Time Machine is the backup utility that’s been built into MacOS since I started using OS X back in 2008. It’s really great and has a wonderful interface, although has some limitations and has never really played nicely with FreeNAS. The latest FreeNAS U2 point release I installed today might just fix that though…

From what I can tell reading the Apple forums, Time Machine has always worked beautifully with one of Apple’s AirPort Time Capsules, basically an Apple AirPort Extreme router and hard disk combined. I’ve been using an Apple AirPort Extreme router for sometime, but never a Time Capsule which always seemed like an over priced and under capacity backup solution.

My preference has been to try and use FreeNAS, and whilst it has worked to some degree for the last few years, I was never 100% convinced it was working well. It would work for a few weeks or even months, and then suddenly you’d notice it hasn’t run for some days. Then, a couple of times a year it would say the backup was corrupt and it needed to do a full backup, so you’d lose the history.

It’s designed to keep hourly backups for 24 hours and then daily backups for as long as the space allocated allowed, and then it would drop the oldest ones in order to backup the newest stuff. Whilst I used it to recover the odd file, I was never convinced I’d be able to recover from as catastrophic disk failure, although luckily never needed too.

Although I’d been using it across all of my Apple devices, it wasn’t my only backup solution and I was hoping at some point it would either become more reliable or be replaced by something better.

Part of the issue was the file sharing protocol it used, the Apple File Protocol (AFP) which has been depreciated for some time now. Apple is moving toward using the Samba protocol, which is much more widely used in the Windows world. I can’t profess to understand much about this, but the FreeNAS 11.2-U2 upgrade I’d been looking forward to included support for Time Machine over SMB, using the latest version of Samba.

I can’t really comment on whether it’s better or worse yet, but would go as far to say it appears to be working!

I’ll report back once I’ve successfully transferred all my machines over, and things have been running for a couple of weeks. I’ll try and document how I set everything up too.