Why is my first Time Machine backup taking so long?

The first time you backup using Time Machine, all files including your applications and data are copied to the backup location. If you have extremely large files that have frequent modifications, it is a good idea to exclude them in the Time Machine preferences and back them up manually. Time Machine allows you to restore files to a previous state so this can take up an exceedingly large amount of space due to the amount of file revision information stored.

Large files may be any of the following:

  • VMWare Fusion virtual machines.
  • Parallels Desktop virtual machines
  • Incomplete BitTorrent downloads

If do not know what the items are in the above list, you are probably not making use of them.

The factors affecting the time it takes for backup can be any one of the following:

Network backups:

  • Wireless and wired network speeds

Local backups:

  • Speed of external USB and FireWire hard drives
  • Speed of internal hard drives

Applies to both network and external device backups:

  • How much data you have in your Mac

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