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OS X El Capitan Breaks Time Machine

If anything the issues in OS X El Capitan: Worst OS Release Yet were understated. New bugs are seen in every area of the system I use.

What’s worse than a bad bug? A data destruction bug, or a bug that destroys the ability to restore from a backup (backing up is one thing, but restoring has to function properly!).

OS X Capitan is guilty of both egregious faults: my contacts have been erased from my local machine with no means I can see of getting them back. All my VIP users in Apple Mail are empty (deleting and re-adding does not fix). That’s ugly enough.

But now, incredibly, it turns out that Enter Time Machine no longer works. Specifically, choosing Enter Time Machine from the TM menu starts drawing the user interface for getting to the backup, but it gets about half way done, then the screen redraws back to normal—Time Machine somehow gives up and quits. So there is no no way to restore a file (barring tedious command line invocations in Terminal perhaps).

Which renders my Time Machine backups useless for the way I want to use them—restoring a file or two that I overwrite by accident (I do that every few days or so with blog posts I accidentally overwrite; TM has been useful to restore the overwritten post).

MPG has never trusted Time Machine for full backups, because it “hides” the backups in its own obtuse format. An extra software layer to get to a backup is a Very Bad Idea, an assertion now proven by this bug in El Capitan which renders the Time Machine backup volume inaccessible for restoration purposes.

MPG recommends cloning for formal backup—Time Machine as an adjunct, only.

That is, if it works for you. Don’t assume that it works—try restoring a file to be sure.

Incompetence is running amok at Apple. Heads ought to roll for this OS X release. But it will probably get worse. It is notable that there is already a 4th beta of 10.11.1 out there in testing. The right process is to design and test thoroughly and to hold off release until it is rock solid. But the Apple approach now seems to be to ship on a calendar basis without regard for software quality. It speaks to a fundamental lapse in adult judgment.

Finder crash?

A nasty mess appears in the system log files, but it looks like the Finder itself is crashing when Enter Time Machine is chosen.

2015-10-15 15:50:56.897 Finder[69119]: *** Terminating app due to uncaught exception 'NSRangeException', reason: '*** -[__NSArrayM objectAtIndex:]: index 0 beyond bounds for empty array'
*** First throw call stack:
(
0 CoreFoundation 0x00007fff8dfa4bd2 __exceptionPreprocess + 178
1 libobjc.A.dylib 0x00007fff8ac87dd4 objc_exception_throw + 48
2 CoreFoundation 0x00007fff8debc055 -[__NSArrayM objectAtIndex:] + 245
3 Backup 0x00007fff835e6758 -[BU_TBackupView revealInAnimationComplete:] + 689
4 QuartzCore 0x00007fff962ae528 _ZN2CA5Layer23run_animation_callbacksEPv + 308
5 libdispatch.dylib 0x00007fff95d0f453 _dispatch_client_callout + 8
6 libdispatch.dylib 0x00007fff95d22c1c _dispatch_main_queue_callback_4CF + 1685
7 CoreFoundation 0x00007fff8df5a789 __CFRUNLOOP_IS_SERVICING_THE_MAIN_DISPATCH_QUEUE__ + 9
8 CoreFoundation 0x00007fff8df1973d __CFRunLoopRun + 1949
9 CoreFoundation 0x00007fff8df18d38 CFRunLoopRunSpecific + 296
10 Foundation 0x00007fff898f50f9 -[NSRunLoop(NSRunLoop) runMode:beforeDate:] + 270
11 Foundation 0x00007fff89989533 -[NSRunLoop(NSRunLoop) runUntilDate:] + 108
12 Backup 0x00007fff835e63b4 -[BU_TBackupView finishAllAnimations] + 138
13 Backup 0x00007fff835e8657 -[BU_TBackupView showHideRevealAnimation:] + 3833
14 Backup 0x00007fff835d0f19 _ZN17TBackupController23ShowHideRevealAnimationEb + 83
15 Foundation 0x00007fff899640be __NSFireDelayedPerform + 377
16 CoreFoundation 0x00007fff8df229f4 __CFRUNLOOP_IS_CALLING_OUT_TO_A_TIMER_CALLBACK_FUNCTION__ + 20
17 CoreFoundation 0x00007fff8df22683 __CFRunLoopDoTimer + 1075
18 CoreFoundation 0x00007fff8df221da __CFRunLoopDoTimers + 298
19 CoreFoundation 0x00007fff8df196d1 __CFRunLoopRun + 1841
20 CoreFoundation 0x00007fff8df18d38 CFRunLoopRunSpecific + 296
21 HIToolbox 0x00007fff8d39cd55 RunCurrentEventLoopInMode + 235
22 HIToolbox 0x00007fff8d39cb8f ReceiveNextEventCommon + 432
23 HIToolbox 0x00007fff8d39c9cf _BlockUntilNextEventMatchingListInModeWithFilter + 71
24 AppKit 0x00007fff8ffaaf3a _DPSNextEvent + 1067
25 AppKit 0x00007fff8ffaa369 -[NSApplication _nextEventMatchingEventMask:untilDate:inMode:dequeue:] + 454
26 AppKit 0x00007fff8ff9eecc -[NSApplication run] + 682
27 AppKit 0x00007fff8ff68162 NSApplicationMain + 1176
28 Finder 0x0000000100a6d828 Finder + 22568
29 libdyld.dylib 0x00007fff91ab35ad start + 1
30 ??? 0x0000000000000001 0x0 + 1
)

Workaround

Michael S writes:

I found the that I have the same issues. It’s related to dual monitor setups. I turned off the second monitor and initiated time machine and it worked. Crippled but not completely broken. Let me know if it works for you.

MPG: confirmed.

This is one more data point that proves that Apple does not bother to test with more than one display (there are a variety problems with dual displays interacting inparticular with various Apple features, such as Mission control, zoomed view, reader mode, etc). Same Apple Core Rot negligence.

Lance R writes:

I also wanted to say thanks for posting that, I found it via Google while experiencing this problem. I honestly wouldn't have thought to unplug my secondary screen.

MPG: No one would think of it, it was serendipity. You cannot make this stuff up: it is only testing incompetence and negligence that Apple doesn’t bother to run dual-display systems prior to shipping a major OS upgrade. This sort of stuff should have years of scripted QA tests behind it and should never make it out the door.

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