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Massively speed up Time Machine backups

Massively speed up Time Machine backups

Time Machine and its network-equipped brother, Time Capsule, are superb innovations. They make backup seamless, invisible and easy. They’re also slow. Really slow. I’ve had to wait before I put my MacBook Pro to sleep sometimes while a backup finishes and, of course, the initial backup can literally take days.

Here’s how to fix that.

Open a Terminal window, which you’ll find in the Utilities folder within the Applications list, and paste in the following, typing your login password when prompted:

sudo sysctl debug.lowpri_throttle_enabled=0

This command prevents Time Machine’s backup process assuming a low CPU priority, allowing backups to complete insanely quickly. In fact, you’ll see MB and GBs tick past on the Time Capsule progress display in a second-by-second fashion (provided your Mac isn’t very busy with some other task).

Alas, this command is forgotten when you reboot. If you want it to stick around when you reboot, you’ll need to add a launch-time script, as follows.

  1. Back in the Terminal window, paste in the following single line (it might be split into two lines in your web browser – just highlight all lines at once, then copy and paste):
    sudo nano /Library/LaunchDaemons/nothrottle.plist
  2. You’ll open a document editor in the Terminal window. Copy and paste in the following chunk of code:
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd"> <plist version="1.0"> <dict> <key>Label</key> <string>nothrottle</string> <key>ProgramArguments</key> <array> <string>/usr/sbin/sysctl</string> <string>debug.lowpri_throttle_enabled=0</string> </array> <key>RunAtLoad</key> <true/> </dict> </plist>
  3. In the Terminal window, tap the Ctrl+O keyboard shortcut (that’s Ctrl, not Cmd!) and then hit Enter. Then tap Ctrl+X.
  4. In the Terminal window, paste in the following single line, which again might appear in your web browser as two or more lines:
    sudo chown root /Library/LaunchDaemons/nothrottle.plist;sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/nothrottle.plist
  5. Close the Terminal window.

Should in future you want to turn off this new command, type the following, which again is a single line:

sudo launchctl unload -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/nothrottle.plist

… And then reboot.

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Massively speed up Time Machine backups

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