especially, I need Time Machine because I need versioning. I might realize I need a design I deleted a month ago and Time Machine will have it. CCC won't.

 

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Topic starter Posted : 02/01/2021 5:54 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

If this is a Time Machine, active System, then avoid the beta's. They are likely to mess with Time Machine, IMO.

 

good luck, glad you are working!

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Posted : 02/01/2021 9:48 pm
 SLeM
(@slem)
Eminent Member

I am having this same problem. My ThunderBay4 and SoftRaid are brand new (installed in the last 12 hours). I have them attached to a MacBook Air newly upgraded to Big Sur 11.1.

Earlier I was about to set up a non-RAID HFS+ volume, configured it for Sharing, enabled Remote Time Machine (Sharing options), and back up to it over ethernet from a different system. That worked fine.

However when I set up a Raid0 or non-raid HFS+ volume and try to select for Time Machine on the Air itself, then it gets stuck half way exactly like SteveK showed.

I set up a non-raid APFS volume and do seem to be able to use it for Time Machine directly on the Air itself.

I am having difficulty setting up RAID APFS volumes, but I will test that again, and if necessary report in a different thread.

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Posted : 03/01/2021 5:15 am
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