How to Fix Time Machine Stuck on Preparing Backup

How to Solve Time Machine Stuck on Preparing Backup

Is your Time Machine preparing backup since forever? Diagnose this issue and learn different ways to fix the Time Machine stuck on preparing backup right here.

Jul 20, 2020 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

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Time machine preparing backup

If you are a regular Mac user, then you might already be familiar with Time Machine. It is a native Mac application that lets us backup our drive and restores our data afterward. Though, while preparing backup on Time Machine, some users encounter that the application takes a lot of time to process. Chances are that Time Machine might be stuck on preparing backup stage as well. Don’t worry – the Time Machine preparing backup stuck is a mild issue that can easily be fixed. In this guide, I’m going to tell you what to do if your Time Machine is also stuck on preparing backup stage.

Part 1: Overview of Time Machine Preparing Backup Issu

You might already know that Time Machine is an inbuilt application in Mac that is used to backup data or restore it later on. For this, we use an external hard disk that stores the backup content and a log of how the content is maintained. In this way, you can replicate the entire disk on the Time Machine drive.

Ideally, the time taken by Time Machine to prepare the disk’s backup would depend on various factors. For instance, the type of the disk used, its storage, the data types, the amount of content to backup, the processing of your Mac, etc. are some of these factors. Depending on these factors, the time taken by Time Machine to prepare its backup would vary. If you think that the Time Machine preparing backup is taking too long, then it can be due to the following reasons:

Time machine preparing backup


Part 2: How to Fix Time Machine Stuck on Preparing Backup?

Since there can be different reasons for the Time Machine preparing backup to get stuck, you can try either of these solutions to fix it.

Fix 1: Restart the Backup Process

To start with, I’m going to list the easiest solution to fix the Mac’s Time Machine preparing backup problem. If you know there is no other issue with your Mac, then you can just stop the backup process as of now and restart it later on.

While preparing backup on Time Machine, you can see a cross button adjacent to the progress bar. Just click on it to stop Time Machine from preparing backup. Now, close the Time Machine application and disconnect your external device. Restart your Mac now and try to take your backup later on.

Time machine preparing backup

Fix 2: Get Rid of the inProgress File

This is one of the most common solutions to fix the Time Machine stuck at preparing backup issue that you can implement on any Mac. The inProgress file maintains a log of the current data, but sometimes it can clash with the operations of the Time Machine. Therefore, to fix the preparing backup on Time Machine stuck, you can simply trash this file.

Step 1. Just launch Finder on your Mac and go to the Time Machine drive to open the Backups.backupd folder.

Step 2. Now, navigate to the folder of the present backup and look for the “inProgress” file from the List View or the search.

Step 3. That’s it! Once you find the inProgress file (it will have a timestamp as its name), you can just remove it from the folder and try to take your backup again.

Time machine preparing backup

Fix 3: Disable Third-party Security Apps

If you have installed a third-party anti-virus or anti-malware application on your Mac, then it can also cause unwanted issues like these. The good news is that if a third-party security app has caused Time Machine to stuck on preparing backup, then you can easily fix it. Just launch the security application on your Mac and go to its settings. From here, you can disable the anti-virus function entirely or halt it for the time being.

Time machine preparing backup

Once you have disabled it, you can relaunch Time Machine and try to take a backup of your drive again.

Fix 4: Stop Spotlight from Indexing the Time Machine Operations

Just like Time Machine, Spotlight is also an inbuilt feature in Mac that lets us look for our content and apps easily. To do that, Spotlight keeps indexing the Mac components in the background. Though, if it would also keep doing that for Time Machine while it takes a backup, then it can get stuck on the preparing backup screen. Therefore, to fix the Time Machine preparing backup stuck problem, you can stop Spotlight from indexing it.

Step 1. Firstly, click on the Apple icon from the top-left corner and go to the System Preferences > Spotlight option.

Step 2. Once the Spotlight Preferences window would be opened, go to the Privacy tab from here. This will list various apps and processes that are not indexed by Spotlight.

Step 3. Now, to add Time Machine as an exception, click on the “+” icon from the bottom. From the list of the apps, select Time Machine and save your changes.

Time machine preparing backup

This will prevent Spotlight from indexing the Time Machine data and logs. You can now restart your system and try to take its backup via Time Machine.

Fix 5: Repair the Time Machine Drive

Chances are that there could be an issue with the external hard disk that you are using to backup your data. In this case, you can take the assistance of Mac’s Disk Utility to fix your hard disk in the following way.

Step 1. Firstly, go to Finder > Applications > Utility and launch the Disk Utility application on your Mac. Make sure that the external hard disk is already linked to your Mac.

Step 2. Now, select the external hard disk from the sidebar and click on the “First Aid” button from the toolbar on the right.

Step 3. Just confirm your choice and wait for a while as the application would try to fix the connected drive.

Time machine preparing backup

Fix 6: Update your Mac’s Firmware

Last, but not the least, chances are that you could be using an outdated macOS version on your system. This can automatically make its apps run slow and might cause issues like Time Machine stuck at preparing backup. To fix it, just click on the Apple logo from the top-left corner of Finder and select the “Software Update” feature. This will open a dedicated window, letting you check for updates and install it on your Mac system.

Time machine preparing backup

Bonus Tip: Consider a Time Machine Alternative

If the Time Machine is stuck on preparing backup since forever, then you can consider using an alternative instead. For instance, you can connect an external hard disk, SD card, or a USB drive to your Mac. Now, you can manually copy some important files to the connected device to take their backup.

Besides that, you can also use iCloud to sync your data or any other cloud-based services like Google Drive or Dropbox to save your file. There are also dedicated applications like AOMEI backup software to help you backup and restore your Mac data easily.


Part 3: How to Recover Lost Mac Files Without Backup?

One of the major reasons why users take a backup of their data is to maintain its second copy and access it in any data loss scenario. Well, if you haven’t taken a backup of your data yet and have lost it nevertheless, then you can use a data recovery tool. For instance, with the help of Wondershare Recoverit, you can easily get back all kinds of lost, deleted, and inaccessible data from your Mac.

The application supports the recovery of almost every data type like photos, videos, music, documents, and even lets us preview our files beforehand. It can help you restore data lost under all the major scenarios like accidental deletion, Trash recovery, data loss from an external device, disk-related issues, and more. Once Recoverit is installed, you can follow these steps to restore your data.

Step 1: Select where you lost your data from

To start with, you can just launch Recoverit on your Mac and select a drive or partition to scan from its home. Additionally, you can also select an external hard drive or browse to selected folders to scan too.

mac data recovery

Step 2: Scan and wait for your data to be extracted

After starting the process, you can simply wait for a few minutes for it to get over. You can view the progress from an on-screen indicator and even stop the process in between.

mac scanning lost files

There is also an option to filter the results here. You can use the filter icon to handpick results on the basis of your file type, size, last modification date, and so on.

mac filter recovered files

Step 3: Preview and save your files

That’s it! In the end, you can just preview your files like your photos, videos, documents, etc. on the interface. Now, select what you wish to save and click on the “Recover” button to save your files to a trusted location.

mac photo recovery


Part 4: How to Prevent Time Machine Stuck on Preparing Backup?

I’m sure that after following this guide, you would be able to fix the Time Machine stuck on preparing backup issue. Though, if you don’t want to encounter the problem in the future, then consider following these steps:

There you go! After reading this guide, you would be able to fix the Time Machine stuck on preparing backup issue for sure. I have come up with a wide range of methods that you can implement if your Time Machine gets stuck while preparing backup. Though, if you don’t have a backup of your data and have lost some important files, then just use Recoverit Data Recovery. A user-friendly and professional Mac data recovery tool, it can help you get back all sorts of lost and deleted content in a jiffy.

Sue Wayne

staff Editor

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