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Time Capsule and other network storage appliances are becoming very popular for providing shared "personal cloud" storage. Naturally, this storage looks very appealing as a backup destination. The thought of backing up all of your stuff without having to plug in a cable is very alluring. Indeed, this storage is well suited for the sharing of media files, but there are some logistical and practical hurdles to backing up large amounts of data to these devices. For example, we do not recommend backing up macOS system files to a NAS; there are simply too many logistical and reliability concerns with this configuration. Below we explain how to back up your data to a network volume, then we describe some of the limitations and performance expectations of this solution.

Note on bootability: If you require a bootable backup or if you ever need to restore system files, you must use an external hard drive enclosure attached directly to your Mac to create a bootable backup.

Backing up your data to a network volume

Before you proceed, your NAS volume should be mounted and accessible in the Finder. Instructions for gaining access to network volumes is available in the macOS Help Center. If your network volume does not appear in CCC's Source or Destination menu, consult the documentation that came with the storage device you are trying to access, or choose "Help Center" from the Finder's Help menu ("Mac Help" on Yosemite and above) and search for "connecting to servers".

To back up your home folder to a NAS volume with CCC:

  1. Choose Choose a folder from the Source selector.
  2. Select your home folder as the source (shortcut: press Command+Shift+H to navigate to your home folder)
  3. Choose Choose a folder from the Destination selector
  4. Navigate to your NAS volume, then click the New folder button to create a new folder on this volume, e.g. named "CCC Backup". Click the OK button.
  5. Click the Clone button to run the task immediately, or schedule the task to run later.

Restoring from a data backup on a NAS or network share

Restoring your data from data-only backup to a network share can be done with the following steps:

  1. Close all applications and all Finder windows
  2. Open CCC and create a new task
  3. Drag your home folder from the network share onto CCC's Source selector
  4. Drag your home folder from the current startup disk to CCC's Destination selector
  5. Click the Advanced Settings button
  6. Under the Troubleshooting section, check the box next to Don't preserve permissions (this will avoid any ownership issues that would arise from your account having a different numeric ID on the old and new system)
  7. Click the Clone button
  8. When the task completes, reboot the computer

Performance expectations when using a network volume

"Convenient" and "fast" often go hand-in-hand, but that often is not the case when backing up to a network volume. There are several factors that can greatly reduce the performance of your backup, and this backup strategy involves several of them. If you're finding that your network backups are slow, consider our network backup troubleshooting suggestions.