Synology 101: Configure backup for Apple Time Machine (2023)

  • Synology 101: Configure backup for Apple Time Machine (1)

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    The sole author of this page is a systems engineer who has been working in the field of banking IT (IT operations) for a long time. Passionate about Mac, NAS/SAN, virtualization and Docker environments.

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Synology 101: Configure backup for Apple Time Machine (3)

In this article, I want to talk a little about backup, that is, backing up your desktop. More specifically macOS. Well, if you're a Mac user, you've probably heard of Time Machine, right?

(Video) Back to the Mac 009: Synology NAS Time Machine backups! [9to5Mac]

TM is a backup application built into macOS that allows you to back up your Mac computer. Some time ago, Apple also had several devices that could support it (Time Capsule), but in recent years it decided to stop the development, as there are not many providers that support the TM protocol, so the implementation does not work so well.

Synology has supported TM for nearly a decade (and beyond), and it makes sense that you'd want to put your Mac data on a device that a) has a lot more storage than your computer and b) performs some redundancy. away from the device you originally wanted to back up.

Using external drives and NAS drives as backup devices is no secret, in fact it's so common today that all vendors support it. Let's see how you can achieve this with Synology NAS, what are the limitations and how it works.

Why only macOS? What about Windows backup?

The reason why this topic focuses solely on macOS is that the majority of Windows backup software is third-party and 99% of them work with pure SMB protocol communication with your NAS when it comes to transferring it backup. Also, there are no special items that need to be configured on the NAS side (other than account and shared folder), unlike TM backup, which requires more steps and has its own section for making these changes.

Setting up the Time Machine NAS for the first time

All Synology NAS models can be targeted by Time Machine, but TM backup is not set by default. To do this, you need to do a few things in advance before trying to configure your NAS as a TM backup destination.

There are 3 things that usually need to be prepared:

  1. time Machineobjective(a local NAS folder)
  2. Good Morningdiscovery service
  3. time MachineAccount(your DSM account to connect)

Time Machine destination folder

Before doing anything else, you need to set up a local shared folder on your NAS for your Mac device backup.

A NOTICE: Remember that thismust be a shared root folder, not a subfolder of an existing root folder.

In the current version of DSM 6/7, you have the option to separate each Mac device and its backup into its own root folder if you wish. Previously, this wasn't an option, so you had to put all your multiple Mac backups in a single folder.

You see, I still use it that way, and there's nothing wrong with that, and the reason is simple. Each Mac device has its own TM Backup user account and each backup is independentsparse pack imagein the same root folder. The point is, there's no real reason to keep them separate, unless of course you want and can use a single folder to store multiple backups.

Would it be safer to keep them separate? Clear. You can have multiple folders on multiple volumes (e.g. slower and faster), yes you can? So now you have more options, but it just says you can keep multiple backups in a single TM root folder.

The TM root folder is no different than other folders on your NAS, so there's nothing special about creating it.

(Video) How To: Configure Time Machine for Apple Mac OS to Backup to a Synology NAS - Featuring the DS416j

OpenSwitchboard>shared folder, cliqueTo createand start the wizard that will allow you to create a new folder. You don't have to worry about permissions, as we'll adjust them later when we create new accounts.

Synology 101: Configure backup for Apple Time Machine (4)

Now that we have the folder, let's make it an appropriate TM "destination" folder for your Mac device(s).

Hi Suchdienst

To make your Macs "see" the NAS root folder as a Time Machine destination, let's do it againSwitchboard>file services>Progressiveto locate themGood MorningSection (Registration Settings).

Synology 101: Configure backup for Apple Time Machine (5)

Recently, macOS switched to the SMB protocol and moved away from its AFP. For now, you can still choose which protocol you want to use for your TM tasks, so you can either select checkbox options (one for SMB and one for AFP) or specify just one (as in the image above). Once you've done that, go to the actual destination folder setting.

To do this, click on the bigSet Time Machine foldersbutton (note that the folders, not folders), and once you've done that, you should get a list of all shared folders on your NAS.

Synology 101: Configure backup for Apple Time Machine (6)

Select one or more root folders you want to use and click on themApply.

Time Machine User Accounts

As I wrote at the beginning, there are 3 things that need to be done for this to work. Now that we've set up the folder and protocol, all that's left is the account (or multiple accounts if you want/need more than one).

Like the root folder, creating a TM user account on your NAS is nothing special. This is a "User" class account that will have its own username and password, and the only thing special about it is the quota (more on that later).

so go thereSwitchboard>User name>Users (tab), tightenTo createand start creating a new DSM account. Well?

The important elements here are:

  1. user groups- Select this user as"From user"class account
  2. permissions- Deny access to all folders except the TM root folder
  3. Price- Make sure to set quota for this user (later)

Group fee and membership

The trick with DSM TM user accounts is that these accountsI have toto be "User name" class accounts, or they can see the entire volume and its size, and eventually it will fill the entire NAS. To get around this, we need to access them in the "User name" class group and set one on top of thatPrice.

(Video) Synology Time Machine Backup

Quota is configured on the User Quota tab. Just go to theAba Cotaand in the TM root folder quota column, type themaximum valueyou want that specific user to have in their folder.

You can also select the unit column andSwitch from GB to TBif you choose to do so.

My general rule is2 to 3 times more storage space than the current storage space occupied by macOS🇧🇷 This gives you a break and allows for multiple incremental (delta) backups over time.

When finished, click OK to save the changes for the current user. Repeat this process for any other accounts/folders you left behind.

Time Machine macOS Setup and Backup Process

The hardest part is already done. Now all you need to do is configure your macOS devices to connect to your NAS TM folders and start backing up.

on your macSystem Preferences > Time Machineyou can define your MT goal and get an overview of the process.

Synology 101: Configure backup for Apple Time Machine (7)

click on itselect diskButton to browse the TM folder on your NAS.

Synology 101: Configure backup for Apple Time Machine (8)

Chooseamaps,Log inareuser nameyclavewhen requested and ready!

Depending on the size of the backup, the chosen protocol, and whether your Mac device uses a wired or wireless connection, the backup will complete in minutes or days, so be patient.

By default, TM backups start every hour, but you can customize this with third-party tools to have them less frequently if you wish.

problems and troubleshooting

Like any other service or application, TM has its problems. always had. The main one is that, from time to time, macOS will let you know that your backup integrity is low and that you need to completely recreate your full backup from scratch.

(Video) How to Set Up Backup on a Mac using Time Machine [2022]

This may not seem like a big deal, but for some it is. The reason is that if you want to enter thehistorical versionof your backups as soon as you create a new one with no history. Personally I don't think this is a huge issue and the main reason is that the backups should be there when you need them and not something that is your "archive" location. That's why you have your NAS.

So, as a suggestion, make regular backups, but remember that it would be a good idea to make even more backups. What I mean by that is that Time Machine should not only backup your valuable data but also another application or other media in case your TM fails at some point.

As an example, I use the Acronis True Image platform to create an image-based backup of my Mac computer in addition to my Time Machine backups. To top it off, all the data I need to back up isn't even on my Mac, it's on my NAS and it has a 3-2-1 backup scenario.

The point is, you can never have too many backups, and TM can (and probably will) cause problems at some point, so it's best to have a "backup solution" in case it does.

Personally, I've never had any issues with TM, and I've had to recover data (and by data I mean specific files) about 3 times over the last 15 years. That's why I keep using it until today until something better comes along.


Backup, backup, backup. It's only a matter of time before you need it, so you better have it and make sure it's a working backup.

Synology has launched Active Backup for Business as a NAS platform for backing up desktops running Windows and, more recently, Linux-based operating systems.

macOS is in the works and it has been promised that DSM 7 will (at some point) bring macOS support to ABB. I'm looking forward to this as a potential TM replacement, but there is no public beta for this service at this time. If that changes, I'll make a post about it after some testing.

As always, feel free to comment on the topic and tell me about your experiences with TM/NAS.

Synology 101: Configure backup for Apple Time Machine (9)

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Can Apple Time Machine backup to NAS? ›

Network-attached storage (NAS) device that supports Time Machine over SMB. Many third-party NAS devices support Time Machine over SMB. For details, check the documentation for your NAS device.

How do I backup my Apple Time Machine to SMB? ›

On the Mac you want to use as a Time Machine backup destination, choose Apple menu > System Settings > General, then click Sharing . Turn on File Sharing. Click the information button , click Options, then make sure “Share files and folders using SMB” is checked. Click Done.

What is the best NAS for Mac Time Machine backup? ›

Best Overall NAS For Macs: WD 8TB My Cloud EX2 Ultra

This system is easy to set up with the included software and includes basic security features such as encryption. With support for RAID, you can also increase data redundancy to ensure your files remain safe.

Can I connect Synology NAS directly to Mac? ›

When you connect Synology NAS directly to Mac or Windows computer over ethernet, both NAS and the PC have to be on the same IP address to communicate with each other. Else, you'll not be able to access the NAS. You can change the IP address of your PC but not the IP address of NAS unless you have access to NAS.

What is the best NAS for Time Machine 2022? ›

Synology's popular DS220j 2-Bay NAS is perfect for Time Machine backups at 2022 low of $150.

Does Synology support APFS? ›

Synology RT2600AC - this is a router that supports Time Machine - it is now a RAID device but a simple router that allows attachment of a storage device, hard disk or SSD. It is not compatible with a storage device formatted to Apple's proprietary APFS.

How do I connect Apple Time Machine to network? ›

1 Open AirPort Utility, located in Start > All Programs > AirPort. 2 Select your Time Capsule and click Continue. If AirPort Utility isn't installed on your computer, you can download it from 3 Follow the onscreen instructions to set up your Time Capsule and your wireless network.

Does Apple make Time Machine anymore? ›

Then Apple stopped making new ones years ago and finally admitted it canceled the line earlier this year. If you're using a Time Capsule, it might be time to consider an alternative.

How do I format an external hard drive for Mac Time Machine? ›

1. Format external hard drive for macOS
  1. Launch Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility).
  2. Select the hard drive device and click Erase (erases everything, cannot be undone).
  3. Name your drive (e.g. Time Machine Backup), select the Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format, and click Erase.
Sep 21, 2022

What file server is used for Time Machine backup? ›

APFS or APFS Encrypted disks are the preferred format for a Time Machine backup disk.

Does Apple Time Machine require a dedicated drive? ›

Format external hard drive for macOS

Backing up a Mac with Time Machine requires an external hard drive formatted for macOS. Formatting the drive will erase everything on it and configure it for macOS. After formatting the drive, if prompted to back up with Time Machine, select Use as Backup Disk.

Will Time Machine backup everything on my Mac? ›

With Time Machine, you can back up files on your Mac that weren't part of the macOS installation, such as apps, music, photos, and documents. When Time Machine is turned on, it automatically backs up your Mac and performs hourly, daily, and weekly backups of your files.

What is the best format for a Mac backup drive? ›

APFS or APFS Encrypted disks are the preferred format for a Time Machine backup disk. If you select a new backup disk that's not already formatted as an APFS disk, you get the option to erase and reformat it.

How do I backup my Mac to an external hard drive without Time Machine 2022? ›

How do I backup my Mac without a Time Machine?
  1. Launch Disk Drill on your Mac.
  2. Select “Byte-to-byte Backup” from the left panel.
  3. Choose the drive or partition you want to back up.
  4. Click the “Create backup” button and select a target location where the data will be stored.
  5. Allow the process to complete.
Mar 25, 2022

How do I remotely Connect my Synology NAS to my Mac? ›

Access from Mac

Enter your Synology NAS IP address or domain name preceded by "https://" and followed with ":5006" (or whatever port number you specified when enabling the WebDAV service). Click Connect. Enter your DSM username and password respectively in the Name and Password fields. Click Connect.

How do I access my NAS storage on my Mac? ›

The Process for Successfully Connecting NAS to Mac OS X:
  1. In the OS X top navigation select 'go'
  2. Then 'connect to server'
  3. When the connect to server window opens, enter the system IP address and NAS share name and push 'connect'
  4. You'll then be prompted to enter a username and password to connect to the server.

How do I access Synology NAS from outside network on Mac? ›

To access your Synology NAS via WebDAV with Mac devices:
  1. In Finder, click Go > Connect to Server from the menu bar.
  2. Click Connect to continue.
  3. Enter your DSM user name and password in the Name and Password fields. Then click Connect.
  4. Now you should be able to see the shared folders on your Synology NAS in Finder.

How much RAM should you have in a NAS? ›

For basic use, 4GB or 8GB will suffice. If you have a business Synology NAS, we would recommend at least 16GB. If more people open and save their work on the NAS at the same time, this is very demanding for the RAM.

Is 4TB enough for home NAS? ›

To put it into perspective, if you are using NAS for personal storage, you can typically get away with 1 to 2 TB. If you are using NAS for business or something that requires a lot of media storage, you would most likely need about 4 TB or more.

What is the best home cloud storage for Mac? › is one of the most secure cloud storage solutions, and it's the reason it is our number one choice in the cloud storage space. pCloud is great for performance and media files, while Icedrive wins the cloud storage beauty contest. iCloud is Apple's own storage option.

Should I use APFS or Mac OS Journaled? ›

What format should I use for a Mac external hard drive? It depends on your needs. If you want your PC to be faster, and more optimized then go for the APFS format. If you are looking for features like reverse compatibility, Time Machine, etc go for the Mac Os Journaled.

Is APFS better than macOS journaled? ›

APFS is also more reliable, leading to less file corruption when compared to Mac OS Extended. This, alongside its speed and optimization improvements, makes APFS a great file system format. The biggest downside to using APFS is that Macs with older macOS versions (macOS 10.12.

Why did Apple switch to APFS? ›

It aims to fix core problems of HFS+ (also called Mac OS Extended), APFS's predecessor on these operating systems. APFS is optimized for solid-state drive storage and supports encryption, snapshots, and increased data integrity, among other capabilities.

Is the Apple Time Machine a router or modem? ›

The AirPort Time Capsule (originally named Time Capsule) is a wireless router which was sold by Apple Inc., featuring network-attached storage (NAS) and a residential gateway router, and is one of Apple's AirPort products.

Why won't my Mac recognize my Time Machine? ›

General troubleshooting. Make sure your backup disk is plugged in, turned on, and securely connected to your Mac. If your backup disk is on a network, make sure both the disk and your Mac are connected to the network. If the network is experiencing problems, your backup disk may not be available.

Can I use an external hard drive for Time Machine and other files? ›

Store Files on Your Time Machine Drive Without a Partition

Technically, there's no need to partition your hard drive if you want to use it for external storage as well as Time Machine backups. All you need to do is start copying files and folders onto the drive using Finder.

Does Apple Time Machine delete old backups? ›

Generally, Time Machine automatically deletes old backups. Once your storage device is running low on space, macOS deletes anything unnecessary, such as your oldest Time Machine backups.

What can I use instead of Apple Time Capsule? ›

The simplest, cheapest, and most reliable solution is simply connect a USB hard drive directly to your Mac and back up that way.

Is Apple's Time Machine free? ›

The Apple Store Time Machine is available for free.

How do I format an external hard drive for Mac and Mac? ›

How to Reformat on Mac:
  1. Open Disk Utility. The program icon looks like this:
  2. Select the external drive you want to format on the left hand side of the window.
  3. Click the Erase button.
  4. Select FAT32 or exFAT format from the drop down menu.
  5. Click Erase and follow the prompts.

How do I format my external hard drive to FAT32 on a Mac? ›

Format a USB Drive to FAT32 in MacOS with Disk Utility
  1. Insert the USB to be formatted to a Mac PC.
  2. Navigate to Applications > Utilities, and click it twice to open.
  3. Select the drive you want to format and click on Erase.
  4. Rename the USB drive (optional), and choose the MS-DOS(FAT) for format.

Why can't Mac edit external HDD? ›

Although the Mac operating system allows you to read the files on the external hard drive, you can't write files to it because the way NTFS writes data to the device is incompatible with how macOS does it.

How big should Time Machine drive be? ›

Generally you want a drive that is at least twice as large as the amount of data you are backing up. For instance, if your internal hard drive is 500GB and you are using 250GB of on the drive, the minimum size drive you'd want to backup to is a 500GB drive.

What are the disadvantages of Time Machine? ›

Disadvantages of Time Machine
  • No Cloud Storage. Time Machine's biggest drawback is that it doesn't store its backups to the cloud. ...
  • It's Not as Safe as Cloud Storage. Another consideration with local storage-only backup is that it's arguably not as safe as cloud storage. ...
  • It's Almost Too Simple. Apple Support.
Aug 24, 2022

How many Time Machine backups should I keep? ›

You should always have the most recent 24 hourly snapshots and the last rolling month's worth of daily snapshots. Time Machine retains weekly snapshots older than a month until it has to delete them.

How far back does Apple Time Machine backup? ›

Once Time Machine is set up, it will create and store one backup every hour for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month and one backup a week for all previous months until it runs out of space.

Should I use ExFAT or journaled for Mac? ›

I'm going to suggest you only use ExFat for transferring between computers – not as an active access use. Use HFS+ (macOS Journaled) if you're on Mac systems; use NTFS if you're on Window systems.

Is FAT32 or ExFAT better for Mac? ›

But FAT32 is distinctly out of date. Designed for an earlier time, it can't handle files larger than 4GB. Instead, pick ExFAT, its replacement (and still quite old), best used on drives of 32GB or larger capacity.

Is Mac OS Extended safer than ExFAT? ›

Because it's an older system, ExFAT is much more susceptible to fragmentation than Mac OS Extended or APFS, and strips metadata from files.

Is Time Machine the best way to backup a Mac? ›

A Time Machine backup makes it especially easy to transfer all your data, settings, and apps from one Mac to another. It's also really intuitive to use.

Can Apple Time Machine backup an external drive? ›

Time Machine can back up to an external USB drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac model) or AirPort Time Capsule. Connect the drive directly to your Mac, then use Disk Utility to erase it. Connect the drive to a USB port on your AirPort base station, then turn it on.

How do I connect to Synology NAS on Mac Finder? ›

Access your NAS from a Mac computer
  1. Launch Finder on your Mac computer.
  2. Click Go and select Connect to Server.
  3. When you see a confirmation message, click Connect.
  4. Enter your DSM username and password. ...
  5. Now you can see the Synology NAS listed under the Locations section of your Finder window.
May 10, 2021

How do I map a Synology drive on a Mac? ›

Step 3: Map your Synology Drive

To find your Synology NAS in the same local area network as your Mac computer, launch 'Finder'. And at the top bar, click 'Go' > 'Connect to Server...'. A new window will open titled 'Connect to Server'. In the server address bar, type "afp://<your Synology IP Address>".

How do I activate Synology on QuickConnect Mac? ›

To enable QuickConnect:

Go to Control Panel > External Access > QuickConnect. Check Enable QuickConnect. If you have not logged in to your Synology Account, a login window will pop up.

Does Synology NAS support Time Machine over SMB? ›

Select File Services in the Control Panel, then Advanced, then Enable Bonjour Time Machine broadcast via SMB. 5. Select Set Time Machine Folders, then check the folder where you'd like the Time Machine application to back up to on your Synology NAS.

How do I set up Apple Time Machine? ›

macOS Ventura or later: Choose Apple menu  > System Settings, click General in the sidebar, then click Time Machine on the right. Earlier versions of macOS: Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Time Machine.

How do I get my external hard drive to show up in Finder Mac? ›

In the Finder on your Mac, choose Finder > Settings. Click General, then select the items you want to see on the desktop. For example, if you select “Hard disks,” icons for your hard disks appear on your desktop. Click Sidebar, then select the items you want to see in the Finder sidebar.

How do I map my Synology drive outside the local network on a Mac? ›

To access your Synology NAS via WebDAV with Mac devices:
  1. In Finder, click Go > Connect to Server from the menu bar.
  2. Click Connect to continue.
  3. Enter your DSM user name and password in the Name and Password fields. Then click Connect.
  4. Now you should be able to see the shared folders on your Synology NAS in Finder.

How do I permanently map a drive on Mac? ›

Hit the Apple menu, then System Preferences > Users & Groups. From here, select Login Items and click + to add a new item. Find your network drive and click Add, then close the window.

Do Macs use smb? ›

You can share files using the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. On your Mac, choose Apple menu > System Settings, click General in the sidebar, then click Sharing on the right.

Can I connect my iMac to my Synology NAS via Ethernet cable directly? ›

So the question is: can you connect your iMac to Synology NAS via Ethernet cable directly without plugging it into the router? Yes, you can. If you enable the DHCP server on Synology NAS, your Mac will get an IP automatically, and you need to set a static IP in the range of your default NAS IP.


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