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I'm currently backing up using WD My Book World network drive that supports Apple Time Machine.

I would like to copy some files from my old laptop backup. However, my old backup isn't showing when you browse the time machine network drive, only the currently used machine is listed (I know there are 3 different backups).

How can I access those files not belonging to the currently used laptop?

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migrated from May 19 '10 at 4:20

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Try using the migration assistant, from utilities, and point it to the shared drive where you keep your time machine backups.

@Baloo: I think it asks you during the process, but don't quote me on that. Either way it shouldn't over-write, so you can restore a big chunk, and just delete it later.


If you want to access it as a drive, log in to the computer that the Time Machine backup drive is connected to, then navigate to /Volumes. You should be able to see the Time Machine backup drive.

If you open it, you will see all the different files from all the different computers you have backed up to it. These will be called something like <computerName>.sparsbundle. If you double click on one of these, it will mount the sparsbundle as a drive. (This is the drive you see when the Time Machine backup drive shows up on your computer when you are performing a backup.)

Open the sparsbundle belonging to the computer you are interested in. (It is best to do this from the computer that is physically connected to the backup drive, because otherwise it will take a lot more time.) Once the sparsebundle mounts, you will see a folder called something like Backups.backupdb. Open this, and inside you will a folder with the name of the computer that owns the backup. Open this folder, and you will see numerous folders, with dates for names. Open the one that interests you, and you will be able to navigate the filesystem as if it were the actual computer.

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Great, this works for restoring complete set of files and users. But isn't there a way to access the mount as any other share? Or copy specific files instead of adding a new user with whole directories of files – baloo May 18 '10 at 20:23

I can easily browse TimeMachine files using WinSCP (GUI SSH/SFTP client) from a Windows machine, so there should be no reason you can't do it from the Mac using something similar.

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