How to get Netgear ReadyShare to work with Time Machine and Mountain Lion (Mavericks Too!) (Oh and El Capitan!)

ReadyShare Final Result

Note: I just upgraded to OSX Mavericks (10.9) and the ReadyShare drive is still readable and functional in Time Machine. You shouldn’t run into any trouble if you decide to upgrade. If you do run into problems (I did later on), I have some notes below to help.

Over the weekend I purchased a Netgear DGND3700v2 DSL Modem / Router (N600) and discovered that there was a great feature called ReadyShare. This allowed you to plug a USB drive into it and have it shared across all your computers in the network (music, photos, backup, etc.) However, their documentation to get it to work with OSX’s Time Machine backup tool wasn’t working. After some digging and tweaking, I managed to make it work.

TL;DR (For those of you that want the quick fix);

Use Fat32 (might be listed as simply FAT in newer versions of Disk Utility) partitions for all your partitions since the router will be able to read them. From there, create a sparse bundled disc image on the partition for your Time Machine backup. Mount it, and then set that to be your Time Machine backup source.

The Setup

I’m running a MacBookPro with Mountain Lion (OSX 10.8.3). I have a Netgear DGND3700v2 DSL Modem / Router (N600) with firmware version and a Western Digital Elements 1.5 TB Drive. Getting things to work for you may vary slightly based on drive/hardware, but I this approach should work.

Formatting the Drive

The first step is to format the drive. According to the documentation, the router is supposed to be able to support OSX Extented (Journaled) partitions, but I could never get them to show up. According to some various discussion threads, the AFP protocol changed somewhere in Lion and there’s still no support since Netgear does some custom interaction with the shares. However, ReadyShare DOES support Fat32 and we can make this work on OSX.

The first step is to plug in your USB drive and backup any data you may want to keep on your USB drive. We have to repartition the drive, and you’ll lose everything. Next launch the Disk Utility tool, select the USB drive, and click the “Partition” tab.

Change the drop down from “Current” to whatever partition scheme you want (I’m using two). Change the drive formats to be “MS-DOS (Fat32)” and verify that they are being created using the “Master Boot Record” scheme (under options). Note, that with El Capitan the option now simply reads MS-DOS (Fat). Major HT to James B and Jon for helping debug this one in the comments.

One other important note, and this comes from Fernando who commented below:

One very important thing I did not see in the instructions is to make sure the backup image has the option to “Ignore ownership on this volume” set to OFF or unchecked. Apple warns that using Time Machine on a disk with the option turned on can result in the backups missing some user settings. My guess is that the average person is likely to go on without noticing this until it is too late. (!!)

ReadyShare Drive Partition Setup

ReadyShare Drive Partition Options

Once your options are set. Click the “Apply” button to repartition the drive. This make take a little time based on the size of the drive.

Creating the Time Machine Image

Time Machine requires an OSX Extended (Journaled) partition in order to function properly. While we don’t have a drive in this format, I discovered (immense HT to Frank over in the Netgear forums) that we can create a disk image in this format and have Time Machine backup on to that.

Close the Disk Utility program and open it back up again. Click the “New Image” icon. In the window that opens up to specify where to save the image to, make sure you specify the proper partition again. You can name the image whatever you want. In addition, we want our disk image to have the following settings:

  • Name: Whatever you prefer. I call mine “TimeMachine” for consistency.
  • Size: Whatever fits best on your system. I use the “Custom” option and make it close to my full drive space.
  • Format: Mac OSX Extended (Journaled)
  • Encryption: Whatever you prefer
  • Partitions: Single Partition – Apple Partition Map
  • Image Format: sparse bundle disk image

Ready Share Disk Image Settings

Once all the settings are in place, click the “Create” button and wait for the process to finish.

Now you can eject your drive and plug it into the router to finish off the process.

Verify ReadyShare Drives

After plugging in the drive to your router. Launch the router admin tool (, select the “Advanced” tab, expand the “USB Storage” section, and click the “Advanced Settings” link.

Ready Share USB Settings

From here we want to verify that we can see both of our drives listed. If not, you can use the “Create Network Folder” option and add the necessary folders.

Ready Share Settings

Our final step is to map up Time Machine.

Mapping Time Machine Backup Location

Now that we have our drives available in ReadyShare, we need to connect them to the server and setup our mappings. From Finder, select Go -> Connect to Server and enter the address smb://readyshare and click “Connect”.  After connecting, select the drive your Time Machine image is on (or both in my case since I’m sharing music on my WinBackup drive) and click connect.

Ready Share Connect

By default, your Time Machine image will not have been mounted. We need to do this. Open up the drive that your Time Machine partition is on and double click on the .sparsebundle file that is there. After a minute you will see that your image has been mounted

Ready Share Mount Image

Finally, we need to select this image for our Time Machine backups. We do this through the Terminal window. Open up a new terminal, and enter the following commands:

cd /Volumes

If all is still working smoothly, you’ll see your Time Machine image listed

Ready Share Terminal List

Now enter the command (we need to do this as room) to do our mapping

sudo tmutil setdestination /Volumes/[Your Image Name]

Note: If you’re using OSX 10.7 (Lion) the command appears to be:

sudo tmutil setdestination -p /Volumes/[Your Image Name]

Note: If you’re using OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and below the process seems to be a lot trickier. The best documentation I’ve been able to find to date is this one. Please let me know if you find better.

If there’s no errors, you have success! You can even verify things in Time Machine itself.

ReadyShare Terminal Mapping

ReadyShare Time Machine Settings

And you’re all set! Now you can run your Time Machine backups and leave your drive on the network. I find this particularly helpful since sometimes I’m working upstairs or down in my office, and don’t want to drag the USB drive with me. Plus I can share the MP3 collection across my virtual machines and other Windows machines in the house.

ReadyShare Final Result

Mavericks: Dancing the Samba

A while after I updated to Mavericks (10.9) I had to do a complete reformat of my machine. After doing so, I wasn’t able to connect to my readyshare drives, though I could still connect to them through my Windows virtual machines. I would usually get a timeout message, or I would be prompted for a username and password, and then after a delay there was an error connecting. Doing some research, this issue is due to the fact that with Mavericks, the new default protocol for Samba connections is SMB2, while most systems (including ReadyShare) is using SMB1. To fix this issue, there are several options which might work:

  • Instead of using smb:// when connecting, use afp:// (HT to Tim Nordyke for this)
  • Instead of using smb:// when connecting, use cifs:// (HT to this article for this)
  • Override the defaults so that SMB connects using SMB1 protocol (HT to this article for this)
  • Create a new Network Folder in the ReadyShare administration panel that points to the same drive. For some reason the old network folder just wasn’t connecting, but a new one did just fine.

For me, a combination of the last two did the trick, but I’ve seen lots of success with the first two as well.

Final Notes

You’ll want to do make sure that your drives/images are remounted upon login to make sure Time Machine continues to function. To do this, read this followup post, since it was a little more involved than I initially thought.

I’ve been told that you can use EXT 2 formatted drives and they play really nice with the router, but you’re going to need something like MacFUSE installed to properly handle the drive.

You could potentially use your Windows partitions in NTFS by reformatting them again on a Windows machine, but I’m not going to risk it for the time being. 8^D

A HUGE thanks to all the people that have commented below and have helped diagnose issues as each new version of OSX comes out. It’s great to have a “living document” in this manner.

Hope this helps!


183 thoughts on “How to get Netgear ReadyShare to work with Time Machine and Mountain Lion (Mavericks Too!) (Oh and El Capitan!)”

  1. Thank you very much!!!! I was starting to become frustrated with trying to set up ReadyShare with TimeMachine until I came across your instructions. Very detailed, and using the screen captures to help explain the process was extremely helpful for someone new to the Mac world after using a PC for so many years.

    1. Happy to help! I’ll admit I’ve only been using a Mac for about 2 years now, so I’m still learning the ropes on some of these things. Glad the screen shots helped. 8^D

      1. Hi, thanks so much for the detailed tutorial, however I ran into some issues. I am using Yosemite, I got all set up to the step where you mount the volume in the terminal. Unfortunately, when I enter cd /Volumes, I get nothing. Any tips on how to mount it in Yosemite?

          1. Thank you for your quick reply… I know that I am doing something wrong or my drive is not functioning as expected. When I type in the terminal “ls” it shows the partition but not the time machine file. If i type in cd /Volumes it does not return anything .
            The only thing that I did not do is “Ignore ownership on this volume” setting, because I did not know where to find it. Would you be able to provide more info on that?

          2. When you’re configuring the drive partitions, I believe the ownership option is available by clicking the “Options” button below the “stack” view that has your partition name/types listed. See if you can find it there. If not you might try going through the process again. I couple of people have simply redone the process and things worked for them the second time. It could have been a small detail missed. i know it took me a couple of tries to get it going myself. It’s not the simplest solution out there, but it works. 8^D

  2. Thanks so much for this walk-through! When I do the terminal sudo commands I get this after I put in my password:

    statfs failed for /volumes/timemachine
    /volumes/timemachine: No such file or directory (error 2)
    The backup destination could not be set.
    Brandons-MacBook-Pro:volumes Brandon$

    Did I miss a step or something? The only step I did differently was when I partitioned the drive. The option to make it a Master Boot Record was blacked out so I had to keep it as a GUID.
    Any ideas?

    1. Hmm, that is weird. All the previous documentation I had found said that GUID would work as well as MBR for partition format. Were you able to verify that the .sparsebundle file mounted okay? If you don’t see it show up on your desktop, you can see it in the device list in the sidebar of your finder:

      If you’re not seeing it there, you may need to double click on the .sparsebundle file again to get it out mount, or wait a little longer. Sometimes I have a good 10 second delay before it shows up.

      Other than that maybe try completely wiping the drive again and see if you can get MBR to show up as a viable option.

      Let me know if this works.

      1. Yep it definitely mounted and shows up on my desktop. I can even move files directly to the hard drive over wifi (which I couldn’t do before I followed your steps). I’m going to repeat the process tomorrow and see if I just did something wrong. Again, thanks for your help!

        1. Happy to help! If you’re still running into trouble, use the contact form (link in the menu bar) to get ahold of me offline and we’ll get this working!

  3. Can you please help me? I got this error message trying to map:

    localhost:Volumes macbookpro$ ls
    Disk Image Macintosh HD MobileBackups 1 timemachine-giu
    localhost:Volumes macbookpro$ sudo sudo tmutil setdestination /Volumes/timemachine-giu
    /Volumes/timemachine-giu: Incompatible file system type: smbfs (error 45)
    The backup destination could not be set.
    localhost:Volumes macbookpro$ sudo sudo tmutil setdestination /Volumes/timemachine-giu
    /Volumes/timemachine-giu: Incompatible file system type: smbfs (error 45)

    1. Hmm, I did a little digging, and other people reporting similar errors found the solution was to make sure the sparse bundle was mounted first. Have you double clicked on the .sparsebundle file to mount it first?

      If so, one thing I’ve found is that sometimes it takes a minute for the image to mount. If you try to mount the image prematurely, you could run into problems. Wait until the TimeMachine image shows up in the “devices” section before attempting to mount the image.

      Let me know if this helps.

  4. Thank you so much!!! Worked like charm on first try. I was going crazy with this. Two questions:
    1. How long did it take to make the first back up? I see you have 240GB to back up
    2. Do you think it is possible to plug the HDD directly to the laptop to do the first back up quickly through the USB 2 and then move the TimeMachine to the router?

    1. Glad it worked for you! My first backup took me a good part of a day, but I just setup a hot corner to prevent my screen saver from coming on and let it run.

      I had previously done backups connected, but I think time machine treats the network location as a new drive, so it will try to do a full backup again regardless.

      1. Just wanted to share my experience. Since it was taking way too long to backup over the wireless set up here is what I did:
        1. Set everything up as per the instructions above and started the back up. It was too slow. The I stopped the back up and plugged the TimeMachine to the USB on my MBP.
        2. Opened the Macbackup/TimeMachine/TimeMachine.Sparcebundle to load the TimeMachine
        3. The Time Machine recognized this volume and so I just started the back up. I had 350GB of data and it was done in 2-3 hours
        4. Unplugged the HDD from the MBP and connected it to the router.
        5. Had to open up System Preferences (from the Apple Menu) and select “Users and Groups” and then delete all the volumes that were set up under the Final Notes section. The computer was not recognizing them. The I set the up again. After I restarted the two volumes that i created were loaded OK but the TimeMachine image was still not loaded. As an extra step I had to drag the TimeMachine.sparcebundle to the “Users and Groups”. Same as posted in the Final notes section.
        6. Restarted and everything was loaded OK.
        7. Hit Time Machine/Backup now and it backed up the additional 16Mb of changes since my last backup in no time.

        Hope that helps.

  5. Hey Dillie

    I’m having trouble getting this to work.

    I end up with this after i put my password in –

    Macintosh HD Time Machine Timemachine Wally
    Grants-MacBook-Pro:volumes Wally$
    Grants-MacBook-Pro:volumes Wally$ sudo tmutil setdestination /volumes/ timemachine
    Usage: tmutil setdestination [-a] mount_point
    tmutil setdestination [-ap] afp://user[:pass]@host/share
    Grants-MacBook-Pro:volumes Wally$

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks for all your hard work.


    1. What are your ReadyShare settings set to for your USB drive? I have mine set to public access (meaning anybody within the network can connect without credentials) and I’m wondering if maybe yours is expecting admin credentials to connect to it.

        1. I’ve still been doing some digging for potential solutions since I’m unable to replicate it myself. A few things have popped up.

          1. Double checking that your .sparsebundle file is mounted before running the command. It might have gone away. You can verify this by seeing it in the finder on the sidebar under “Devices”

          2. Does your drive name have any spaces in it? If so you’ll need to rename (potentially reformat/rename). Spaces have been known to cause issues.

          3. …still looking into other options. 8^D

          Let me know if this helps.

    2. Thanks a lot! One problem though, i created a sparse bundle using the settings you said (no encryption) of 300 gb. as soon as i make it and click on it in disk utility or in finder it shows 80 gb of used space on the sparse bundle (220 free). i have added no folders to it. also when i do add a file, lets say a 2gb file, it’ll show 82gb of used space. did u have this problem too?

        1. i restarted my mac and the problem seemed to go away. but instead now its taking up 10gb free space. also i noticed every time i mount the empty sparse bundle 2 more files are added (mount image and look at disk utility). is this happening to others too?

  6. I got up all the way to enter the password in terminal, and I am getting sorry, Try again.

    I’ve tried admin, password, (the password written on the router), and still doesn’t work. I even tried to change the readyshare rights to All – No password, and admin. Any thoughts?

    1. Hmm, that password should be asking for your root password, so you might be stuck with finding your original root password for your Mac. I’m not sure what tools are available for that though.

  7. Hi Dillie. First of all, thanks for the very detailed instructions and screenshots. they are very helpful for the total beginner I am. I tried to get ReadShare to work with TM but with the Mac OSX.10.6.8 It worked well and I managed to mount the image. It even shows up in the terminal window. However, when I enter the sudo tmutil command and my admin password, I have the following error message: “sudo: tmutil: command not found” Any idea how to go from there? Or do you know another way to get TM working with ReadyShare on this OSX?


    1. Greetings Adrien,

      I did some digging, and Snow Leopard (the version of OSX you’re running) doesn’t support the tmutil command.

      I did a little digging, and this post looks like it’s addressing a similar issue, for when folks upgrading from 10.5 to 10.6 had to update their time machine backups to point to their network drives.

      Give it a look over and see if it helps. Ignore the parts about creating a new network drive sparsebundle (since you have that) but more towards updating Time Machine to point to that volume.

      Let me know if this helps.

  8. Stuck at the same step as Adrien. I found your instructions to be very helpful, but everything has halted now. Using 10.8.4.

    1. Sorry, I’m actually stuck at an earlier spot. After I confirmed the drive mounted is mounted and after I enter the command “cd /Volumes” I receive “command not found” when I try to run the command “1s”. Any ideas?

        1. Yes, I put a space between “cd” and “/Volumes”. So you were getting the error after entering the command “1s” and it was related to a missing space on an earlier line, between “cd” and “/Volumes”?

          1. Hmm, this seems a little odd. Maybe try this:

            Open your terminal and type “cd /” and then type “ls” and see what is shown. You should see volumes here. Remember to not include the “” when typing.

          2. I just realized that it was “ls” not “1s”. Was able to move from that step, but I’m stuck where Grant Wallace is/was. Thoughts?


          3. Hmm, what did you name your backup drive? If it has spaces in the name, you’ll need to wrap the drive path statement in quotes to accommodate for the space in the drive name, such as tmutil setdestination “/Volumes/Backup Drive Name”

          4. That was it! Renamed the disk image so that it was just one word and now it’s appearing as an option for Time Machine. Thanks for the help!

        2. Where is that security setting changed on the ReadyShare drive? I tried doing this yesterday, but I didn’t see it in the Router Admin tool.

          1. Log in to the router control panel and then click on the big ReadyShare icon on the main part of the page. From here you should be able to see your drive(s) that are being shared. Right below the list is the “Edit” button. Click that to bring up the edit page and use the radio button to select the drive you want to work with. Click the edit button again and this will pop up a window that allows you to modify the drive name and security settings. Hope this helps!

          2. Okay, that is in check. Not quite sure why you would have that issue. Have you tried restarting your Mac, remounting the TimeMachine sparsebundle and trying the destination command again?

          3. Ok I’ve restarted and entered the destination command again, but still get the same result.

            Usage: tmutil setdestination [-a] mount_point
            tmutil setdestination [-ap] afp://user[:pass]@host/share

            Frustrating as hell. I feel like I’m following the directions, but just can’t get this thing to be recognized as an option for Time Machine b/u.

          4. I should have asked this before, since the issue came up, but what version of OSX are you running. If you’re using Snow Leopoard, there’s a different syntax needed to mount network drives. I had a link in the comments, but I think something stripped it out, so I’ll look it up again if that is the case.

  9. Thank you! This is huge, as these instructions can provide guidance with any router that shares a hard drive, really.

    Paraphrasing Newton, standing on the shoulders or giants, I encrypted my images. Having OS X Lion, this option did not exist for a network backup but now it does!

    One very important thing I did not see in the instructions is to make sure the backup image has the option to “Ignore ownership on this volume” set to OFF or unchecked. Apple warns that using Time Machine on a disk with the option turned on can result in the backups missing some user settings. My guess is that the average person is likely to go on without noticing this until it is too late. (!!)

    Like others, my first backup was taking an eternity, so I stopped it and followed Apple’s instructions to move backups between disks (Google is your friend) and then plugged the HDD back in the router. It made a huge difference.

    Thanks so much!

  10. Hmmm… I just bought a new external hdd. The original Netgear documentation didn’t work, so I tried your documentation. This worked well until I have to use Terminal. Every time I typ cd /Volumesls, Terminal says ” -bash: syntax error near unexpected token `newline’ “.
    What to do?

    1. Hell yeah! I fixed it on my own. The given were the mistakes Terminal couldn’t understand. I skipped the first Terminal command, and gave the 2nd, without

          1. Thank you so much! I also missed a step and placed my image on my desktop instead of the external hard drive

          1. Just one more question, why is my Time Machine backup taking 15+ hours? When my HDD is connected to my laptop, it takes 1 hour. USB 3 to USB 3. Is it because my router is USB 2.0?

          2. Partially due to the USB 2.0, partially due to the latency of transmission over Wi-Fi. Your first backup is typically the longest, after that it goes pretty quick.

    1. Hmm, I haven’t run into this one before to be honest. I’m sorry this is happening. Two thoughts come to mind:

      1. Have you opened up the Disk Utility and run a scan on the backup drive? Most likely this will mean having to plug it in directly to your computer for a short amount of time again for a faster scan. However, there may be some bad sectors or something causing this.

      2. How is your WiFi connection? I say this only because I’m on a dual band system and was running into problems when I was in my office downstairs. The backup drive kept going offline. It turned out I was on the 5GHz channel which wasn’t strong enough to go through the floor consistently. Moving back to the 2.5GHz channel resolved this issue.

      Hope this helps.

  11. Thank you, thank you. I’m new to the Mac world. I tried contacting the Netgear help folks with this issue–all they could do was point me to the basic information they had printed (which I had already read.) They were worthless.

    So far, so good with this issue (thanks to you). Now I just need to figure out how to mount the timemachine network drive at login. It’s all a little intimidating.

    1. Glad to be of help Lisa. I have a link in my article above on how to create a script to mount your drive at login. Give it a peek and let me know if it helps.

  12. Excellent write-up. This all worked for me first time. Thank you for a very nice write-up. It always amazes me that the answer *exists*, it really does, this web page proves it. Vut there are countless incorrect websites. And Netgear itself is clueless. Thank you Sean

  13. Damn! I’ve found a new bug in my “Time Machine”. Backing up this way worked pretty well for al while, but then suddenly my Mac ejects the .sparsebundle every time Time Machine wants to make a backup… How can I solve this?

      1. No, I don’t get an error message… Time Machine or anything else just ejects the .sparsebundle noiselessly. I discovered the eject after canceling the backup automatically. Any ideas?

        1. Hmm, sadly no. I have found for myself that after my computer goes to sleep my .sparsebundle will be ejected from time to time and I created a script (I have a link to it in the post) to remount everything, so I simply run that manually and things work good for me.

          I’ll admit I’m not the best “Mac Head” in the world, so I’ll see if I can find some scripts to check/remount the .sparsebundle when it gets ejected.

  14. Thanks for the write-up. My computer is running Lion rather than Mountain Lion, so some of the commands are different, but I got as far as attempting to connect to the server after my drive has been plugged in to the router. When I checked to see if I could see the drive listed under USB Storage, it was, except that the share name was USB Storage. The volume name was MACBACKUP, which is what I had named the partition that I wanted to use as the backup. When I connected the drive to the server, neither the MACBACKUP volume nor any other volume was available to select. It does open as a drive “USB Storage”, which has a single file, TimeMachine.sparsebundle, even though I did not select it. And UBS Storage shows as a disk on my desktop. I have thereafter attempted to mount the TimeMachine image for the backup without success.

    Any thoughts on what I should do now?

    1. I believe the “USB Storage” issue has to deal with she share name being used through ReadyShare. When you log in to the admin panel and go to Advanced Settings / USB Storage, you should be able to rename the share name to something more familiar (like MACBACKUP)

      As for the mounting issue, I know a couple other people have run into this with Lion. I’m updating my article above with how to mount using the various versions of OSX, so please check up there again and see if it works.

      1. Thanks again. I got to the point where I entered the “sudu tmutil set destination -p /volumes/TimeMachine” command in Terminal (for Lion). The response was “-bash: sudu: command not found”. Do you have further thoughts on how to proceed?

    1. If you’re talking about rebuilding your backup drive then yes. Unfortunately you’ll have to flush the data on your backup drive. If you’re talking about reformatting your Mac or upgrading to a newer version of the OS, then no. The newer version of OSX does fine with the older backup images.

      If you have an extra external drive (or can afford a new one) you might see about starting a fresh drive and then look at migrating the backup content over, if you’re concerned about what is on it. I’ll admit that this goes beyond my expertise with OSX in general, but you could put on the “googlian monk” robes and see what’s out there.

  15. Everything is working great.. Now a full backup.
    But I have some questions.

    -What if MAC OSX crashes and you need to reinstall the OS. Do you need to do the whole process (set destination via terminal etc.) again?

    -If the above answer is yes.. Is there a possibility to make a script that u can put on an USB stick or something (then it’s all automated).

    – Is there a possibility to make backups from everywhere, even outside your LAN. Maybe if u open ports in the router so u can access the readyshare map and u can do backup’s from everywhere?

    Thanks alot

    1. Glad things are working for you Maxime!

      If you have to reinstall the OS then you will need to setup the destination again at the terminal. The good news is that you won’t have to reformat the backup drive or anything like that.

      I’m not sure if it would be possible to make backups from anywhere. Previous experience would lend me to believe that if you could setup a VPN to your home network, then to your Mac everything would appear as normal and you could perform the backups. I used to do this back in the day with iTunes to access my library of music at home.

      However, I don’t know if the latency (speed) of the backups would be helpful when running them or if Time Machine would detect that is on a VPN and try to stop doing backups.

      That is something I’ll have to look into. Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks for an absolutely brilliant article. I can’t believe I managed to follow all the steps without a hitch! I do have two Macs at home though, and thought I could back them both up to the one external HD but you’re suggesting this is not a likely option?

        1. It’s definitely an option, but I believe what you’ll have to do is create two sparsebundle images after partitioning the drive, since I don’t believe you can backup two machines to the same image.

          So in the step where I outline creating the TimeMachine image, you’ll want to repeat this process twice. Make sure your image sizes are half (or less) what you have on the partition, and name them TimeMachineA / TimeMachineB or whatever works for you. Then you’ll mount each one accordingly on the Mac.

          Hope this helps!

          1. Thanks again! I managed to complicate things a bit but once I got back to basics and followed your instructions step by step again I am now backing up my two iMacs with Time Machine and my daughters Windows 8 laptop automatically. Thanks very much for your help.

  16. I get this error after completing the commands and entering my password:

    /Volumes/USB_Storage: Incompatible file system type: smbfs (error 45)
    The backup destination could not be set.

    Any suggestions? It should have been formatted to FAT-32 and followed your step by step instructions. I’m running OSX 10.8.5


    1. Hmm, it looks like something might have gone wonky with the format, maybe one of the advanced settings were changed accidentally. Any way you can try reformatting again?

  17. Hi im trying to get this setup and after inputting my password and having the drive mount im getting:
    Mareks-MacBook-Pro:~ root# sudo tmutil setdestination /Volumes/Macbackup
    /Volumes/Macbackup: Permission denied (error 13)
    The backup destination could not be set.
    First time it went through and asked for the password and after the password it came up with :
    /Volumes/Macbackup: Permission denied (error 13)
    The backup destination could not be set.
    I have tryed it with both admin and root privelages and still not able to get it to go.
    My partitions are correct one fat-32 for the other side of my drive and then the time machine backup part with the bundle is a mac osx extended journaled with master boot record
    Ive read all over and canot find this error
    The option to “Ignore ownership on this volume” set to OFF .
    I work for apple and know OSX and Mac computer really well but this is giving me some trouble
    Im using a Netgear WNDR3700v3 dual band with firmware version V1.0.0.30_1.0.27.

    1. Hmm, have you started the process over? A few people have run into similar issues and sometimes it was a fluke in a setting or the process and doing things again made it work.

      Also, what version of OSX are you running? There seem to be some big differences across Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion that have specific answers.

      1. Got it working, had to reset the terminal and reenable root. All good now. One question though
        In the event of needing to do recovery or migration, how would I go about doing this?

        1. Good to hear you got things working!!! I’m taking note about making sure root is enabled in case somebody comes across that again.

          If you did need to do a recovery/migration. You would need to bring up a base install of OSX, mount your drive. Setup TimeMachine, then at that point you could use the restore features of Time Machine.

          I’ll have to look into doing a restore from an install disc type scenario, but that would be ideal.

  18. First: thanks for this – I was very frustrated with Netgear’s instructions, as they did not work. Looking forward to making this happen, once I get my hardware in line. Second: Might want to add this warning up at the top, though…. To anyone who angrily yelled at their computer for hours when it wouldn’t enable the Master Boot Record option in Disk Utility on their external drive: Wikipedia (mankind’s omniscient source of wisdom) says that MBR partitioning is only available on drives that are 2 TB max. So, my 3 TB drive (that I specifically bought for Time Machine backups via Netgear Readyshare after reading this article) is functioning well as a heavy paperweight, but is useless for its intended purpose. I might try the GUID method (and by the way, Wikipedia mentioned that MBR is being superseded by GUID for this very reason), but will try the above proven methodology with my 1 TB drive first.

      1. I was amazed at this, but no. It’s limited to a physical 2TB disk. I tried partitioning at 2 TB / 1 TB, 1.5 / 1.5, 3 partitions of 1TB, etc…. no dice. :-( however I have gotten everything going on my 1 TB disk.

        I’ve read over the article and comments but I don’t think I saw this directly asked / answered, so maybe it will help someone else: I was backing up my computer to a USB drive via an Airport Extreme before I got my netgear router. Unlike direct USB backups, time machine automatically makes it a sparsebundle in wireless network cases- I believe this is true even in Time Capsules. So, after formatting my 1 TB drive to MBR Fat 32, I put my preexisting sparsebundle on it, plugged it into my netgear router and went through all of the steps as directed above in terms of mounting it and Terminal commands to indicate the mounted sparsebundle as time machine backup. I am now backing up, and have access to my old backups. (NOTE: time machine preferences display “Oldest backup: None.” the old backups are displaying in the “Enter Time Machine” screen, but for the moment, if I click back to an old one, the “Enter Time Machine” screen freezes up and takes a couple minutes to cancel out. I think this is due to the fact that I haven’t backed up my machine with this new setup- after this happens,I think it should be able to pull up the referenced files more easily. Just a hunch… not positive. I can update this if anyone cares to hear the outcome).

        Thanks again for taking the time to write this article! Very helpful. Saw in your About.Me that you’re a fellow USC grad – Fight On – and may the football Gods smile upon us next year. Or ever again. Amen.

        1. Oh one other partition scheme I tried was 1 TB and then 1.5 TB partitions of free space – an awful waste, but worthy test – still didn’t work.

  19. Will it work with Netgear DGN2200 ? I guess not. After the partitioning my Mack is not able to connect to readyshare anymore.

      1. Hi Sean,
        Thanks for responding. I didn’t get any email notification from the website for your reply.

        After 3 partitions, my router didn’t recognise the hard drive any longer. May be this router is not capable enough.
        The login page (router settings page) is also completely different than your screenshot.

        1. Hmm, it could indeed be due to an older model. In addition, how big is your drive? Another person reported not being able to work with drives over 2TB in size, regardless of the partition size. Did you remember to check the option to receive follow-up comments via e-mail? If you did then it was a WordPress bug I’ll have to contact them about.

          1. Hi Sean,
            I got a new router on deal (WD My Net N900). But due to my mistake this is not what I thought I bought. I think when I was reading reviews I got reviews of My Net N900 Central and thought this one has AFP. This model doesn’t have AFP. But this one was able to recognise all 3 partitions and data transfer speed is quite good at 450 mbps.

            Now I followed your method but could not get it to work. Then I followed the below links and tried to get it working.
            Then I finally returned to your method and everything is working with my MBA with latest OS.

            Finally returned to your method and things are working fine now. Just finished my first backup over wifi. Thank you very much for your detailed post.

            I’ve 2 questions..
            1. Is it possible to protect two of the partitions with a password.
            2. Is it possible to access my hard drive over internet.
            I don’t want to leave any of my systems on 24/7. So I would like to achieve this with just my router and modems and the hard drives attached to them.

            Any pointers are much appreciated.

          2. I’m glad you were able to get things working!

            In regards to your questions

            1. Yes, you can password protect partitions, but you’ll have to reformat them again to do so, see this link: If you don’t want to reformat, you need to look into the features of your router to see if you can change the security on individual partitions.

            2. You can access your WD drive from over the web, but looking at the main product site it appears you need to get a “My Book Live” device to make this happen. I’m not an expert on your router, so you might have to ask in some forums. However, if you’re looking to backup over the web remotely, this won’t be the approach to take, since the drive is mounted differently. You’d have to do a VPN connection to your local network and mount things that way. I haven’t looked that far into doing that.

            Hope this helps!

  20. I’m a bit stuck…very new to this kind of thing so sorry if I’m missing something obvious. I’m running Maverick at the moment. Have partitioned my disk and it has format MS-DOS (FAT) and Partition Scheme Master Boot Record, but when I go to the next step of Creating a new Image I don’t get as many options to configure the image as you show in your screen shot. I have Image Format – Read-only, Compressed, read/write, or DVD/CD master (no sparse bundle option) and the only other field under that is encryption. I’ve tried all these formats but I get an error saying file doesn’t exist. The screen also only has a save button, and not a create button.

    1. I ran into a similar issue when I was first doing this and discovered that the options available for creating images are context sensitive to what drive is selected. For me, quitting out of the disk utility, opening it back up, and immediately clicking the “New Image” button did the trick. See if it works for you.

      1. Thanks heaps, I got this working but now am having troubles at the stage of mapping it. After putting in my password it says this
        Usage: tmutil setdestination [-a] mount_point
        tmutil setdestination [-ap] afp://user[:pass]@host/share
        And when I go to verify it in TimeMachine the disk isn’t there.

        1. Glad that is working! Did you remember to mount the sparse bundle file by double clicking on it in finder. Once is shows up in the devices sidebar (or from the terminal you see it in the Volumes folder) you should be set. Your syntax could be off too. What is the exact text you are entering?

  21. Thanks! Great instructions. Was able to get my time machine up and running on my rMBP to my Netgear Nighthawk router. Backup speeds over AC are mighty fast :)

  22. Hi, since you formatted in FAT32 the maximum file dimension permitted is 4GB… how do you solve to allow time machine to backup iphoto library that is bigger than 4GB??

      1. I haven’t had a chance to update the post, but Ian B. had done some research earlier and you’re limited to a 2TB physical drive for your time machine backups since that’s the max a MBR partition will support.

        Sadly you’ll need a smaller drive for this.

        1. Hi Sean, yes, 2TB is enough as total backup limit, but I said that if we work on a FAT32 system, the maximum dimension of single file is 4GB… so I deduce that, yes, we can have a backup of 2TB, but if among the files we want to backup we have some files bigger than 4GB they won’t be backupped, I’m wrong? and to have files bigger than 4GB is very easy, I think to iphoto library or films… are you able to backup iphoto library, films or any file bigger than 4GB with the method here explained?

          1. I apologize for the confusion. I thought you were talking about drive size and not individual file size. To be honest, I’m not sure. I have a 6 GB iPhoto library which I recently consolidated with some other photos and it is up to 16.75 GB and I haven’t had any problems with backups. I’ll admit I don’t know the internals of iPhoto, but I’m guessing that the backup handles the individual photos themselves and not the library as a whole.

            As for large files (I have a few virtual machines that I currently don’t backup that are way beyond the 2GB file range, I’ll have to look into that. I currently don’t have them as part of my TimeMachine backup (for sync issues) but it’s worth looking into.

  23. Hi Sean,

    Thanks for your reply. But regarding encryption, I’m not able to encrypt any particular partition. Its allowing me to format the whole drive and encrypt. Individual partitions don’t have these options. Any suggestion?

  24. Wow–incredibly helpful post. The instructions were spot on, and even though I had a few hiccups along the way, I actually felt like I knew what I was doing! Next time I’m in the pub, I’ll raise my glass to Dillie-O.

  25. Hey Dillie-O,
    Very Helpful post, worked for me.
    One suggestion and a question:
    1. I followed these instructions and began backing up my MAC Mini to a 4TB Western Digital Drive to the drive attached to the NetGear router. The backup time was moving very slowly. So I connected the external hard drive directly to the MAC Mini and backed up to there, mounting the sparse bundle as described. The initial backup took about 1/3 the time. Then I have begun backing up to the NetGear after the first backup.
    2. I’m unclear on this statement: “make sure the backup image has the option to “Ignore ownership on this volume” set to OFF or unchecked. ” Looking around for more clarity, I found conflicting posts on whether and how to change this. Can you or someone elaborate? How do you make the change? Can you make the change after backups have started?

    1. Greetings tyweskev,

      To my knowledge, you will make that change under the “options” button when you’re formatting the drive. I don’t think you can change it once the drive has been partitioned, but you can open up the disk utility and check.

  26. Here’s a friendly note to all the folks out there who are technically literate but have poor attention to details. Make sure you have the right unit of measurement when creating your sparesbundle. I am a giant moron and spent the last half hour trying to figure out why I couldn’t back up my Mac to a 1,000MB disk image.

  27. Okay, I just restarted my computer and now I’m getting “no mountable file systems” when I try to mount my sparsebundle. Any idea what I did wrong?

    1. What steps have you gone through to mount the drive again? Sometimes it takes me an extra “refresh” to make sure that the drive is mounted via ReadyShare, then the drive is mountable itself (using the connect to server feature) and then finally double clicking on the sparsebundle file to mount.

  28. Hello, I tried with a DGND3300v2 and a USB3 Seagate 2TB. Mac OS X 10.9.2. Backup partition: 750GB
    Everything went fine until using the tmutil command:

    Ariel:~ root# tmutil setdestination /Volumes/[TimeMachine]
    statfs failed for /Volumes/[TimeMachine]
    /Volumes/[TimeMachine]: No such file or directory (error 2)
    The backup destination could not be set.
    Ariel:~ root#

    I cannot find a solution. Any ideas? Thank you

      1. Hi Dillie,
        the drive has been correctly mounted on the desktop and appears in the terminal list. I can read and write on that volume. Another doubt I have is that Readyshare automatically (?) adds a ‘USB_Storage’ in the drive path, before the volume name I chose: \\readyshare\USB_Storage\TimeMachine.
        Still could not find any viable fix to the issue.
        By the way, next step will be trying to set it up entirely in the ‘root’ user profile, who knows? Thank you for any help you can give me ;-)

  29. Hey! Thanks for the guide. I have tried it with a NTFS disk formatted by a Win7 VM and it seems to be working fine. I would really beware of FAT because of a 4Gbyte file-size limit… and as long as you don’t want to physically connect the drive to a Mac it doesn’t matter what file system the disk has anyway.

  30. If you don’t see the options, “Encryption”, “xxx” and “yyy” then make sure nothing is selected in the left pane. This is what restarting Disk Utility does.

  31. FYI: in Mavericks, the “new image+” icon in disk utility does *not* bring up the details options like size, sparse bundle, etc. You have to use file>new>blank disk image to get all the options you need.

  32. Awesome writeup. just one quick question. You mentioned that you should have two “images” created if you are backing up two machines. I have already created one and backed up the first machine then ran another backup on the second machine using the same image. I assumed that its just writing over the other computers data. I thought the image was simply a way for the computer to see the hard drive. Now realizing this probably won’t work, would i need to reformat the drive and create two images or can i simply add a second image once the second computer is done backing up?

    Thanks for your time!

    1. Glad to be of help Dan! My guess is that you should be able to simply create a second image (provided you have the space) and setup the other machine to backup from there. There’s no need to reformat at this point. Even if you have to adjust partition sizes, no format should be needed. Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks Dillie-O. I just looked at the drive and when you go into that partition it shows the folders for both computers. Should I assume that everything is fine?

  33. What an awesome topic!
    It really helped me set up my time machine here. It worked like a charm!
    I ended up doing an Automator script so I would be able to hit a group of keys and the backup would automagically start, without me having to connect to server, mount the thing and start Time Machine every time. I’m happy to share it with whoever wants it :)

    Still, I’ve been having some issues. This is the second time this happens:
    Time Machine was working normally. I had some backups and was starting another one. I had to leave so I canceled the backup, closed my MacBook Pro lid and left. When I tried to do the backup again, it simply wouldn’t mount the image anymore, as if it got corrupted.
    I tried plugging the USB directly on my mac to work on this faster and it now says that “There’s no mountable image on the drive.” This is the second time this happens, the first one being a couple of months back.

    Anyway, this whole thing looks very fragile to me now. I’m probably going to have to reformat the whole HDD and start from scratch because of this again and I’m loosing trust on this method. I loved your solution and the issue is probably on my side and I want to solve it.
    Any idea why this is happening? Am I doing something wrong? Should I unmount before putting my Mac to sleep?

    While I’m at it, what should be the normal flow to start a daily backup? What about after the backup? Should I do something after it’s done?


    1. Greetings Eric!

      I’m glad things are working, but I feel your pain. I’ll admit I’m not at 100% uptime with the backups either, but I’m probably about 95% success and for me this works just fine.

      That said, here are a couple of things I’ve found out along the way that might help (maybe I need to update my post to include them too 8^D)

      1. NEVER simply pull the USB drive out of the router. This will most likely corrupt the sparse bundle when you attach it to your computer, or back to the drive later on. I’ve had to do a few reformats because of this. Instead I use the router admin tool to unmount the drive, and then remove it.

      2. I too experience a lot of issues with the un-mounting/mounting of the drive when I close up the laptop, but I’ve found that after a little while, the drives seem to mount themselves back up (including the time machine image) again without issue. Maybe this is new to Mavericks, or maybe I just have a little more patience now, but I can come home after working elsewhere (and getting some error messages about missing drive), and things sync back up. I do have an automator script that mounts the drives when I first log in, but that’s it. Everything else I leave to the OS to mange.

      3. I’m using a free app called TimeMachineEditor ( that I have setup to run my backups every 6 hours instead of every hour. I don’t need the hourly updates, and also with my laptop going “offline” from the network off and on, this seems to resolve the issue constant “Backup failure” messages. When I get back home, I either manually kick off a new backup, or wait for the next scheduled backup and things are back in sync again (because of #2 above).

      Maybe it’s worthwhile to change a couple things to mimic what I have going on above and see if that helps.

  34. Hi. I’m running mavericks and have never been able to get the router to recognise the attached USB drive. I followed your instructions to format the drive in MS fat but the option to create as a DOS start up disk was greyed out. Does the router only recognise the drive if it has this option ticked? Any other suggestions as to why I can’t see the drive connected in the router interface? Chris

    1. Hmm, that is a little odd. Did you try clicking the “Refresh” button a few times in the Netgear router config to see if that helped? How big are your partitions/drive. There were issues other people have found based on the size of the drive/partition itself. I believe that to set the Master Boot Record option I had to select the partition name and then click “Options” Sometimes this involved clicking the other partition and then back on the drive I was working with.

      Those are a few ideas off the top of my head. Hopefully one of them will help.

        1. How big is your physical disk? There were some comments above about there being a physical 2TB limit to the physical disk in order for the partitions to function properly.

  35. Thanks so much for these well-done instructions! I’d been struggling with this and nowhere else found the answer. Finally, problem solved. Thank you!

  36. Thank you so much. After frustratingly following the netgear instructions without success I was delighted to follow yours and it worked first shot. The little application to mount the drive when logging in – brilliant. Thank you!

  37. I know I’m a bit late to the party. But, any thoughts on how to best approach my externals already housing loads of data? I have a 1TB Hammer that I use to store all my photos/movies etc. and I have a 3TB Seagate that I use as my Time Machine. I had them physically connected, but would like to create a personal cloud using ReadySHARE to share it across my machines.

    1. Greetings Tyler,

      From what we’ve deduced in the ongoing discussions here, you’re limited to a physical 2TB disk in order to do your backups. I forget exactly who is to blame for that, but that’s the limit.

      The best bet would be to transfer your Time Machine disk over to your 1TB partition (if it will fit) and then go through the steps to get things setup. I’m not sure if your external drive is formatted in Fat32 or not. If not, then you’ll need to reformat, and then transfer the backup image over.

  38. Was trying to setup timemachine via readyshare for the office and this was a big help. The workaround works great for me because I need to do 4 different computers onto one network drive – I created four partitions with four different images on them. One thing to note, I did have to add quotations around “/Volumes/Disk Image” to get it to mount in TimeMachine.

  39. What about Yosemite? I was able to get it up and running, but then I lost the connection to the TimeMachine image even without a log out. Any advice?

    Or could I have done this in another way without the disk image? Would that have worked with Yosemite?

  40. Even though I can read from the readyshare device I can’t write. The permissions see to be open. It seem “Leon” also had the same issue.

    1. Hmmm, a couple of things to check. Did you make sure that the sharing settings in the readyshare admin are set that everyone can access the drive? You might also check the drive settings via OSX and make sure read/write is set to everybody

  41. Things have been quiet on this front but I wanted to weigh in. Unable to get Yosemite Time Machine to ever see the readyshare no matter how I formatted. Plus, the ability to choose “sparse bundle” is gone in Yosemite….the only image format options I see are compressed, read-only, read/write and DVD/CD master.On the plus side, I am able to use it as a place to store my media files for streaming to Plex. This is with the EX6200 Wifi Extender model.

    1. Not sure. I had moved to a different router but am now back on this one, so I will try to go through the steps again to verify. If you get there before me, please make sure to comment and I can update accordingly.

  42. Okay. I did it and it seems to be working. I followed the Mavericks section in the Terminal and used a SMB connection. I restarted after following your ScriptEditor addition and it’s working. Thank you so much for providing this tutorial!

  43. Majorly confusing in El Capitan… I’ve been at it for 2 days with every possible combination of settings. The best I can get is “Incompatible file system type: smbfs (error 45)” in Terminal when trying to set the backup destination. Help me please! Before I have no hair left

      1. Yes it shows up on the desktop. The only difference is there’s no FAT32 option in the Disk Utility, only FAT and exFAT. I’ve tried both.

        1. Oof… I see that now. I hadn’t dug into the new tool. It says ExFAT are supposed to be for drives over 32GB,so I would suspect it to work. How big is your drive?

          1. It’s a 3TB Seagate. The only format I haven’t tried is NTFS, which I believe cannot be written on by Macs without special software?

  44. First off thanks for this writeup. I am also trying to get this working on El Capitan. First hurdle right out of the shoot is the new Disk Utility will not allow me to format my external HDD as FAT32 with partitions. The partition option is grayed out. Any ideas?

      1. I misspoke earlier. I CAN select partition on the main drive, but the partition page has everything grayed out. It won’t let me do any partitioning. I may have found a way around it though. I reformatted as Mac OS X Journaled and partitioned the drive (in my case into 3 partitions). Then I reformatted only the Time Machine partition to FAT32. Everything seems to be working so far. Time Machine is backing up to that partition. I’ll report back if anything goes haywire.

          1. Jon, the actual name that Disk Utility uses is MS-DOS (FAT). I tried ExFat first but my router would not read it that way. The MS-DOS (FAT) option worked for me.

          2. Thanks for the info James B. Hopefully that will work for you Jon. In addition. If memory serves there is actually a 2TB limit to the FAT partition, so for a 3TB drive you’re going to have to split partitions. Mine was a 2TB drive that I split in half

          3. James you are a life saver. Works a treat! I’m playing around with the “Automator” app in El Capitan to make a start up application to re-mount the drive. Will let you know how it goes

          4. Dillie-O, your script in the follow-up post seems to work fine in El Capitan. There may be a better way to make the startup application using that “Automator” application in El Capitan, but I can’t figure it out haha.

  45. The next hurdle is how to make this all work while sleeping. I have PowerNap turned on and I left it overnight plugged in, but no backups took place even though Time Machine is said to work while sleeping via PowerNap. It may have something to do with the extra step of mounting the image. Any ideas?

    1. That could very well be. From what I remember time machine still doesn’t officially support network backups, so you’d have to figure out how to keep the network drive mounted even while napping. Some kind of caffeine type app for that?

  46. Oh. My. Goodness. You are a lifesaver! I had tried following other setup guides that were too simplistic, as the router does not recognize when you simply format a hard drive in OS Journaled. Having the extra steps of creating an Image that was journaled on top of an MS-DOS partition, and then using the terminal window to actually set it up were the two extra steps I needed. Thank you so much!

  47. Hi, so i have been doing a lot of research on setting up time machine backups to my external WD hard drive which is connected to my nether router. I am trying to follow your steps from the beginning but when i try to erase the HDD and set it up using MBR MS-DOS it won’t allow me to partition the drive after that. However when i set it up as GUID it does let me partition it later. Please help

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