Time Machine Backup Delayed? Here’s Why & How to Fix on Mac

Feb 25, 2010 - 2 Comments

Time Machine in Mac OS X

If you haven’t backed up with Time Machine in a while, the latest backup status will change to ‘Delayed’ and the menubar icon will have an exclamation mark in it reminding you to backup soon.

There can be a variety of reasons the backups become delayed, and if you’re curious why this happens we’ll go through the most common reasons on a Mac, and of course how you can resolve the problem.


time machine backup delayed

Keep in mind that resolving the backup delay is usually very easy to do, and can be remedied simply by letting a backup go as usual. So, why might you see the backup delayed message? Let’s review:

Common reasons to have the ‘Time Machine Backup Delayed’ message on Mac

  1. You have manually stopped the Time Machine backup process several times
  2. You have detached the external device that Time Machine was backing up to
  3. You have recently changed the Time Machine backup drive
  4. The Time Machine backup drive is no longer connected to the Mac

Fortunately these are all easy to fix, as you may have seen a theme here with why the backups are delayed; either the backup was halted, or the backup destination drive is no longer connected.

How to Fix “Time Machine Backup Delayed” Error on Mac

Most of these are resolved by just reconnecting the Time Machine drive to the Mac in question and letting the Mac perform its backup routine.

Simply reconnect the Time Machine hard disk to the Mac and then either start a manual backup, or let the backup process begin on it’s own schedule as usual.

That’s it, the error should resolve on it’s own and backups will commence as usual.

Changed Time Machine drives lately? Do this

If you have recently changed the Time Machine device, make sure Time Machine is aware of the new disk location by checking out the Time Machine preferences within System Preferences > Time Machine. The name of the backup disk will be listed, if it’s an old drive or you want to switch it, just hit the ‘Select Disk’ button and select your new backup disk.

So if you’re getting those “Backup Delayed” error messages and popups in Mac OS X, what’s the best solution to fix it? Simply connect the Time Machine backup drive and let the backup begin and complete.

If the backup does not start automatically once the drive is connected, you can initiate an instant backup yourself at any time by going the manual route by pulling down the menu and choosing to do so.

I recommend to just let Time Machine run on it’s regular backup schedule so you can prevent delays and keep your Mac backups as accurate, as recent, and as relevant as possible. You may not need them often, but when you do, you’ll be glad you have a recent Time Machine snapshot to revert or restore a Mac back to. With how easy Time Machine is to setup and use for Mac backups, there is little reason to not do this.

Did this resolve your “Time Machine backup delayed” error on your Mac? Did you find another solution? Let us know how your Time Machine backup experience has gone and how it’s working for you on your Mac by leaving a comment.

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Posted by: David Mendez in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

2 Comments

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  1. Sahil says:

    Try these, I also had many problems with Time Machine & these really helped:

    http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2057525

  2. I’ve give up with my Time Machine after it didn’t manage to make proper backup from my notebook in a month. I’m quite disappointed with this apple product – now it serves just as a router and net drive.

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