NAS – TimeMachine – AlmondPlus

I was a Kickstarter backer of a great project called Almond Plus. The great thing about it was basically, it is a great piece of technology, rather than a piece of crap that a lot of Kickstarter projects become. Even though the project was a few months late, I basically got a $250 USD piece of hardware for $99. Since the hardware doesn't change much, certainly for my needs, the great thing is that the software becomes better and therefore the product is better over time.

I swapped out my 2tb Apple Time Machine and got a much faster and more reliable wireless network (yes there are occasionally reboots, but so it was with the Time Machine). In addition, there are 4 gigabit ethernet ports, actually two wifi networks (2.4ghz/5ghz), two USB3 ports, a touchscreen interface, and a full-blown open source OpenWRT installation. That is the best part.

So, I needed to move a USB-3 HDD over there and do Time Machine backups. Turns out that is not the easiest thing, and I had to make use of NTFS for the file system to get it to work.

Install NTFS Support on OSX

Format Hard Drive

I had previously tried to use various other options than NTFS, including MS-DOS/FAT, EXT3, etc. etc. They didn't work well. Instead:

  • Format the Hard Drive as NTFS
  • GUID Partition Table option

Give the partition a name you like (has to be UPPERCASE)

Connect to Almond Plus

  • On the Almond Plus / OpenWRT router, turn on SAMBA, and the mount points should just work. If not, set them to /dev/sda2 to /mnt/usb/SHARENAME or something like that. There will be a /dev/sda1 which is about 20mb in size, shared as EFI. Some boot partition or something.

Network Drive

The share (which currently is hard-coded as almondplus), will have the SHARENAME that was the name the drive partition was given. Additional shares and share names can be added as mount points in the web interface.

Time Machine Drive

Basically, the steps to do a Time Machine backup on this SAMBA network file share is:

  • Create a SPARSEBUNDLE which is essentially a mountable drive (this below creates one that can size up to 500gb, roughly 2x current drive size)

hdiutil create -size 500g -type SPARSEBUNDLE -fs HFS+J TimeMachine.sparsebundle

  • Copy that file to the file share, and then double-click to mount
  • Tell Time Machine to use that file share for backup

sudo tmutil setdestination /Volumes/TimeMachine

  • Start the first backup

After that there may need to be some automation to remount on reboot.