Time machine can't complete saving

For a couple of days Time Machine has been returning an error message that it can’t complete the saving procedure, advising to check the disk with the utilitary. The latter indicates that the disk cannot be repaired and should be reformatted. How do I do this ? What with all the data that’s already on my external HD ? And why does this happen ?


Take a look at this link, Hope it helps.

How to test a drive for defects or problems on a Mac 

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I have already run the Disk Utility and here is what happened:

  • after doing the check, it returned a message saying the disk needed repairing;

  • after running the repair tool in that same Disk Utility, it returned a message saying that the disk could not be repaired, and that it should be reformatted.

This doesn’t seem right for a product that I have acquired less than a year ago. I’m truly not impressed with the quality.

Besides, what happens to all the data I have saved once I re-format it ? I don’t have an equivalent storage capacity elsewhere to transfer it to before reformatting.

Finally, if I have to re-format, then how should I proceed ?




Anybody know what I should do re: the problem exposed in my previous messages in this thread?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



Hello Crichon

First I would not use this disk anymore. If you reformat, you destroy all your data. Can you copy the contents to an additional drive? Such storage does not cost much anymore (1 TB for less than 80$). Replacement of the reformatted disk is advised unless you can expertly check it.

What happened to you may be a rather rare failure, but you should be prepared for this. I suffered twice within the last 3 years:

Once it affected an internal hard disk on a 5 year old iMac, it showed some odd reactions. Replacement in a certified repair shop helped. The costs were moderate. That is why I work now with an SD system disk as there are no delicate mechanics - and an internal HD for “running” projects and some standard documentations. 

The second failure was an external 4 year old MyBook for the time machine. The drive was always on and made long hourly backup (slow USB 2) for years. The electronics was warm all the time and disk head had been oscillating for long hours until one day - a “clicking” was heard - and the time machine refused further backup. Short access to the disk was possible, I could have saved the contents, but I did not (before Mavericks, see below), as I had all my 1.5 TB projects or documents as well as 1.5 TB of photos on two  RAID 1 (. That became unraided after Mavericks update, another community story!).

What I learned:

  • I use time machine backups on a single 1 TB disk, only for the system as well as for the running projects. Time Machine is a comfortable feature, but should not be used for archiving important work (large projects, photos etc.)
  • I do not use automatic time machine backups, but I manually activate them, whenever there is important work done. In between, the drive is switched off. That should minimize “ageing” of delicate electronics and mechanics.
  • I archive now my projects twice on two large single disks. I do not trust RAID1 anymore after Apple’s increasingly frequent OS X tampering …
  • One problem remains: in earlier OS X versions I was able to store my exported e-Mail archives. Mavericks stopped this and you have to depend on the time machine backup.

I think there are - even for occasional users - many ways to minimize the risks of disk failures. The prices of storage space drop continuously and fast SSD storage becomes affordable. Never archive important work on one hard disk, only!

Good luck!