Disk Utility and Time Machine in Ventura

Essential tools like Disk Utility might be very boring, but it’s vital for every user that they work well and reliably. The last few years have seen Disk Utility in particular not coping at all well, and in need of attention. The last time I looked at it in detail, six months ago in Monterey 12.4, it was unable to run First Aid on Time Machine backup storage volumes, which had to be performed in Recovery mode.


At the time, I suggested a workaround involving manual ejection of Time Machine backup snapshots thus:

  1. Check that Time Machine isn’t making a backup, or due to make one soon.
  2. Eject each volume on the disk in the Finder or Disk Utility.
  3. Open /Volumes/.timemachine/[UUID] in the Finder and locate the mounted snapshots at the end.
  4. Eject each of those mounted snapshots in the Finder.
  5. Try ejecting the disk again.

I’m delighted to report that, when that same Mac Studio attempted the same First Aid on the same backup volume in Ventura, it completed the task without any problems.



Looking in the hidden folder of snapshots on that Mac, there were no longer any listed as mounted for backups. Although that may not be guaranteed in every case, it now looks as if Disk Utility and Time Machine between them have solved this problem.

Time Machine


Time Machine has also changed in Ventura, at least in part because of its new controls in System Settings. Those now support making automatic backups every day, each week, or hourly as has been traditional with Time Machine in the past.


One great advantage of the new System Settings is that long lists of items not to be backed up by Time Machine are now more accessible, as System Settings’ window can occupy the full height of the display.

Time Machine’s controls aren’t perhaps as obvious as they could be: two commands that you might not know how to access are to back up with a consistency scan, and browse other backup disks. These are available in Time Machine’s menu (enabled in Control Centre) with the Shift or Option key held down, respectively.

I’m grateful to kapitainsky for pointing out one bug in the Time Machine app: if you use the Restore To… command, you won’t be prompted to select a destination to be used to restore the file, and it will be restored to its original location only.

Looking at Time Machine’s backup reports using my free T2M2, they appear to follow the pattern used in Monterey when backing up to a local APFS volume. There do appear to be some changes, suggesting that they have improved, but still save backups in synthetic snapshots much as before. Most importantly, they appear compatible with backups in Monterey, so there’s no requirement to convert or alter previous backups made to APFS volumes.

I will return to look at Time Machine backups in more detail in the future, and do still intend producing a new version of T2M2 to cater only for backing up to APFS storage.

The only relevant problems that I’m aware of, that you should watch for are:

  • long-term stability of APFS backups in sparse bundles on network storage, including NAS. I’m aware of some reports of sparse bundle failure in well-used backups, when using Time Machine in Monterey and Big Sur;
  • sudden failure to decrypt APFS (Encrypted) backup volumes on local storage. Although rare, these appear unrecoverable and lead to total loss of those backups. I’ve not see any reports from Ventura, but a couple from Monterey, and some older.

The other remaining issue with backups made to APFS volumes is the user’s inability to copy those backups to another volume, either because of problems with the existing storage, or to migrate them to a larger disk. This remains a serious shortcoming with Time Machine backups to APFS storage.

Many thanks to Apple’s engineers who have worked on improving Disk Utility and Time Machine. I’m only sorry that Apple hasn’t announced the fruits of your labour.