OS X Sierra 10.12.1 – Time machine Problems


Overnight Apple released an upgrade for macOS Sierra,  but it doesn’t seem to have addressed the Time Machine backup issue.  If you have not yet upgraded to macOS Sierra I would hold off a little longer.

I rang Apple support last week to let them know that since the macOS Sierra upgrade I could not use Time Machine.  They said that there were no known issues with Sierra and Time Machine.  Their suggestion was that it was probably my USB drive.   We ran Disk Utility first-aid, and it threw up some errors.  Their suggestion was to erase my Time Machine backup and start over again.

I have two years worth of files on my Time Machine backup so I was hesitant to do this.  I also thought that it seemed too much of a coincidence that the very morning I upgraded to macOS Sierra  was the morning that my USB drive started having errors.

After I got off the phone I connected my Time Machine backup to my MacBook air which is still running El Capitan and ran Disk Utility – no errors! I plugged it back into my Sierra Machine – it still doesn’t work. So Sierra is definitely having problems.

We will have to wait for Apple to acknowledge and address the problem.  In the meantime, the best fix that I can see is to put your old Time Machine backup aside to keep it safe,  and start a new backup on a new external hard drive.   When you do that you will be prompted as to whether you want to keep backing up to your existing hard drive.  Select yes,  so that you now have two Time Machine backups,  so that when Apple release a fix you will be able to plug in your old Time Machine backup and keep using it.

It appears that Apple have made some changes to Time Machine backup with macOS Sierra.


Here are some other place on the Internet where you can read about the problem with macOS Sierra and Time Machine:

Problems with macOS and Time Machine backups?
by inunRAID

And here:


And here:






15 responses to “OS X Sierra 10.12.1 – Time machine Problems”

  1. Thomas

    The problem is caused by Sophos AV. If you disable “active scanning” in Sophos preferences before running the backup it will complete. I contacted Sophos and they are aware of the problem. They are working on a new release which will resolve the Time Machine hanging on “preparing backup”/

    1. Why would anyone use an antivirus software on a mac? It un-necessary. Just slows things down.

  2. AnnMarie Tornabene-Boivin

    Since upgrading to Sierra, my external drive shows up twice on my desktop – one as the normal icon and the other, as the Time Marchine backed up one. When I eject both icons, I get a message to with a Force Eject option for the Time Machine’d icon. I have disabled back ups for now until Sierra has an upgrade.

  3. Kelly Albertine

    I found its actually backing up, just shows an error message (coincidentally the day Sierra was installed) saying you haven’t backed up in “some many days”. I go to Time Capsule and all my daily files and new desk top test files are there.

    What gives ?

    1. Kelly Albertine

      Actually its a bug with Back to My Mac setting in Airport Utility. Remove that and I was backing up again like normal.

      1. Jo Ann

        What am I removing with Back to My mac? Thank you!

  4. Terrell

    I was able to resolve this by turning off my firewall (Using McAfee) or adding the time capsule to your firewall permissions. It worked immediately for me.

    Good luck.

  5. Terrell

    A little more clarification. When I mentioned the firewall I mean the firewall protection that comes with my virus software, not the firewall that’s built into the mac software.

  6. Yves

    This was driving me nuts. Turned of Sophos. Erased and reformatted drive on the TimeCapsule, every time the backup would stop after completing <1%. Finally turned off the back to my mac setting on the TimeCapsule, and it works. Had all sorts of issues with that same setting and the Time Capsule not appearing in Airport Utility prior, but this has now got my backups going again.

    1. There was definitely an issue with Sophos, but there is also another issue. I don’t have any anti virus software and time machine broke for me with Sierra. Because of the huge issue with Sophos, I think the other issues have been overlooked – that is that even without Sophos some people are having problems. The only solution I have found was to completely start my time machine over again, meaning I lost all my previous backups.

  7. Javier Quintanilla

    I was told by apple techs to disable all of screen saver utilizes, because my usb drive ( which I used 2 new ones) was coming up with an error stating it could not open backup folder after 1 backup, I tried for hours trying to make it work and now it works with screen savers off, but I need to turn down brightness so not to burn screen, I don’t think paying the prize for a MAC and keeping screen on is something I should have to deal with, so I hope APPLE comes up with fix fast..

  8. robert

    I recently upgraded to Sierra. What a mistake that was. It seems that now my computer has lost all my data from the last 2 years and time machine no longer has a backup. My emails are gone also and all my bookmarks, favourites but most importantly all my photographic files. Extremely pissed off and I can’t find anything online that suggests what I might be able to do. Mac has gone south, releasing this crap when it doesn’t work properly.

    1. Even though Sierra won’t read your time machine backup, the backed up files are still on there. I was on the phone to Apple support and they told me that my time machine backup was corrupt and the only way to fix it was to reformat the hard drive. If I had done what they said it would have deleted all my backups! I plugged my time machine backup into an older laptop that had not yet been upgraded to Sierra and the files were all still there. So I am waiting for Apple to fix this issue, holding on to my old backup, but apple have not even acknowledged that there is an issue yet! If I was you I would start a completely new backup on a hard drive with Sierra, but hold on to your old one because it does still probably have all the photos and emails etc.

  9. caroline

    I have moved house in November and only just got round to setting up my IMAC and Time machine (I have just been using my macbook pro). The IMAC turns off when the Time Machine is connected but will stay on if it is not connected.

    Any ideas would be great!

  10. Farmer Tom

    I have the same problem, which started with the “upgrade” to Sierra. Overall, I’m unhappy with the upgrade, but that’s another story. The back ups appear to actually be happening on my remote hard drive, but I get the notification that the hard drive was not properly ejected. It worked perfectly for a couple of years prior to the Sierra upgrade. I just used the Airport utility to download a new firmware update to my Airport router. Not sure if that has fixed it or not, but worth a try.

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