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Sparsebundle problems with Apple’s Time Machine & Time Capsule? Here’s an easy fix!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Time Capsule offers automatic backup for your Mac. And it's a full-featured 802.11n wireless base station with simultaneous dual-band support.

Time Capsule offers automatic backup for your Mac. And it’s a full-featured 802.11n Wi-Fi base station with simultaneous dual-band support in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously. It delivers great performance and range. And it’s easy to set up from your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, or Mac.

If you’re like me, enjoying the benefits of Apple’s Time Capsule and Time Machine are among the best, of the many wonderful things Apple has done with computer programming.

However, like all things electronic, or computing, not everything always works 100% properly, 100% of the time.

And, while Apple’s OSX is as good, robust and simple an operating system as it is, it’s not without problems.

One of the problems that occurs is with TimeCapsule’s sparsebundles.

The sparsebundle is the name given to the disk image file that is the backup.

Instead of a single big file, a sparse bundle is a bundle (directory) containing a number of smaller files called bands, each in the order of 8 MB in size. This means even though to the end user the sparse bundle appears as a single file, it is composed of smaller files. When the content of the image changes, one or more band files is changed, created, or deleted. This allows backup software (such as Time Machine) to operate more efficiently. You may use a tool such as rsync to keep your disk image(s) consistent across various systems.

Sometimes, however, for some reason, the sparsebundle becomes corrupted, and when the Time Machine attempts to perform a backup, an error message displays that “The backup disk image “/Volumes/Time Capsule/XXXXXX 1.sparsebundle” is already in use.” In this case “XXXXXX” is the name of your Time Capsule.

Again, the problem is that the backup cannot and will not occur, because to the system, it appears as if the sparsebundle is being used, when in fact, it is not.

There have been several workarounds posited, which included varying levels of difficulty, including accessing root level user privileges by command line interfacing with terminal commands. For those unfamiliar with terminal commands, that approach can be frustrating.

As is the case with OSX, many solutions to issues that inevitably arise can be, and often are simple. The following solution meets that criteria.
How to resolve the following time capsule error message:
The backup disk image “/Volumes/Data/XXXX’s Computer.sparsebundle” is already in use.

If you are running Mountain Lion, try this:

1.) Open AirPort Utility (If you are using Mountain Lion (OSX 10.8.3), this will be AirPort Utility 6.0 or Higher.)
2.) Select your Time Capsule
3.) Click “Edit”
4.) Select the “Disks” Tab (located furthest RIGHT)
5.) Deselect “Enable File Sharing
6.) Click “Update” & let the Time Capsule Re-Boot
7.) Go Back into AirPort Utility as before and re-select “Enable File Sharing” and let it Re-Boot again.

This should fix the problem.

If you are not running Mountain Lion, this advice should work  (http://pondini.org/TM/C12.html).

The main thing is to reset users.

Here’s Apple’s tutorial on how to set up Time Machine. https://www.apple.com/findouthow/mac/#timemachinebasics

3 Responses to “Sparsebundle problems with Apple’s Time Machine & Time Capsule? Here’s an easy fix!”

  1. […] IN AN EARLIER ENTRY I’d written that I had successfully resolved sparsebunlde errors on the Time Capule/Time Machine which I use to back up my computer. […]


  2. jh5000 said

    This totally worked for me! Thanks!


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