[OSX] Sparsebundles Are Junk And You Should Stop Using Them

By | October 1, 2017

If you ever used a sparsebundle file, whatever the reason, you probably had to fight at some point to restore your data. And most likely, you lost everything. It’s happened to me over and over again; backup “disks” become corrupted. They are extremely fragile and won’t even survive a reboot if not properly dismounted. I’m not sure why Apple hasn’t fixed them yet, as problems have existed since their inception.

So stop bothering with them. It’s pointless. They’re useless, unless you absolutely do not care about your data. But what are the alternatives then? Well there are quite a few. Here’s my preferred ones:

  1. Create a normal HFS partition on a disk and rsync to it.
  2. Use any *nix system, mount a share using the native filesystem, and rsync to it.

The beauty of rsync is that you can exclude what you want, it will verify checksum automagically, and you can do incremental backups using pax, kind of like Time Masheen does. But wait, you may say. If I rsync to a ext3/4, UFS, etc disk, won’t the permissions, attributes et all be lost? Well yes, but it really doesn’t matter. When you rsync them back, OSX will automagically set everything back (well, mostly). While this may be a problem for system files, it’s absolutely fine for user files, apps, and other. Only the special system files and apps may lose their permissions, but it’s nothing you can’t fix manually.

There you have it. There’s no reason to keep using this sub-par, ineffective and dangerous type of file.

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