On the MacBook Pro which I use at work to manage approximately 300 iPads , I decided to upgrade to OSX Yosemite (10.10) when it was released, only to find the OSX Yosemite Time Machine backups were not working properly after the upgrade completed!

Time machine was working perfectly fine with OSX 10.9 Mavericks , but after the upgrade I was left unable to browse through any of my Time Machine backups , and attempting to create a new backup would simply freeze forever at the “Waiting To Complete First Backup” message.

As you can imagine , this left me quite nervous ……. if the hard drive crashed I’d have to re-supervise and re-configure every single iPad (they get “tied” to the one Mac that is used to manage them)

Furthermore, the Time Machine preferences window would report the correct amount of drive space had been used on the drive (so it looked like it had backed up) , but the “Date Of Last Backup” wouldn’t change.

Seeing as the only use for this particular external hard drive that I was using was for the Time Machine backups , I thought I would just reformat the drive with Disk Utility and start from scratch ….. No such luck!

Even after reformatting the external hard drive (so it was completely blank) , Something was still causin the backups to break. It would copy all the files to the drive and then hang at “Waiting To Complete First Backup” . Attempting to browse the backup using  Time Machine resulted in an error message, and the files weren’t accessible. (I tried both encrypted and non-encrypted Time Machine backups – Same issue!)

This seems to be a pretty common occurrence, with many people reporting exactly the same issue on the Apple Support forums and elsewhere around the internet. I searched every where for a fix ………. and finally came up with a solution!

How to finally fix your broken OSX Yosemite Time Machine backups once and for all …..

Note: You may need to do all of the steps below, only several of them, or perhaps only even 1. This is everything I did and the problem was resolved but some of the steps may not be necessary.

  1. Format the hard drive you want to use for Time Machine in Disk Utility. Apple has a great tutorial on how to do this here. Just have 1 partition on the drive.
  2. Go to System Preferences > Time Machine and turn Time Machine OFF by clicking the switch on the left.
  3. Load up Finder and click on “Go” from the top menu bar. Then click “Go to Folder” (It’s near the bottom)
  4. Type /Library/Preferences and click “Go”
  5. In the window that appears, find the file named com.apple.TimeMachine.plist and delete it (Move to trash)
  6. Restart your Mac
  7. After the Mac has restarted, go back into System Preferences > Time Machine
  8. Switch Time Machine back to ON
  9. Click “Select Disk” and choose your external hard drive which you formatted in step 1.
  10. The Time Machine backup should begin after a 120 second countdown , or you may start it manually by clicking the Time Machine icon in the Menu bar and selecting “Back Up Now”
  11. The first backup will take a while as it copies the whole contents of your Mac to the drive. When it’s finished this time however , it shouldn’t hang on the “Waiting To Complete First Backup” message. Instead you should get a message like the one below.
  12. Time Machine now correctly reports the “Date Of Last Backup” , and all your future backups will work properly and be able to be browsed for recovery!

Note: Only the first backup takes a long time due to everything being copied to the Time Machine drive. All subsequent backups just back up files which have changed since the last backup , so are therefore much quicker than the initial backup.