Backup and Restore Time Machine using Synology and the B2 Cloud

By | March 16th, 2017

B2 Cloud Storage, Time Machine, and Synology NAS
Have you ever wished that you could have Time Machine, your Synology NAS, and B2 Cloud Storage work together to automatically backup your Mac locally and to the cloud? That would be cool. Of course, you’d also want to be able to restore your Time Machine backup from your Synology NAS or the B2 cloud. And while you’re wishing, it would be great if you could have an encrypted USB Hard Drive show up at your doorstep with your Time Machine backup. Stop wishing! You can do all that today. Here’s how.

Overview

Apple’s Time Machine app, included with every Mac, creates automatic backups of your Mac computer. Typically, these backups are stored on a local external hard drive. Time Machine backups can also be stored on other devices such as a Network Attached Storage (NAS) system on your network. If your computer crashes or you get a new computer, you can restore your data from the Time Machine backup.

We advocate a “3-2-1” backup strategy that combines local storage like a Time Machine backup with offsite backup to provide an additional layer of security and redundancy. That’s 3 copies of your data: 2 local (your “live” version and your Time Machine backup), and 1 offsite. If something happens to your computer or your NAS – if they’re stolen, or if some sort of disaster strikes – you can still count on your cloud backup to keep you safe.

You can use Backblaze to back up your computer to the cloud and use Time Machine to create a local backup. In fact, many of our customers do exactly that. But there’s another way to approach this that’s more efficient: Make a copy of the Time Machine backup and send it offsite automatically.

A Streamlined 3-2-1 Backup Plan

diagram of automatic backup of your Mac locally and to the cloud

The idea is simple: Have Time Machine store its backup on your Synology NAS device, then sync the Time Machine backup from the Synology NAS to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage. Once this is set up, the 3-2-1 backup process occurs automatically and your files are stored locally and off-site.

We’ve prepared a guide titled “How to backup your Time Machine backup to Synology and B2” in the Backblaze Knowledge Base to help you with the setup of Time Machine, Synology, and Backblaze B2. Please read through the instructions before starting the actual installation.

Restoring Your Time Machine Backup

The greatest backup process in the world is of little value if you can’t restore your data. With your Time Machine backup now stored on your Synology NAS and in B2, you have multiple ways to restore your files.

Day-to-day Restores

From time to time you may need to restore a file or two from your local backup, in this case, your Time Machine backup stored on your Synology NAS. This works just like having your Time Machine backup stored on a locally connected external hard drive:

  • On the Mac menu bar (top right) locate and click on the Time Machine icon.
  • Select “Enter Time Machine”.
  • Locate the file or files you wish to restore.
  • Click “Restore” to restore the selected file(s).

The only thing to remember is that your Synology NAS device needs to be accessible via your network to access the Time Machine backup.

Full Restores

Most often you would do a full restore of your Time Machine backup if you are replacing your computer or the hard/SSD drive inside.

Method 1: Restore from the Synology NAS device

The most straight-forward method is to restore the Time Machine backup directly from the Synology NAS device. You can restore your entire Time Machine backup to your new or reformatted Mac by having Apple’s Migration Assistant app use the Time Machine backup stored on the Synology NAS as the restore source. The Migration Assistant app is included with your Mac.

Of course, in the case of a disaster or theft, the Synology NAS may suffer the same fate as your Mac. In that case, you’ll want to restore your Time Machine backup from Backblaze B2, here’s how.

Method 2: Restore a Time Machine Backup from B2 via a USB Hard Drive

The second method is to prepare a B2 snapshot of your Time Machine backup and then have the snapshot copied to a USB hard drive you purchase from Backblaze. Think of a snapshot as a container that holds a copy of the files you wish to download. Instead of downloading each file individually, you create a snapshot of the files and download one item, the snapshot. In this case, you create the snapshot of your Time Machine backup, and we copy the snapshot to the hard drive and FedEx it to you. You then use the USB Hard Drive as a restore source when using Migration Assistant.

Method 2: Restore a Time Machine backup from B2 via USB hard drive

We’ve prepared a guide titled, “How to restore your Time Machine backup from B2” in the Backblaze Knowledge Base to walk you through the process of restoring your Time Machine backup from Backblaze B2 using an encrypted USB Hard Drive.

Method 3: Restore a Time Machine Backup from B2 via Download

When using this method, give consideration to the size of the Time Machine backup. It is not uncommon for this file to be several hundred gigabytes or even a terabyte or two. Even with the reasonably fast network connection downloading such a large file can take a considerable amount of time.

Prepare a snapshot of your Time Machine backup from B2 and download it to your “new” Mac. After you “unzip” the file you can use Migration Assistant on your new Mac to restore the Time Machine backup using the unzipped file as the restore source.

Method 3: Restore a Time Machine backup from B2 via download

Summary

As we noted earlier, you can use Backblaze Computer Backup to backup your computer to the cloud and use Time Machine to create a local backup. That works fine, but if you are using a Synology NAS device in your environment, the 3-2-1 strategy discussed above gives you another option. In that case, all of the Time Machine backups in your home or office can reside on the Synology NAS. Then you don’t need an external drive to store the Time Machine backup for each computer and all of the Time Machine backups can sync automatically to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage.

In summary, if you have a Mac, a Synology NAS, and a Backblaze B2 account you can have an automatic 3-2-1 Time Machine backup of the files on your computer. You don’t have to drag and drop files into backup folders, remember to hit the “backup now” button, or hoard backup external USB drives in your closet. Enjoy automatic, continuous backup, locally and in the cloud. 3-2-1 backup has never been so easy.

Andy Klein

Andy Klein

Andy has 20+ years experience in technology marketing. He has shared his expertise in computer security and data backup at the Federal Trade Commission, Rootstech, RSA and over 100 other events. His current passion is to get everyone to back up their data before it's too late.
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  • Zhang Mike

    There is no Time Machine in current DSM version any more.

    • flosofl

      There certainly is. I just purchased a DS914+ and I’m using it for Time Machine with zero issues. Running the latest DSM (6.1.3-15152 Update 3)

      The setting is under Bonjour in the Advanced Tab for File Services. There are two options to advertise Time Machine services via Bonjour (AFP and SMB). You also define which shared folder to use for the Time Machine backups.

  • Gregory Scott Nelson

    This looks like a useful solution. Have you had any experience with co-locating dropbox or citrix sharefile on the nas device and syncing those to the cloud backup service? i realize that dropbox is a cloud solution but not liking to put things in one proverbial basket, i like this solution. Do you have a support line for pre-sales questions specific to the Synology integration and choices?

  • Tim

    Is this really advisable considering how frequently time machine backups tend to just kind of.. corrupt themselves / the sparse bundle after they grow fairly large? If that occurs, you’ve still got a single point of failure, which isn’t a true 3-2-1 solution.

    • Dr_John_H

      Good point, I’ve had time machine with my time capsule fail frequently.

  • By analogy to an electrical circuit, the backup scheme you’re outlining here might be described as being “wired” in series, rather than in parallel. In other words, rather than backing up primary source “A” directly to backup stores “B1” and “B2”, you’re suggesting backing up from primary “A” to secondary store “B”, and then from “B” to tertiary store “C”. It’s interesting to consider the practical differences between the two schemes.

    Of course, the serial approach need not involve a NAS device; secondary store “B” (where Time Machine maintains its backup database) could just as well be locally-attached storage—indeed, even a partition on the same physical volume being used used as primary source “A”. Until Apple ships APFS, which is supposed to have full file versioning baked right in, this might be a viable approach to enjoying frequent, low-latency, immediately-accessible local file versioning, while largely avoiding the “eggs-in-one-basket” failure vulnerability of having “A” and “B” on the same volume. Thoughts?

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  • fabiopedrosa

    Backblaze is not responsible for Synology implementation, but could maybe test the solution before hand, because at the the moment there are lots of reports of B2 plugin errors/bugs.

    • nilayp

      (Nilay from Backblaze here.)
      Fabio – what did you run into? We’ve tested this end-to-end with Synology with success. In addition, we use CloudSync with B2 for our Fireball service and it has worked flawlessly. I wonder if some of the reports you’ve seen are old? Reports that were sent in during the Cloudsync/B2 beta phase?

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  • That’s OK with Synology and Time machine, but if it can facilitate to split the libraries into a few ones just like here https://www.baculasystems.com/blog/page/4 in case of the bank of Austria? Something we could provide a few back up system to the company, but at the same doesn’t require one person in charge of each library? One person controlling all the back up systems through one monitor just like a guard looking at a screen with surveillance cameras?

  • ds2800

    Does all this still apply with Synology 6.1? I don’t see Enable Mac File Service in file settings with this version.

    l aready have Time Machine shared folder created so can’t seem to limit size to 3.5TB. Thanks.

    • Andy Klein

      For Synology related questions, you’ll have to ask their support organization. They have reviewed the instructions we posted, but as you point out they are for 6.0.

    • nilayp

      Sorry for the delay in responding… This absolutely does work with DSM 6.1. In fact, it works better than 6.0! With DSM 6.1, you can create multiple Time Machine shares. The configuration has moved to Control Panel->File Services->Advanced->Bonjour. You can enable Time Machine on SMB or AFP shares. We’ll update the blog shortly.

    • flosofl

      I know this is late. What I did was enable Time Machine service advertisement under Bonjour (as described by user nilayp here) and assign the shared folder to use.

      To limit the size, I created a user specifically for Time Machine and enforcing a quota. Time Machine can use that ID to access the Time Machine share, and you can still authenticate as another user for Finder access your Synology.

  • Dennis Schulz

    It would be so great if I could create a backup from our QNAP TS-563 to B2. I tried contacting QNAP without great success. Can you help @Backblaze team?

    • Andy Klein

      We have spoken with QNAP about an integration to B2, but they have to do the integration, it is not up to us. Hopefully there will be an integration soon.

  • DanniBoy

    I use Acronis backup on my Windows 10 setup, along with a Synology NAS, and was wondering how I could set it up to act in the same way as you describe above. An article describing how to do this would be very helpful…

    • nilayp

      (Nilay from Backblaze here.)
      What Acronis backup client are you using? We’d love to test it and see if it will work too!

      • DanniBoy

        I use Acronis True Image 2017 at the moment.

        • nilayp

          Thanks! We will give it a try.

          • DanniBoy

            That would be great!