Before Losing Your Mind Trying to Connect to Your Time Capsule Try This

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We’ve all been there – you suddenly realize that Time Machine or another backup program hasn’t actually backed up to your Time Capsule in days. You go to manually start a backup and after typing your password you get the dreaded error “There was a problem connecting to the server (Time Capsule name). Check the server name or IP address, and then try again. If you continue to have problems, contact your system administrator.”

You know that you put in the right password (but just to be sure you’ve tried it an additional two or seven times). And of course, you are the administrator, so now what? You’ve probably already Googled (or Binged or DuckDuckGoed) for what to do when you can’t connect to your Time Capsule, it won’t take your password, and it tells you to “contact your system administrator” and had little luck. Until now.

Check the server name or IP address and then try again If you continue to have problems contact your system administrator


You may also have already found this post in Apple’s forums, which tells you to “See A4 here.”, but when you try to go to that link, you discovered that the site no longer exists, and so the information that you had so hoped would be your salvation is no longer available. Until now.

You see, we had the exact same problem, and went through the exact same steps, only we found the instructions that were once on the Pondini server. And they work. Here they are, so no need to lose your mind.

But first, a bit about the site was the baby of the late James Pond. James is recognized by many (multitudes, really) as one of the foremost experts on OS X Time Machine, and his was a mecca for those seeking information on Time Machine and, more to the point, trouble shooting issues with Time Machine. If you Google (or Lycos, or Yahoo) his name, you will see tribute after tribute to James. And rightly so. So, take a moment to remember him – or at least his legacy – and then read on for his instructions for fixing the “There was a problem connecting to the server… Check the server name or IP address, and then try again. If you continue to have problems, contact your system administrator” error.

What to Do When You Can’t Connect to Your Time Capsule or Other Backup Device

Again, these instructions are specifically for when you get the “There was a problem connecting to the server (Time Capsule name). Check the server name or IP address, and then try again. If you continue to have problems, contact your system administrator” message.

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Before Losing Your Mind Trying to Connect to Your Time Capsule Try This

Also, here’s something from the ‘Good to Know Dept.’: Once you follow the instructions below, and you are once again connected to your Time Capsule (whew!), Time Machine will act as if it is going to start a brand new backup, including saying that you need XXX Gig for the new backup – it may even say that it is starting a new backup. Ignore all of that. Really.

Once it actually starts the backup, it will discover your existing backup and update it just like it always has.

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Ok, here you go – thanks to the late James Pond:

Text of, Section A4

Time Machine – Troubleshooting

A4. Full Reset of Time Machine

This will reset the connection to your backup destination, and replace the preferences file containing your settings for Time Machine: the destination, options, and any exclusions. If it’s corrupted, Time Machine may not work properly, if at all.

It will not delete anything in your backups, or cause Time Machine to start a new set of backups.

1.On the Time Machine Preferences window, turn Time Machine OFF and be sure a backup is not running (turning Time Machine off won’t cancel a backup that’s already running). If in doubt, see item #D6.

2.If you’re backing-up some things, but not everything, on any external HDs, connect them temporarily (otherwise those exclusions won’t appear in the next step, so you might forget them, and won’t be able to re-enter them in step 6).

3.Click the Options button on the preferences window. Note everything in the exclusions box, and the settings of the other options (perhaps via a screen print), then click Cancel to return to the main window. Then quit System Preferences.

4.If you’re backing-up to an external HD, eject, disconnect, and power it off for a few moments, then reconnect it.

5.Delete the file /Library/Preferences/ (in your top-level Library folder, not the Library folder inside your home folder, where most user preferences are).

(A Spotlight search won’t find it, and neither will a Finder search, unless you include System Files).

If you have trouble finding it, from a Finder menubar, select Go > Go to Folder, copy /Library/Preferences to the prompt and click Go. Scroll down until you find

Or you can navigate to it, by opening your Startup Drive, usually named “Macintosh HD,” via the Finder. If you have a problem finding the file, see item #A7.)

6.Go back into Time Machine Preferences. If your backup drive is still selected, the contents of the old file are still there. Restart your Mac, and delete the file again.

Re-select your backup drive, and re-enter any exclusions and other options you noted in step 3. If you’re backing-up any external HDs, they’ll be excluded automatically, so remove those exclusions. If you’re not sure how to do that, see Time Machine FAQ #10.

Note: If you’re backing-up to an external HD, it’s shown automatically, in gray, and you can’t remove it. Any drives or partitions that aren’t formatted for a Mac can’t be backed-up by Time Machine, so they’ll also be shown in gray, and can’t be removed.

The oldest and latest backup dates won’t appear on this window until the next backup is done. “None” does not mean the backups are lost, just that the dates haven’t been re-loaded.

7. A 120-second countdown to a backup should appear. If you close the preferences window, it should begin immediately.

Note: We resurrected the above via the Internet Archives, however after finding it there, we also came across this site, lovingly resurrected and maintained by Jonathan Berger:

Full Pondini Site as maintained on

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Before Losing Your Mind Trying to Connect to Your Time Capsule Try This

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