How does Retrospect 6.x for Macintosh handle FileVault and other Sparse Images
  • 24 Oct 2023
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How does Retrospect 6.x for Macintosh handle FileVault and other Sparse Images

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Article summary


The sparseimage files change constantly and therefore will always get backed up by an IncrementalPLUS backup. Because of this and because the files can get quite large and under most circumstances cannot be restored properly, Retrospect recommends against enabling FileVault or using sparse images on the backup computer and client computers.

If you must enable FileVault or use other sparse image types there are a few steps you must take to ensure that all user data is backed up and available for restore:

  • Make sure all FileVault users are logged in
  • Make sure 3rd party Sparse Image files are mounted on the desktop so they can be selected as an individual volume within Retrospect.
  • Choose their volumes as backup sources (these volumes appear on the desktop)

If a local or client computer has multiple accounts for users that have FileVault enabled, all those users must be logged in.

When they are logged in, their user folders appear in Retrospect?s Volume Selection window as separate volumes (in either the Local Desktop container or as a client volume). For example, if the FileVault user "Chester" is logged in, a new volume named "Chester" is listed in Retrospect’s Volume Selection window.

In order to ensure that user data is backed up, the FileVault users' volumes must be selected as sources. 3rd party sparse image files must be mounted to the desktop. Selecting the startup disk volume will not back up the users' data correctly. Selecting the Local Desktop container, Backup Clients container, or a specific client will also select the FileVault or mounted image volumes it includes.

See the Retrospect User’s Guide for more details


As with backups, users' Filevault-protected home directories must be treated as separate volumes, as if they were on a separate HD. Since a Duplicate operation can only have one source and one destination, individual duplicate operations must be performed for each logged in user in addition to the main duplicate. Users who are not logged in at the time of duplicate will have their sparseimage files duplicated and will not have their home directories copied.

Leopard 10.5

In Mac OS 10.5, Apple changed how FileVault saves the sparseimage files. Rather then using a single giant file, the encrypted data is stored as individual small files in a folder named?username.sparesebundle. Retrospect 6.1.138 and 7.5.508 and earlier does not automatically exclude this folder from backup, resulting in wasted backup media.

Users should create a selector to exclude Enclosing Folders with a name that ends with .sparesebundle

Users should follow the steps listed to backup the mounted users' folder.

Last Update: February 14, 2012

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