FIXED: Time Machine error SparseBundle already in use

So, Time Machine decided it would blankly refuse to back up today.. It seemed to think that the SparseBundle file was still in use, despite the fact it was a fresh install and it was the very first backup! Turn’s out it’s quite a simple issue to fix (at least it was in my situation)

  1. Open Finder
  2. Open the Utilities folder
  3. Open the AirPort utility
  4. Double click on your Time Capsule
  5. Select the ‘Disks’ tab
  6. Click the button to disconnect all users
  7. Launch the Time Machine preferences
  8. Click ‘Backup Now’
You should now find your Time Machine will finally complete the backup as expected.
NB: This may have occurred as I have recently upgraded to Lion, and was wanting to continue using the same SparseBundle file.

What is a SparseBundle?


Mac OS X v10.5 (Leopard) introduced the concept of the sparse bundle. Instead of a monolithic file, a sparse bundle is a bundle (directory) that stores the disk image as banded data files. When the content of the image changes, one or more band files is changed, created, or deleted. This allows backup software (such as Time Machine) to operate more efficiently. You may use a tool such as rsync to keep your disk image(s) consistent across various systems


Mike Hudson

Mike Hudson is a Lead Cyber Security Analyst living and working in Kingston Upon Hull. With extensive experience in Microsoft and Apple technologies, ranging from desktop OS’s to Server OS’s and hardware. By day working as part of an infrastructure team, and by night ridding the world of IT issues through blog posts..

%d bloggers like this: