Time Machine: Backup failed with error: 11

I've been using Time Machine since installing Leopard, keeping my hourly/daily/weekly backups on the 250G Lacie drive that saved me back in October. It works well, though I've never needed to use it. Lately, it's been doing some unusually large backups which I was having trouble explaining, but otherwise things were going fine. Until this:
Jan 11 21:32:56 ralph mds[35]: (Error) Backup: doBackupIndexFile could not stat backup location /sw/share/terminfo/w/wyse160-vb /Volumes/Lacie Backup/Backups.backupdb/ralph/2008-01-10
-8F96-8F0A0A4170E8/Macintosh HD/sw/share/
terminfo/w/wyse160-vb. Error 2 with uid 0

Jan 11 21:32:56 ralph /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[1703]: MDBackupIndexFile returned -1101 for: /sw/share/terminfo/w/wyse160-vb, /Volumes/Lacie Backup/Backups.backupdb/ralph/2008-01-10
-8F96-8F0A0A4170E8/Macintosh HD/sw/share/

Jan 11 21:32:56 ralph /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[1703]: Aborting backup because MDBackupIndexFile failed
Jan 11 21:32:56 ralph /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[1703]: Canceling backup.
Jan 11 21:32:56 ralph /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[1703]: Copied 21765 files (39 KB) from volume Macintosh HD.
Jan 11 21:32:56 ralph /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[1703]: Copy stage failed with error:11
Jan 11 21:33:00 ralph /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd[1703]: Backup failed with error: 11

I repeated the backup several times with similar results. Google was minimally helpful, though I did work through some of what Sven-S. Porst describes in his article "X.5 Time Warp 2". Specifically, I tried deleting (or, actually, renaming) the Spotlight Stores folder corresponding to Backups.backupdb and running mdimport on /Volumes/Lacie Backup/Backups.backupdb. Didn't help. Interestingly, the backup was failing on a different file every time, but my patience was exhausted.

I hadn't used Time Machine to recover anything, and its incremental backups were becoming unusually large lately—so I wiped the external disk and started from scratch.


  1. Hi Graham,

    How could you distinguish the corrupted backups?

  2. I forced Spotlight to re-index the boot drive and changed the name of the machine under System Preferences >Sharing and removed an apostrophe. I read in an Apple forum that doing that fixed the problem for many users. I also re-initialized the external boot disk (again) and trashed Time Machine's preferences (other people reported that helping too).

    But no go for me, after about 4 GBs I'm still getting the same error. I did think about repairing disk permissions and I keep running it again and again using Disk Utility and it keeps finding the same errors. I imagine for this to be successful I would need to boot from the Leopard install disk and run Repair permissions using Disk Utility while booted from the install disk?

    Any other suggestions?

  3. I booted from the install disk and ran repair permissions. It showed the same errors. Then I ran repair disk and it showed no errors. Then I ran repair permissions again and it showed no errors that time. I booted from the internal disk again, repartitioned the drive again as one GUID partition (Mac OS Extended Journaled) and tried to back up again and it failed again. I'm at a loss.

    I know the drive is suspect because it's old and noisy (early sign of failure), but it shows up OK with Disk Utility and Drive Genius. Plus, other users report starting with brand-new drives and they're getting the same errors and I'm afraid of spending money on a drive only to get the same errors.

    Any other suggestions?

  4. There were some good posts on the Apple discussion forums that I read a little while. But now Apple has deleted all posts that talk about problems with Time Machine. This is rather strange. There is something very evil going on inside Apple. They also deleted another post of mine on their forums because I said that Apple seem to be neglecting their MAC users for the iPhone. Let's be honest guys... when after 6 months, they still have not fixed a simple bug such as Mail.app not hiding when launched on startup, there are some serious problems with Leopard & Apple...

  5. http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=6931702#6931702

    This topic is still up. In it I detail how I was FINALLY able to get a successful backup without having to exclude anything.

    Good luck all!

  6. I just encountered the same error 11, but I immediately tried running an manual backup and it backed up successfully.

  7. I've been getting that error intermittently, but only just lately. The backup will work sometimes and not other times.

    I do see one "in progress" backup file on the external drive. I'm going to try deleting that and see if it helps.

  8. I am having the same problem - but it's an internal WD drive inside my Mac Pro. Brand new drive that was included with my Mac Pro when I bought it.

    I tried formatting, starting from scratch, etc. and it worked OK for a couple days and started up again.

    I get an "error: (-43)" then

    "copy stage failed with error: 11"

    "Backup failed with error 11"

  9. I recently had the logic board replaced on my MBP (by Apple under warranty) and while my external Maxtor is recognized by the finder, TM will not back up to the drive. All of my incremental backups are visible in the finder, but I get the "Failed" message and in TM preferences the external drive is listed and greyed out under exclusions. The TM backup was most useful during my period of repair (I was able to access all of my necessary files), and I don't want to trash the data if possible. Next stop 1-800-SOS-APPL...

  10. For the original post - I got the sam e error but it came from the fact that had more data to back up than what was available on the drive. So, I unchecked 'porn' and 'music' and everything was fine.

  11. I, too had the same error and was able to solve it without doing anything drastic. Firstly, the trick was to understand what file / files was causing TimeMachine to choke. Here's what I did:

    Open Terminal (Applications/Utilities/Terminal)

    Change directory to /var/log by typing:
    cd /var/log

    We want the system.log. No need to start searching from the beginning, look at the end of the log. To do this enter: tail system.log

    If you see a TimeMachine error, great! if not, run TimeMachine now. Wait until it errors.

    Enter !! in Terminal to view the end of the log. (!! repeats the last command)

    For me. TimeMachine aborted with " Error: (-36) SrcErr:YES Copying ... Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/0heukrnj.default/urlclassifier2.sqlite to (null)" The problem was with this file used by FireFox.

    I decided to delete my install of FireFox

    Ran a backup of Time Machine.

    Waited until backup finished.

    !! in the Terminal window again. Saw "Backup completed successfully."

    I'm a happy camper! (Although if TM had choked on another file, I'd just repeat the process.

  12. I have found a way to limit Time Machine errors is to just have it back up the Users and the Library folder on the root of your main hard disk.

  13. In my case the bug was a rights management issue in the /System/Library/ folder.


  14. to resolve this issue, i opened console, pressed 'open log list' expanded files and selected system.log. I then manually started a time machine backup. the error 11 showed and it also showed there was a problem backing up my thunderbird profile. opened time machine preferences, excluded my thunderbird account 'documents>Thunderbird'. restarted the manual backup and no errors.

  15. Hello. i was also having the same issue but Long Path Tool helped me in this situation. You can see here PathTooDeep.com. It might help you.
    Thanks and Regards,


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