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How to Fix 'Time Machine Can't Find Backup Disk'?

Updated on Monday, July 15, 2024

iBoysoft author Vain Rowe

Written by

Vain Rowe
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee


Summary: Time Machine can't find your backup disk, what should you do? This post gives all the solutions for fixing this issue. Besides, it tells the possible reasons why Time Machine can't find your backup disk. - From iBoysoft

Time Machine cannot find backup disk

When you connect your backup disk or Time Capsule to your Mac for a new backup, but only to find that your Time Machine doesn't begin an automatic backup, or the backup disk even not showing up in Time Machine Preferences.

How odd! What's the matter? It means that Time Machine can't find the backup disk. If you want to get more details about the reasons and solutions for this issue, please move on.

How to fix the error: Time Machine can't find the backup disk

  1. Check the connections
  2. Restart your Mac
  3. Re-select the disk in Time Machine Preferences
  4. Check if your Mac and the disk are on the same network
  5. Check if the access password of the disk is correct
  6. Repair the backup disk and recover data


Why can't your Mac Time Machine find your backup disk?

There are kinds of possible causes for the Time Machine backup disk that is not available on your Mac. We've summarized the common reasons for the 'Time Machine can't find backup disk' problem below.

  • Poor connections. The USB port of the Mac or the USB port of the backup disk is damaged. Or, you haven't connected the disk tightly and correctly to your Mac.
  • Disk corruption. Your wrong ejection last time or other incorrect operations on the backup disk causes the disk to be corrupted or unrecognized by macOS. This could also lead to the Time Machine Restore button greyed out.
  • Network issues. The AirPort Time Capsule you've used as a backup disk doesn't connect to the same network as your Mac.
  • The backup disk is damaged. Perhaps, you've dropped or hit the disk by mistake, leading to it having physical issues.
  • Software issues. Sometimes, temporary bugs in the operating system or the Time Machine utility may lead to the backup disk not being available or working properly on Mac.

How to fix 'Time Machine can't find backup disk'?

Since there are different reasons for Time Machine failing to find the backup disk, you can't immediately lock the troublemaker which results in your backup disk not working in Time Machine.

Hence, to fix this issue, you need to do troubleshoot carefully. You can try the ways below to resolve the problem.

Check the connections

When Time Machine can't find the backup disk, firstly, you need to check if there's something wrong with the connections.

check Mac connection

If the external Time Machine backup disk doesn't show up in Disk Utility (Finder > Applications > the Utilities folder > Disk Utility), there probably have problems in the connections of your disk.

You can unplug your backup disk and reconnect it to another USB port on your Mac. If it still not showing up in Disk Utility, change the USB cable. Still not work? Connect the disk to another Mac. If it shows up on the other Mac, the backup disk may have physical issues (You need to send it to a local repair lab).

Restart your Mac

Sometimes, the bugs in OS will make software perform abnormally. Time Machine not working properly is especially common on the new macOS Monterey, such as Time Machine stuck on preparing backup or even can't detect the backup disk. But fortunately, a Mac restart can usually fix the trouble.

Open the Apple icon and click Restart. Then, see if Time Machine can find and connect to your backup disk after the Mac restart.

restart Mac

Re-select the disk in Time Machine Preferences

Like the operating system, the software also has temporary bugs sometimes. That's why your Time Machine fails to automatically connect to your backup disk.

You can follow these steps to make Time Machine reconnect your disk:

  1. Click the Time Machine icon at the right top Apple menu bar.
  2. Select Open Time Machine Preferences.
  3. Click Select Backup Disk from the Time Machine preferences window.select the backup disk in Time Machine preferences
  4. Choose your backup disk.

If the backup disk is not showing up in the list, it may have other issues. Please move on to the following solutions.

Check if your Mac and the disk are on the same network

If you use a network drive like Time Capsule as a Time Machine backup disk, check if the network of the disk and your Mac are the same. If not, Time Machine can't connect to your network backup disk.

You can switch them to the same network and try to use the backup disk again.

Check if the access password of the disk is correct

If you have set a password for the disk, make sure the password for unlocking and accessing the disk is correct. You can re-enter the password to check if the network disk can be found by Time Machine this time.

  1. Click the Time Machine icon from the upper right corner of the top menu bar.
  2. Select Open Time Machine Preferences.
  3. Choose the Time Capsule or other disk and type in your password correctly. The password is case 
    sensitive, please enter every character carefully.check the password of the backup disk

Repair the backup disk and recover data

If the above ways are not working for enabling Time Machine to detect your backup disk, you can check if the disk shows up in Finder under Locations. If it is not, it may be corrupted or damaged. It may also lead to Migration Assistant can't find Time Machine backup. You can open Disk Utility to check and repair the backup disk.

Run First Aid to check the disk

If the backup disk shows up in Disk Utility but can't be mounted, you can run First Aid to check and fix the tiny errors on it.

  1. Open Finder > Applications > the Utilities folder > Disk Utility.
  2. Select the disk at the left sidebar of the Disk Utility window.
  3. Click First Aid at the top > Run.run First Aid repair backup disk

Recover data and reformat the disk

If the drive still can't be mounted after First Aid finishes the repair, it may have serious file system issues.

At this time, you need to rescue data stored on the disk with a professional data recovery tool first and then reformat the hard drive to fix it.

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is such a reliable data recovery tool. This Mac Data Recovery software can recover files from unmounted, inaccessible, and corrupted hard drives. You can free download it and follow the on-screen guide of the software to get lost data back.

If the disk is even not listed in Disk Utility, it may have hardware issues. You need to contact a repair center for help.


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