MacOS Time Machine Question

I get that I should not use Time Machine on MacOS to restore anything related to Roon, and I never would.

But is there significant risk to my database in letting Time Machine include it in its backups?

This is for a Roon Core running MacOS 13.1 - I am about to go to a new Mac and while I WILL install Roon fresh and restore databases using Roons functionality I’d like to pretty much restore everything else to the new machine from the current machine as is.

Great question and I think (but I’m not certain) that Time Machine can be used as a backup file server as long as you copy your entire RoonBackup folder to another drive and restore from that other drive. Have you looked at these guides to assist you in the migration:

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Yes, thank you. I have read those and they don’t quite cover it.

What I want to do is get the new machine restored, ensure it’s running in the same state as the previous one (they will both be on identical OSs) THEN install RoonServer and restore my database from Roon itself. That database will be restored from a previous, Roon-created backup NOT from TM.

I have excluded the ~/Library/RoonServer directory from my current TM backups, so I think I am safe but just wanting some assurance from the community.

I’m glad to reinstall and restore Roon and its database myself on the new machine, using Roon’s tools. No TM. I know that’s the best way.

My hope is I can use Time Machine to get everything else easily the way I like it on the new machine.

Thank you.

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There shouldn’t be any issue using Time Machine to back up and restore everything else on the machine. However, if you know you can’t use the Time Machine backup or Roon, why not exclude it from the Time Machine backups? Including it only serves increasing the size of the general backup for no gain - and I suppose the Roon database files change a lot, so would be backed up every time.

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Yes - I think our messages crossed each other in transit - that is what I am doing. Excluding Roon DB from TM.


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PS - also my wording was not clear. sorry

And I didn’t notice the later “I have excluded the ~/Library/RoonServer directory” part :slight_smile:
Enjoy your new machine

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I’m not sure why people on this forum believe Time Machine can’t be used to backup AND restore Roon. I have done it three times now as I’ve upgraded the computer my Roon Core was on. It’s important that Roon is not running when the backup is made to eliminate problems with the database. As long as you meet that one requirement, Time Machine will do the job as expected. Every time I’ve done it Roon has opened on the new machine with everything intact and no tweaking required.


The problem might be that it’s difficult to predict when Time Machine may run. My Macbook wakes and sleeps randomly during my usage and sometimes a backup will run completely unnoticed. (and depending on whether the NAS is on). Which is how it should be

I use Time Machine on my Roon Core in the normal way, that is hourly backups and then longer times in between. However, every time I’ve moved to a new machine I’ve made a final backup with Roon closed. There isn’t anything about the database that prevents it from being backed up. The problem comes up if the backup takes place while Roon is modifying the database. By the way, this situation isn’t limited to Time Machine, any backup process while the database is being modified can cause problems.

Yeah and then people forget that and the result is in practice that their time machine backup didn’t work. From a practical point of view it may be easier to promote the “back up with Roon” process.

I backup my database to the NAS my music is on as is standard Roon procedure but I suspect “Backup with Roon Closed” is easier than the process of drilling down through Roon Settings to find the process to restore your Database from the Roon Backup. But as always, YMMV.

I can’t speak for the entire forum but in my case I was cautious because Roon “strongly recommends” against relying on TM and the like to backup the database, which led me to ask the question I did.

You’re doing the right thing.

Databases are complicated. While they’re operating, they typically temporarily store data in log files which later get “checkpointed” into primary files. If a backup system, such as Time Machine comes along at a time when the database is doing a checkpoint operation (or frankly any write operation), the individual files can be backup up in an inconsistent state. All bets are off if they are later “restored”.

Let Roon do its backups. Trust those. They will be internally consistent and also version resilient such that if a version of Roon that is later than the version which created the backup is asked to restore it, it’ll know what to do. Back those backups up with Time Machine or some other strategy to get them secured safely.

What @Dave_Richardson is describing is a fine strategy for an expert user to employ when moving to a new machine. Shut down Roon completely, let Time Machine back up. Get everything onto a new machine (including exactly the same Roon binaries), then start Roon. That should work fine. But it’s an expert operation, done very carefully, by an expert user who is trying to move to a new machine. It’s not going to work reliably for other database restore cases including disaster recovery since you can’t rely on the integrity of the hourly backups. Certainly this thread shouldn’t give anyone the impression that Time Machine is a reasonable alternative to Roon’s internal backup mechanism used according to Roon’s guidance.


My M is not the problem. I am just saying for the general population of not too computer-savvy users, it may be easier to remember to back up up from Roon. I am sure Roon staff made their experiences leading to this recommendation

Leveldb, which is the database that Roon relies on, is an in-memory system with disk flushes for persistence. But the databae on the disk is only guaranteed to be in a consistent state after a sit down. So Time Machine or any backup approach of the database is only going to work when the backup happens. And given how passive & unpredictable Time Machine is (feature, not bug) that means if you are relying on a TM backup of a Roon system that is always running, you’ll very likely be disappointed.

That said, Roon backups that happen through the Roon system write out only when the the core is effectively shut down/inactive. So once Roon has done a backup you can copy it however you want - rsync, active backup by Synology, drag and drop, Time Machine, whatever. They are just files. So long as you get the whole directory structure, you should be fine to back up the backup. The only risk is if you run your backup process while the Roon backup is active. But if Time Machine is rubbing reasonably frequently you’ll get a successful restore point at some point because a Roon backup doesn’t take that long.

Hope that’s helpful.

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