Time Machine Stuck On Preparing Backup [FIXED]

Time Machine stuck on preparing backup” is experienced by some macOS users, and of course, it is frustrating. With this article, we explain this error and how to overcome it without getting stuck anymore. No matter what version of macOS gave this issue, the solutions we offer here can help you.

With this writeup, we reveal the most practical solutions to resolve the “Time Machine stuck on preparing backup” issue. In addition to that, we explain how to retrieve lost files through a reliable data recovery software program. Before we go to a detailed description, however, let’s take a look at a summary of the solutions.

  1. Checking the cause of the issue.
  2. Fixing the Time Machine.
  3. Recovering the lost data due to “Time Machine stuck on preparing backup” error.

There are many users who have experienced the annoyance related to stuck Time Machine. This error is pretty common when preparing backup in macOS versions like Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, and so on. In a nutshell, Time Machine is the default feature included in macOS to create backups of your valuable files. According to the default settings of the macOS, this tool creates backups on your Mac automatically. That means you don’t have to create backups manually when you have Time Machine.

However, there are times in which this tool starts to malfunction. When the Time Machine feature gets stuck or frozen, it doesn’t make any backups of the files. If you come across such a situation, it is completely normal to feel helpless and frustrated. But the good news is that we can explain how to overcome this issue. So, follow the information mentioned in this article carefully and learn how to do it without getting frustrated anymore.

Time Machine stuck on preparing backup

Check if the Time Machine has stuck or not

Before looking into the methods that fix the Time Machine, you must check the error carefully. That is to make sure if something has actually gone wrong with the Time Machine. Sometimes, you can wrongfully assume that the Time Machine is Stuck On Preparing Backup when it is not. For instance, your Time Machine can take longer than expected, even if the process is generally quick. Mentioned below are some of those reasons for the Time Machine to take longer than usual.

● There is a massive data file to backup

Is there a large hard drive, and there are plenty of files to be backed up? If that is the case and there are terabytes of data, the process can obviously take longer than expected. Also, if you have added a number of new files to the same drive, the duration can be longer. Moreover, if you have made major changes to the drive, Time Machine can take longer to create a backup.

● Your device is experiencing something wrong

If your hard drive is too old, it can malfunction and take much longer than expected. Also, it can happen if the physical drive has become too slow. It can actually be rectified by speeding up the Mac. If the device is infected by a virus, Time Machine can take longer.

● The drive is not backed up for a pretty long time

If the Time Machine has not created a backup for a very long time, the file size increases. Eventually, it can grow into a very large file after a couple of months. Then, the Time Machine will take longer to back up the file in full.

Well, the cases we have mentioned above can delay the backup preparation, but it shouldn’t be too long. For instance, it should only take a couple of hours. However, if the process takes around 12 to 24 hours, there is something wrong with it. If the process is not completed overnight, you can assume that the time machine is stuck. In other words, it is not normal for a mac. If that is the case, the chances are that your Time Machine is Stuck On Preparing Backup.

If you’ve come across such a situation, you can read the following section of this article and fix it. We strongly believe that the solutions mentioned here can make your Mac working smoothly once again.

PS: let’s figure out how to delete Time Machine backups with ease.

How to fix the “Time Machine stuck on preparing backup” issue?

The troubleshooting of the “Time Machine stuck on preparing backup” issue includes several different steps. You can follow these steps and get your Time Machine working once again to rescue your files. Before proceeding with the actions, however, we strongly recommend you create a backup of the Mac at your earliest.

01. Stop the ongoing process to fix ‘Time Machine Stuck On Preparing Backup’

First, you should stop the existing attempt (which is failed) of the Time Machine. Mentioned below are the steps to follow.

  • First, launch the “Time Machine” from your “System Preferences.” This can be achieved either through the Apple Menu or the Time Machine menu.
  • Then, you should see the backup attempts. Just click on the small “X” icon located on the screen so the backup attempt will be canceled.
Stop the ongoing process
  • As a result, the progress bar will be disappeared. Moreover, it will not display a message called “Preparing Backup” again. When you have stopped that progress bar, that means you have stopped the process successfully. So, “Time Machine stuck on preparing backup” message is disappeared now. However, you have not finished troubleshooting the error yet. To get it done, you should move to the next step and overcome this issue.

02. Remove the file called .inProgress to fix Time Machine Stuck On Preparing Backup

When the Time Machine backup is either stopped or stuck, you should trash a specific placeholder file. This file is related to the Time Machine. The name of this file is .inProgress. It should be found under the backup drive. Here’s how to delete it.

  • First, you should go to the Time Machine drive through the Finder on your system.
  • Then, you should navigate to the folder labeled “Backups.backup.” Under that, you will find another folder. This folder carries the name of the existing Mac, which cannot turn the backup process.
  • Now, you should change the directory’s view of the “List View.” Then, sort it by the option called “Date Modified.” If not, you can simply search the folder for a file that comes with the extension “.inProgress.”
  • Be sure to delete this file.
Remove the file called .inProgress

03. Prevent the Spotlight feature from identifying your Time Machine Backup

You already know about the Spotlight feature on your Mac. It can become trouble if it interferes with the Time Machine preparation. So, to prevent it, you should prevent this feature from indexing the Time Machine backup volume. In this case, you should add it to the tab called “Privacy” located under the Spotlight Preferences. Please follow up below the guide to get it done.

  • First, you should launch the System Preferences option. Due to that, you should click on the “Dock” icon. If not, you can select “System Preferences” located under the “Apple Menu.”
  • You can now launch the “Spotlight Preference” pane as well. Just click on the corresponding icon to do it. You can find it under the Personal Area, which is located in System Preferences.
  • Now, click on the tab labeled “Privacy.”
Prevent the Spotlight feature from identifying your Time Machine Backup
  • Now, use the Drag-and-drop method to add the Time Machine backup to the list that should be indexed. Or, you should use the “+” button to browse the backup folder and then add it to the list.

Also, if you are facing the issue of iPhone stuck on preparing update, here are the top solutions for you.

04. Reboot your Mac and try to initiate a backup to fix ‘Time Machine Stuck On Preparing Backup’

Once you have deleted the .inProgress file, make sure that you reboot the Mac. Then, turn on the machine to initiate the Time Machine backup. If this method doesn’t work, you will have to choose a different method. For instance, you can use a professional tool like EaseUS Todo Backup for Mac.

Reboot your Mac and try to initiate a backup

Besides, read more about the best fixes for the MacBook camera not working issue.

Bonus: EaseUS Mac Data Recovery Software to Recover Mac Data

One of the most frustrating things for any Mac user is losing their precious data. If you have lost data due to any reason, you should not worry anymore. Instead, you can use a professional data recovery tool like EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and retrieve the data. Regardless of the amount of lost data, EaseUS Mac Data Recovery Wizard can get it back for you.

Features of EaseUS Mac Data Recovery

  • It can recover deleted, formatted, and corrupted data files.
  • EaseUS can recover images, video, music, audio, emails, documents, etc.
  • It can recover data that are lost due to any reason.
  • The entire recovery process is clean, safe, and secured.
  • It can even recover data from trash, memory, external hard drive, digital camera, etc.

Get EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac

Using EaseUS Mac Data Recovery

Mentioned below is how to use this tool.

  • First, you should choose the disk location (the device where the lost data was stored).
  • Click on the button labeled “Scan.”
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
  • Now, EaseUS will scan the respective disk volume. The files found will be displayed on the left pane.
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
  • In the scan result, choose the files you intend to recover and hit the button labeled “Recover Now.”
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

That’s it!

If you have any questions related to the “Time Machine stuck on preparing backup” issue, please comment below.


Ten years of experience in information and computer technology. Passionate about electronic devices, smartphones, computers, and modern technology.