Time Machine with Iomega iConnect

Posted on April 7, 2010

Time Machine logoOk this is an unexpected post, but I just came across an issue with my brand new Iomega iConnect (USB NAS adapter) when I wanted to configure Time Machine on it. It’s a device that allows you to turn USB drives into networked storage areas, you can plug up to 4 USB drives into it. Actually, the Time Machine support was a key point in my decision to buy the Iomega iConnect. I really wanted my macbook to backup on the air and behind the scene without having to plug my external HDD every day.

For what I’ve seen, the Iomega iConnect works fine for HDDs and printers, just plug them and it works right away. But if you want to use your drive as a Time Machine disk, it’s a bit more techy to achieve. But not that long.

First, I didn’t managed to do anything by plugging in my external HDD that already contained my macbook’s backup. Every time I was trying to launch a backup operation, I had an error like it’s not possible to mount the disk image.

Then, I tried to format my eHDD several times to start over from a pure and virgin basis. Every time I had the same error messages as above.

Finally, I found the trick on the Internet (this one worked good for me). These are the steps I followed to work it out (on 10.5 Leopard):

1. Mount my external HDD by plugging it to your macbook. Format it with a single partition taking all the space in HFS+.

2. Open Disk Utility, click on New Image. Then, fill as follows:

Configuration for Disk Utility

  • Save As: $NameOfYourComputer_$macAddress (in my case, something like that: Cyril-Macbook_0123456789)
  • Where: although I’ve not tried, it’s said that it doesn’t work to choose a network location here. I chose my eHDD root.
  • Volume Name: whatever you want, I chose “Cyril-Macbook Time Machine”
  • Volume Size: the size must be less than the available space on your eHDD (for example my eHDD has a 149.1Go capacity, I chose 149Go for the Volume Size value)
  • Volume Format: I chose Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled)
  • Encyrption: none
  • Partitions: no partition map
  • Image Format: spare bundle disk image

And create the disk.

3. Unmount your eHDD from your computer, and plug it into the iConnect.

4. Open http://iconnect/ on your favorite browser and set up your drive as a Time Machine disk. You can set up security settings by securing the access with username/password.

5. Open Time Machine preferences, your networked drive should appear in the list of available disks. Launch the first backup and it should be alright now. Note that the first backup is awfully slow with a wifi connection…

So far I’ve had no problems with this method 🙂 if you experience some, let me know.

Edit 22th may 2010: just got new MacBook Pro with Snow Leopard, and it wasn’t possible to use the same disk as a time machine, as the image’s name contains the MAC address (and everybody knows the mac address is different for every computer), so I did the same procedure on Snow Leopard and it worked too. Phew!

About the author

Cyril Mazur is a serial web entrepreneur with experience in various fields: online dating, forex & finance, blogging, online advertising... who enjoys building things that people like to use.


  1. cavalleto
    on May 25, 2010
    Hi from Spain.

    I try to connect using your tutorial but It doesn't work fine. Yes, Time Machine finds my eHD but when It's begin to make the back up shows this message: "(error -1)". Anything else, any adicional information about the problem.

    Do you know something about this error?

    Thanks and excuse my bad english.
  2. Cyril
    on May 25, 2010
    No problem, i'm not a native british either anyway :)

    Well, have you tried to backup without having generated the sparse bundle disk image before, which is very important? I red on the Net that it doesn't work if you copy the image via SMB though. However, It works fine via AFP or if you plug the eHDD directly in USB to your mac, I already tried the both and it worked.

  3. on May 31, 2010
    Hi there!
    I was happy, that i have found the solution of problems with time machine. But this solution steal doesn't work. It writes something like that it's not able to create disk image (error 45). I created one following the instructions above, but the time machine tries to create another one, always with name without the MAC part. So i tried to create the image without that part of name too, but it created another one with "_1" at the end. After a few seconds it writes that error. Does anybody know, how to solve that?
    Thank you!
  4. Cyril
    on June 3, 2010
    Hi Jirka,

    Kinda weird it wants to create another image ... If i'm not mistaking, there is a different mac address for the ethernet interface and the wifi interface, maybe is it the issue?

    Another precision: the mac address has to be written without the colons (keep the numbers only).

    Does it solve the problem?
  5. DanC
    on July 6, 2010
    Cyril: Is multiple time machine per hard drive possilbe via iconnect?
    Excellent overview and links! Thanks!
  6. Cyril
    on July 6, 2010
    Hi DanC, thanks :)

    Good question. I know in the iConnect web interface you can just set up one hard drive for time machine. But does it work with multiple time machines, I don't know, never tried *-) If you find the answer, I'd be interested to know that!

  7. on July 20, 2010
    Thank you, this helps enormously. Having renamed my existing TM backup to include the en0 MAC is the piece of info I was missing.

    The only other thing I did was to create a sparsebundle with much bigger bands to try and improve network performance. See http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=2008050913104691

  8. Cyril
    on July 20, 2010
    Thank you for the info Justyn, I've never come across that but it's well useful :)

  9. on February 6, 2011
    Just went through the entire process of getting this thing to work and was also getting the 'cannot create image' message.

    The trick to be completely explict is that no matter how you connect to the iConnect (wifi or wired) you have to get the MAC address of the Ethernet port NOT the MAC address of the AirPort adaptor.

    Small, but vital piece of info!

  10. on March 28, 2011
    Your advice to first connect the eHDD you plan to use with the iConnect to your Mac, and create the spare bundle disk image required by Time Machine directly on it yourself worked like a charm. (This was in fact the only way I could get my MacBook to back-up to the drive.) One little tip for anyone else trying this method: I found that after I created the spare bundle disk image on the drive and connected it to the iConnect, when I went to the Time Machine pane on the iConnect web interface to enable this feature, it was already enabled and the spare bundle disk image I created was there listed as an available back-up destination for Time Machine. So as long as you can see your spare bundle disk image in the list, you should be able to back-up without issue. (I also found that for this method to work, the spare bundle disk image had to contain the MAC address of the computer's Ethernet port in its name.)

  11. on April 24, 2011
    Hello. I have been reading the above with great interest as I too am having issues getting Time Machine to back up via iConnect.

    I followed Cyril's advice, and it generated an 'Error 1' message.

    I was hoping to do the initial TM backup with the External drive plugged directly into the laptop (which would be quick), and then use the iConnect for all subsequent automatic backups. I also want to access the files saved on the external drive from other laptops on the network so that I can look at photos etc.

    I am somewhat out of my depth being a new mac user & not very good at this sort of thing anyway. Any suggestions would be welcome as I am struggling and getting very frustrated.
  12. Cyril
    on April 26, 2011
    Hi Gareth,

    I'm away from home for some weeks, so can't really have a look on it now... As far as I remember, I had problems making the first backup via USB and then following ones via iConnect. And I finally had to make the first backup via iConnect to get it work.

    Then, I don't think it will work to use your eHDD as a time machine disk and as a NAS disk at the same time, since time machine backups are incremental and files are disposed in a more or less messy way on the disk.

    I'll try to have a look when I go back home. Good luck!

  13. on June 30, 2011
    TIP: Connect your computer to your wireless router with an ethernet cable, and the backup will go 10X faster. (You may need to turn off AirPort.)

  14. on September 24, 2011
    Rckr, That sort of defeats the purpose of having the iConnect. If the macbook has to connected to the router then why not just connect the external hard drive to the usb port?
  15. Cyril
    on September 24, 2011
    Mark, I agree with you, however connecting your macbook to the router with an ethernet cable is good idea for the initial backup that can take an eternity if done over wifi (think about an initial backup of like 100GB at a speed of 50MB/s, aouch)

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