Replace Time Machine Server on macOS Server with WD’s

The past couple of years has forced me to rethink many of my recommendations for how you backup computers in small office and home environments. Previously, I would have said that you could use a disk attached to an Apple AirPort. But the AirPort Base Station is no longer being made. Previously, I would have said you could use Time Machine Server, a service built into macOS Server in 5.4 and below. But that service is no longer being made in macOS Server by Apple and is now found in the Sharing System Preference pane . Previously, I might have even said to use the home edition of CrashPlan, which could have backed up to their cloud and/or a home server. But that plan is no longer being offered by Code 42.

So what are we to do? Well, luckily now the offerings out there are just endless. One of those offerings is so easy, you can run out to Best Buy, return home with a WD (Western Digital) drive, and be up and running in about 5 minutes. I’ll cover other options when I cover file services and Synology. But in the meantime, let’s look at setting up a WD drive, account, and configuring both to work with Time Machine. 

Setup Your WD Hard Drive
First, we’ll setup the drive. This is pretty straight forward. Plug the ethernet cable into your network, wait for the drive to boot up, and then go to the MyHome setup page.

Here, you’ll be prompted to setup a My Cloud Home account. Enter a name, email address, and password. Then click on Create Account.

You’ll then be prompted for the device you plugged in, which is discovered on the network. Click Connect.

Choose whether you want to share product improvement data. Ever since my team as a product manager I’m a huge fan of doing so, so I clicked Share.

Once that’s done, you’ll be prompted to get the desktop app. While not absolutely necessary, it’s not a bad idea. If you want the app, click Download.

Once the app is done downloading, open the directory and open the installer.

Click Install Now.

Once complete, you’ll see the menu bar. Click it and then add your device if you don’t see it by clicking on “I don’t see my device” 

When prompted, enter your email address and password that you created earlier and then click on Sign In.

Click Skip.

Next, in the notifications area for updating the software make sure to run that. There was a pretty bad vulnerability awhile back and that will make sure you’re good. Then click on the name of your WD MyCloud Home.

Add IFTTT Alerts

I want to see when new updates, channels or options are added, so I’m going to enable that. To do so, click on Services in the sidebar. and then click on Enable for IFTTT.

Assuming the terms of service are acceptable, click “I Agree”

When prompted, choose to connect to IFTTT.

From the IFTTT site, click Connect.

Choose which options to give IFTTT for the MyCloud API.

Browse the channels and enable each that you’d like and then click “Turn on.”

Mount the MyCloud Drive
Next, open a “Connect to Server” dialog box (Command-K from the Finder) and click on Browse.

Click on the MyCloud-XXX where XXX is the identifier for your MyCloud account.

Click on the timemachinebackup folder.

The folder should initially be empty. Now let’s open the Time Machine System Preference pane.

Click on “Select Backup Disk…”

Choose Your MyDisk From Time Machine

Choose the TimeMachineBackup directory for the MyCloud Device and click on “Use Disk.”

You’ll then want to create a user for backing up. To do so, go back to the site and click on settings. Then click on “Add user…” and enter an email address.

The email address will get an email to setup an account. Do so and then once you’ve configured the user, enter the email address and password when prompted.

Now wait for the first backup to finish. If you ever see any errors, check them; otherwise, you should backup to the device as with a locally attached drive, but you won’t need to plug directly into the drive to run backups.

This doesn’t solve for a lot of use cases that Time Machine Server would have been better for. But it’s a simple task that should cost you a little over a hundred bucks and get you backing up. I’m still a fan of cloud services. Backblaze, Carbonite, and others will backup your data for an annual fee of a little less than what a MyDrive costs. I’ll cover those in later articles, but for now, you’ve got a backup on your network, which even if you use one of those services is a great option in the event of hardware failure, as you can quickly get back up and running with a full system restore!

15 thoughts on “Replace Time Machine Server on macOS Server with WD’s”

  1. FYI, you might look at Arq as a alternative or in addition to Time Machine. It supports a ton of cloud storage options like Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive ,Dropbox, OneDrive, Backblaze B2, Google Nearline, Google Coldline, Wasabi, Amazon Glacier and Amazon S3. Or you can backup to your own server/hard drive or NAS. Arq stores your encrypted backups in a format that’s open and documented.

    1. This is a small part of a larger piece that actually does mention ARQ, fusion, and a few others. 🙂

  2. Do you have to have an online account with WD in order to be able to use the device on the local network?

      1. So if the service goes away then your backup is useless, and effectively so is the device. Seems high risk to me for a backup solution. But they are cheap… Thanks for the heads up.

        BTW, thanks for all you write – it’s been very useful when I have had issues with my server, and interesting as I plan the replacement. Tossing up between a Debian or BSD box with Dovecot, Postfix and Samba (assuming I will be able to do Time Machine to Samba by the time Apple stops patching Server) or something like a Synology NAS. I’m not sure of the robustness of the Synology et al for an email server though. At least Apple gave warning.
        Cheers, Liam

  3. “Previously, I would have said you could use Time Machine Server, a service built into macOS Server in 5.4 and below. But that service is no longer being made by Apple.”

    Is not correct, Apple moved the file sharing services (including Time Machine Server) into macOS. Right or control clicking a shared folder within the File Sharing section of the Sharing Preferences pane, selecting Advanced Options… macOS 10.13 will present you with an option to Share as a Time Machine backup location.

  4. I’m enjoying the “Replace *service* in macOS Server” series, partly because I’ve been using so much of the same stuff myself for years: MAMP Pro, iVPN, and MyCloud.

    I’ve had a MyCloud for about four years now and last month, for the first time, I had to restore from the Time Machine backup I keep on it. It took about 11 hours to restore ~2.2 TB of data to a Mac Pro 5,1. A long time, but most of it was overnight, and I was just happy I had the backup, and that it restored without incident.

    Also, even though you do have to register an account with WD to use the MyCloud on your LAN, that doesn’t mean you can’t still use it if WD drops the service at some point in the future. It will still work fine as a local share and Time Machine server. You would just lose cloud access to the files you have on the device, via a web browser or the MyCloud app. When I did my restore recently, I wasn’t logged in to either, and hadn’t been for over three years.

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