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I have a couple iMac computers running Mac OS X 10.7 and 10.8 which back up to a 3 tb hard disk which is attached to an Airport (Apple wireless router + usb disk server). They appear to be storing their data onto a volume which has the volume name "backup3tb" which is the name I gave the disk when I back up onto it.

What is mystifying me completely is that sometimes another volume shows up as "Time Machine Backups" and is mounted just like any local or network mounted volume would show when it is mounted, and sometimes it is not.

I dragged some files over there by accident while it was mounted, and now its like those files vanished. Then yesterday they were back again for a while. Now that volume is gone again. WHat is going on with this "phantom" disk that appears and goes away, named "Time Machine Backups"?

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Google helped me find this which suggests that the volume named "Time Machine backups" is transiently mounted by the operating system and represents a .sparsebundle bundle on my backup3tb volume. – Warren P Feb 17 '13 at 17:38
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I hope this helps somebody:

This volume appears automatically each time you click the Time Machine menu in the top menu bar, and then click "Enter Time Machine" which is Apple Speak for "restore from a backup". It does a mount of a .sparsebundle on a remote drive which then appears as second virtual drive that OS X can use to do its restore.

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