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29Nov 2012

FileMaker backups to a network share

About the Author

Wim Decorte Wim Decorte

Wim is a Senior Technical Architect at Soliant. He is a FileMaker 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 Certified FileMaker Developer and the author of numerous Tech Briefs and articles on FileMaker Server. Wim is one of the very few multiple FileMaker Excellence Award winners and was most recently awarded the FileMaker Community Leader of the Year award at the 2015 FileMaker Developer Conference. He is also a frequent speaker at the FileMaker Developer Conference and at FileMaker Developer groups throughout the world. In addition to being a renowned expert on FileMaker Server, Wim also specializes in integrating FileMaker with other applications and systems. His pet project is the open source fmDotNet connector class that he created (

Comments (9)

Anonymous - November 29, 2012

Hi Wim, great post.

Definitively a fan of using shell scripts to roll custom backups.

We had a lively debate at a meeting about the pros and cons of backing up to a firewire drive that…to quote the knowledge base article is a “drive connected directly to the machine”, perhaps with firewire 800. Wondering if you have heard any caveats regarding that set up…nothing that I can find in the FileMaker Server docs.



Wim Decorte
Wim Decorte - November 29, 2012

Hi Tony,

Some of the same concerns apply in the sense that the speed will be slower – making the backup longer than necessary – and the external drive has to be mounted / drive mapped for the backup to succeed, which adds a vulnerability to the deployment that may cause the backup to fail.  Using an AppleScript / shell script / batch file / VBscript you could trap for that kind of error when you try to copy or move the backup set after the local backup is done but you'll always have the local backup set even the external drive wasn't available.  And privileges may be an issue to overcome too.



Luciana - December 7, 2012

And what about your hosts doing back ups, are these effective and sercue, and would they keep several backups dating back a while?I guess this is up to individual hosts, it’s just such a mission doing back ups if you’re not quite tech savvy! And there are so many different things on the web about backing up, but they all seem to be written in hieroglyphics for the average person

Wim Decorte
Wim Decorte - December 12, 2012

Good point. It can be one of the drawbacks of a cloud hosted server that you do not have full control over the backups. That is certainly a risk to consider and to mitigate the risk it would take frequent testing to make sure that backups are running and that the backups are valid AND that you can get to them.

James Watt - February 22, 2013

Here you write:

“At the bottom of this very short entry they specify a few reasons why backing up remotely using a backup schedule is not supported or not a good idea.
1) Network backups will always take longer than local backups.
2) Network connections can break for various reasons.
3) There are fewer variables to deal with, in the event something should fail.

I agree with this completely. Let me expand a bit on those reasons.”

1). Really? We live in the age of gigabit LAN. I stream 1080p video across my network. Wirelessly even!
2). So do hard drives and servers, which is why we do a backup in the first place.
3). There’s also 0 redundancy. As a matter of fact, why have a backup at all? If your server fails, your backups certainly aren’t going to do anything.

Wim Decorte
Wim Decorte - February 27, 2013


Hi James,

Thanks for your comments. Network performance is always going to be slower than internal disk i/o, so a network backup is always going to take longer than an internal backup. Remember that FileMaker Server suspends user activity at the end of each backup to synchronize changes that have happened since the start of the backup. And that's the time frame you want to minimize. That time frame is going to be longer for a network backup. And the other aspect is risk mitigation. Backing up directly over the network carries more risk of failure than an internal backup. That is not the same as saying that a network backup *IS* going to fail, just that it is more likely. Given the importance of backups that is risk to be recognized and mitigated.

I certainly did not want to create the impression that i am advocating doing only internal backups. On the contrary. That why the article follows up on the "3-2-1" principle of backups and explains how you can use the OS tools to make sure you have backups away from the FileMaker Server machine. This approach I believe increases the chances of always having a backup to fall back on.

Paul Fenley - December 3, 2013

Re: FMS13 – Mac OS 10.9. I’ve been using Rob Russell SumWare Consulting’s shell script for many years, successfully, to backup my local server FM backups to a network drive that’s connected to DropBox. This script has been working fine until I updated my OS to Mavericks. The script runs on FMS13 fine, but it will not place the backup on my network share point any longer. I feel like Mavericks might not like fmserver being the owner of this script, but FMS reports no errors. Here’s the shell script code. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

# GOOD 11/29/10 5 Dec 2005 Rob Russell SumWare Consulting
# only change the next two lines of this script to suit your installation
source=”/Library/FileMaker Server/Data/Backups/Daily/”
# source defines the folder you want to archive. Only archive
# FileMaker Server backups, not the master files hosted by FMServer.
# destination is the place you want the archives sent
# ( best this be a separate volume )
# suffix is the time stamp to append to the destination
suffix=”$(date +%Y%m%d%H%M%S).zip”
# create symlink files in tmp folder, to deal with spaces in file paths
ln -s “$source” $sourcelink
ln -s “$destination$suffix” $destinationlink
# copy with pkzip compression and preserve resources
ditto -c -k –rsrc “$sourcelink” $destinationlink
#tar czvpf “$sourcelink”.tar.gz “$destinationlink”
# clean up the symlinks we created earlier

mkdir /Volumes/fmprobackup
/sbin/mount_afp afp://Administrator:password@ /Volumes/fmprobackup
disktool -r
# austin=”/Volumes/Austin/Backups/FileMaker_13/”
cp $destination$suffix $austin
#rm -f “$sourcelink”
#rm -f “$destinationlink”
#find $destination -name “*.zip” -mtime +10 -delete
#find $austin -name “*.zip” -mtime +10 -delete
#umount /Volumes/fmprobackup

Paul Fenley - December 3, 2013

Discovered the solution… finally.

mkdir /Volumes/fmprobackup
/sbin/mount_afp afp://Administrator:password@ /Volumes/fmprobackup/
disktool -r
austin=”/Volumes/fmprobackup/” *** WAS “/Volumes/fmprobackup/Backups/FileMaker_13/”

Wim Decorte
Wim Decorte - December 4, 2013

Thanks for the follow-up, Paul!


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