Time Machine doesn’t like apostrophes - Macenstein

Time Machine doesn’t like apostrophes

Faithful Macenstein reader Jon Rosen writes us with a bizarre Time Machine issue he was experiencing.

“I’ve been having a bizarre problem with Time Machine. It makes 2 backups in a row every time it does a backup. The second backup is a much smaller one.
It took me about 90 minutes to get to the proper person at Apple Tech Support. Apparently, it’s a known issue.
It has to do with there being an apostrophe in my computer’s name under Sharing.
Apparently, apostrophes, hyphens and other random punctuation cause the problem.
They had me change the computer name and then said I had to erase my Time Machine drive because Time Machine doesn’t do backups properly when you change the computer’s name (!!!). Who knew?
So, my safety net is temporarily gone. My next backup is scheduled for 30 minutes from now. They told me that this issue would hopefully be fixed in 10.5.1.
So, that’s my story.

BTW. I figured there was a problem when I saw that my Mac was spending about 20 minutes every hour doing backups. I checked the system log in the console and there were the duplicate backups detailed in B&W. That’s a good way to check if you think you may be having this problem.”

[UPDATE:] Jon writes back “The problem with double backups did not go away. Today Apple told me to *also* redo my Spotlight index. It seems to be working, not enough time to tell, but my last backup took 3 minutes instead of 20 minutes, so I’m cautiously optimistic.

Thanks Jon. Odds are you aren’t alone given the fact that OS X by default likes to name your system for you with apostrophes (Jon’s was called “Jon Rosen’s iMac”, for examlpe).

You’d think Apple might have caught this one earlier.

5 Responses to “Time Machine doesn’t like apostrophes”
  1. slyskyspy says:

    Well the missing sync for mac has the same problem, except it tells you when you install the software 😉 It doesn’t like apostrophes so I always changed my name on my powerbook.

  2. Rogier says:

    My Time Machine was making 130 – 150 Gig back-ups!
    Turns out as soon as one changes something in iPhoto or iTunes. Time machine backs up the entire folder. Clearly this doesn’t work. In no time I ran out of disk space. Beside the computer was slowing down due to the massive amounts of data being transfered in my Mac Pro from one 500 GB drive to the dedicated 500 GB Time Machine drive….
    I took the iPhoto and iTunes folder out and things are running better.
    However this is clearly not the solution. After all my pictures are most important to me. Leaving them out of the back-up schedule defeats the purpose 🙁

    Hope Apple fixes this

  3. Markus says:

    Hi there,
    i had the same issue in with my hostname (includes – ). BUT now I changed the hostname, deleted time-machine volume, recreated backup and it’s the same again:

    Nov 10 11:26:08 macbookpro /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[4333]: Backing up to: /Volumes/TimeMachine/Backups.backupdb
    Nov 10 11:26:10 macbookpro /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[4333]: No pre-backup thinning needed: 432.1 MB requested (including padding), 224.29 GB available
    Nov 10 11:26:27 macbookpro /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[4333]: Copied 6591 files (16.1 MB) from volume Macintosh HD.
    Nov 10 11:26:27 macbookpro /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[4333]: No pre-backup thinning needed: 410.3 MB requested (including padding), 224.27 GB available
    Nov 10 11:26:33 macbookpro /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[4333]: Copied 1441 files (2 KB) from volume Macintosh HD.
    Nov 10 11:26:35 macbookpro /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[4333]: Starting post-backup thinning
    Nov 10 11:26:35 macbookpro /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[4333]: No post-back up thinning needed: no expired backups exist
    Nov 10 11:26:36 macbookpro /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[4333]: Backup completed successfully.

  4. Jonro says:


    The problem persisted, but then Apple told me to also drop and reindex my spotlight index. It seems to be working, not enough time to tell, but my last backup took 3 minutes instead of 20 minutes, so I’m cautiously optimistic.


  5. Chaos says:


    This at least should not happen. Are you sure there are two distinct copys of your iPhoto folder on your backup disk?

    TimeMachine uses hardlinks to represent the backups, so the two full folders of images you see might be mosty references to the same data. Just do a ls -l command in the terminal. the number right behind the file permissions is the number of references a file has. Your (unmodified) pictures should at least have a 2 there.

    It’s true that the FSEvent, which tells TimeMachine which data has changed, only works on folders, not on files. But TimeMachine SHOULD then check which files really got changed and backup only those, filling up the rest of the folder with hardlinks to old data.

    You can also verify this by comparing the size of both folders to the size of both of them together.


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