Time Machine Couldn't Complete the Backup

Time Machine is a backup utility introduced by Apple that automatically creates backups of files on Mac computers. It is an essential tool for data safety and provides users with peace of mind knowing that their important files are protected. However, sometimes users may encounter the frustrating problem of "Time Machine couldn't complete the backup." In this article, we will explore the possible causes of this issue, troubleshoot the problem, discuss preventive measures, and explore alternative backup solutions. Read More: Time Machine Backup

17 mar 2021

Causes of the Problem

There can be several reasons why Time Machine fails to complete a backup. Understanding these causes can help users troubleshoot the issue effectively. Here are some potential reasons:

1. Insufficient Storage Space

One common cause of failed backups is insufficient storage space for the backup files. Time Machine requires ample free space to create and update backups. If the backup drive is full, Time Machine won't be able to complete the backup process.

2. Network Issues

Time Machine allows users to backup their files wirelessly over the network. However, network connectivity issues can pose obstacles to successful backups. Weak Wi-Fi signals, network interruptions, or problems with the network configuration can all result in failed backups.

3. Corrupted Files

Corrupted files or file permissions can cause Time Machine backups to fail. If a file is damaged or has incorrect permissions, Time Machine may encounter errors and fail to complete the backup.

4. Incompatibility Problems

Sometimes, incompatibility issues can arise between the Mac operating system and the backup drive format. Time Machine requires the backup drive to use the macOS Extended (HFS+) or the newer APFS file system. If the backup drive uses a different file system or isn't properly formatted, Time Machine may fail to complete the backup.

How to Troubleshoot

When faced with the issue of "Time Machine couldn't complete the backup," there are several troubleshooting steps that can be followed to resolve the problem. Here is a step-by-step guide:

1. Verifying and Repairing the Backups

Using the Disk Utility, users can verify and repair their Time Machine backups. This helps identify and resolve any potential disk issues that may be causing the backup failure.

2. Checking the Disk Permissions

Incorrect disk permissions can lead to backup errors. Verifying and repairing the disk permissions can fix such issues. This can be done through the Disk Utility or by using Terminal commands.

3. Deleting the .inProgress File

Sometimes, a failed or interrupted backup can leave behind an incomplete .inProgress file. Deleting this file can resolve the issue and allow Time Machine to start a fresh backup.

4. Resetting Time Machine

Resetting Time Machine settings can also help troubleshoot backup failures. This involves removing the current backup drive and adding it again to Time Machine preferences. This step ensures a fresh connection between Time Machine and the backup drive.

Preventive Measures

To avoid encountering the problem of incomplete Time Machine backups in the future, it is important to take preventive measures. Here are some suggestions:

1. Regularly Update Operating Systems

Keeping the macOS and Time Machine software up to date is crucial for optimal performance. Updates often include bug fixes, improvements, and compatibility enhancements, reducing the chances of backup failures.

2. Periodic Disk Check-ups

Regularly checking the health and integrity of the backup drive is essential. Scan the disk for errors, bad sectors, and any potential issues. This can be done using third-party disk utility software or the built-in macOS Disk Utility.

3. Adequate Storage Allocation

To ensure successful backups, allocate enough storage space for Time Machine. Consider the size of the files to be backed up and allow for sufficient overhead space. Regularly monitor the available space to prevent backups from failing due to storage limitations.

Alternatives to Time Machine

While Time Machine is a reliable backup solution, some users may prefer exploring alternative options. Here are a few alternatives to Time Machine:

  • Slik Safe: Slik Safe is a comprehensive backup solution that offers end-to-end encryption for enhanced data security. Learn more about Slik Safe and its features on their website.


In summary, the problem of "Time Machine couldn't complete the backup" can be caused by factors such as insufficient storage space, network issues, corrupted files, and incompatibility problems. Troubleshooting steps, including verifying and repairing backups, checking disk permissions, deleting .inProgress files, and resetting Time Machine, can help resolve the issue. To prevent future backup failures, it is important to regularly update operating systems, perform disk check-ups, and allocate adequate storage space. Additionally, alternative backup solutions like Slik Safe can provide users with additional options for data protection.


Having a regular and successful backup is crucial for ensuring the safety of important files. Despite the occasional issues encountered with Time Machine, understanding the causes and implementing the suggested troubleshooting steps can help users overcome the problem of incomplete backups. By following preventive measures and exploring alternative backup solutions like Slik Safe, users can have the peace of mind that their data is securely backed up and protected.

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