ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Time Capsule And Time Machine After A Clean Install Of OS X

Updated on November 30, 2012
How to link old Time Machine backups to a clean install.  Click the picture to enlarge it.
How to link old Time Machine backups to a clean install. Click the picture to enlarge it.

Time Machine And Time Capsule

Apple provides its users with an easy backup solution that is built right into OSX. This backup solution is known as Time Machine. Time Machine can be used with Apple's wireless drive and wi-fi base station known as Time Capsule or with any type of hard drive. Time Machine backs up your computer at set intervals and then stores the backups. It keeps an hourly record of everything for the last day and then also keeps older daily, weekly, and monthly copies. Time Machine allows users to do a clean install of OSX without fear of losing data. The user simply formats the drive, installs the new operating system, and then restores the data using setup assistant. Time Machine turns a nightmare into an easy procedure.

Clean Install And Data Restore Using The Setup Assistant And Time Machine Backups

When you do a clean install you will have a number of choices for restoring your data. The method that is the most stable is to use the OS X setup assistant. Too use this method, hook your Time Capsule or other Time Machine hard drive to your computer. Firewire is the fastest, most reliable method. The next best method is ethernet. Once your Apple Time Capsule or other hard drive is hooked up, turn on your computer and use the setup assistant prompts to walk through the process of moving your data. Setup assistant is the most reliable way to restore your user settings and restore your access to your Time Machine backups. If you did not use setup assistant, you may wish to reformat and do a new clean install so that you are able to use the OS X setup assistant feature.

Restarting Time Machine Using Your Old Time Machine Backups After A Clean Install

Once you are done with setup assistant, go into the Time Machine preferences and restart your backups. You should get a box that looks something like the picture on the right. If you do not get this box, you will need to do some work in terminal to get your backups going again. If the option to adopt your old backups is not offered, quickly turn off Time Machine and open Terminal.

Note: The commands in Terminal can do serious damage to your backups or your computer. Terminal allows you to mess around with the core programming of the operating system. Changes here cannot be undone. Do not attempt any repairs in Terminal unless you are willing to risk the damage and are comfortable working with hand typed terminal commands. Proceed at your own risk!

If you are using a Time Capsule or other network drive for your Time Machine backups, you must be using Mountain Lion for this to work. Some of the needed commands do not work on network drives except in Mountain Lion. Even in Mountain Lion you may have problems and this solution may not work.

  1. Log into your computer in the administrator account
  2. Open terminal
  3. After the command line prompt type sudo tmutil inheritbackup DO NOT HIT RETURN! Make sure there is a space after inheritbackup.
  4. Open the Finder. Open up your Time Capsule or other Time Machine drive. Find where it says backups.backupd. Open that file. You should see a folder that says Macintosh or the name of your Macintosh. Drag this file onto the terminal.
  5. Hit return
  6. Next, open that folder. If you see anything that says .inProgress delete it.
  7. Open the most recent dated folder. Inside it should be another folder with either Macintosh or your computer's name. Keep that open. Go back to terminal.
  8. Type sudo tmutil associatedisk -a / DO NOT HIT RETURN. Make sure that there is a space before and after the / .
  9. Drag the folder from step 7 into the terminal.
  10. Hit return
  11. Cross your fingers that you didn't get any error messages. If you got an error message, visit for more help as I don't have the knowledge to assist you in any way. Pondini has a lot of awesome time machine information. Pondini is also where I got these directions.
  12. Go up to your Time Machine icon. Hold down the option key and click on the icon. A menu should pop up that says verify backups. Choose this option. The computer will hopefully run through a check of your previous time machine back up. If it can do this, you may have reassociated your backup successfully.
  13. Try a backup and see if it works. The first backup may take longer than previous Time Machine backups.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Lwelch profile imageAUTHOR

      Lena Welch 

      3 years ago from USA

      Ugg! This hits home now because I am dealing with that right now. It ran out of room with my update to Maverick. I was going to dump the old files on another drive and start a new backup. I had it turned off so I could do that. Evidently a restart turned it back on, it created a new image, and erased my years of time machine! I am waiting for a replacement external drive as mine hosed itself when I tried to format it and I have one other backup image on my capsule that needs to be pulled to have enough room for my new backup. UGGGGGG! I am thinking that I really need a terabyte time capsule (and a nice shiny super huge internal flash drive to go with it!)

    • Viss profile image

      Vishal Chaudhary 

      3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Ever got yourself into a situation where you have lost backup files from a Time Machine drive? Sounds awkward but Time Machine drive is any usual hard drive from which data can be deleted/formatted/unmounted. Thankfully, Stellar Phoenix Mac data recovery V7.0 is first Mac data recovery software to recover deleted or formatted data from Time Machine drive. Here goes the details


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)