Help - I cannot restore WD My Book Live Time Machine backup to a different mac!

I guess the WD My Book Live 2Tb Network Storage device is old - I couldn’t find an area in this forum that exactly corresponds to it, but…
my wife’s iMac has been using Time Machine to back up files to network storage - everything seemed fine until the iMac died and we suddenly need to get those backed up files on another mac, a laptop, on the same local area network. the macbook can see the TimeMachine exported area in general, but I see no way at all to access the files backed up from the other computer, just files it would have backed up from the laptop. I can also see the directories on a linux computer but there is no way they can be made sense of other than using the proper software.
What do I do??


Please refer to the following KBA article: (Move your content to a new Mac - Apple Support) for more information you can contact apple support.

Thank you. There was a succession of problems (not WD’s fault), but in case anybody else has the same problem the issues are:

  1. The format of Time Machine backups totally changed with the MacOS Catalina release, and if another Mac (or, in my case, the same Mac) has an earlier version it might see that the WD My Book is there but no existing backups are present that can be restored, so no option is given to restore, and no clue as to why there is no option! That took a while to diagnose.

  2. The reason my Mac was using an earlier version was that I had to first restore the same version this old 2012 machine came with, then another version that can be upgraded, then Catalina. Even in the end, the installation process of Catalina - when it found the Time Machine backup did exist, it was impossible to restore it then… for no reason given (it kept saying “loading” the backup, but “Continue” was greyed-out. Solution: go ahead and install, and sort out restoring from the backup later.

  3. (Possibly related to the second issue): in the MacOS install, once you say the username/password for the backup there seems to be no way to go back and correct it, other than completely restart the MacOS upgrade. At this point I wished there was a way to check from the WD admin interface if there had been an incorrect username/password given recently for that IP number.

  4. In case it helps: with an urgent need to access some of the files that had been on the Mac, and would have been on the backup, I wrote a program to search the Time Machine backup raw data for recent Open Document files (and got them all! Yay!). If anybody needs such a program (written in Perl), let me know. There is a lot of information on the Internet about the structure of Time Machine backups that is out of date and certainly does not apply to modern backups.