Connection Failed

How to fix “Connection failed” error on Mac

In Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks by andre19 Comments

Every time I booted my iMac, I would get the error message  “Connection Failed” – something looking for a server that was no longer there, clicking on OK would solve the problem and the computer would function normally until… yeah you got it!

The exact error message is: “Connection failed. The server “XXXXX” may not exist or it is unavailable at this time. Check the server name or IP address, check your network connection, and then try again.” Well yeah, that was one of my old laptops and it sure is no longer there. This message will only come up when booting up the computer or with certain programs that looked for hard drives or network connections, like bumptop.

A call to Apple Support revealed not much actually, just lots of trouble shooting and then a mysterious solution. Renaming the “” file in my Home>Library>Preferences folder to something else (just in case)  and restarting the computer solved the problem.

Not even Apple’s support guy was able to pin down the exact cause, but we came up with a pretty good theory: Most likely there was an item on my that did not show under SystemPreferences>Accounts>LoginItems, most likely a leftover from a previous computer. When I restarted the iMac, OS X, most likely, re-created the from an older cached file and included only those items that were actually available on the hard drive or the network at the time, leaving out the erroneous entry, hence solving the problem.

Image Credit: Kārlis Dambrāns


  1. Thank you for this post. Your advice solved my sudden inability to connect two macs on my network. This problem arises from time to time for no apparent reason, at least to me.

  2. After trying everything (including this), it still didn’t work. At last I tried by IP address, and surprise! It’s working. Not a satisfying one, but at least the hammer get back into the toolbox, and the Macbook is still intact. For now.
    btw it’s amazing how Apple keeps alive the problem for almost a decade now.

  3. Why do MACs exist?

    It’s such an expensive piece of trash!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. They are all good in their own ways.
        I have a Mac. Many Macs since 1986. And a few Linux machines too. Linux is strong and creative, very versatile and useful. Macs run on Unix too. All good.

  4. Just wondering… what if this error message appears for a server that is still being used and you want to get it back? My family recently changed internet service providers.

  5. I am having the same problem. I am able to connect to the internet through my airport using WIFI but I cannot access my Time Capsule at all, hence no access to any files on the Time Capsule and no back-up has been made with Time Machine since this problem started. I am still getting the error message. Help!

  6. Hi,

    I have had same problem and tried the following which seems to have resolved this issue…

    System Preferences…Accounts….Login Items…
    Remove all items in the list by selecting and clicking on the ‘-‘ button/icon.

    I had quite a few items in the list including an old network drive that I no longer use, when I restarted my iMac the error message no longer appeared.


  7. Just purchased an iMAC with o/s Lion, the Finder can see my network drive (NTFS) but cannot read it “Connection Failed” message display every time trying to get to my photos. My Labtop with older O/S Snow Leopard has no problem at all. What can I do to fix? I am not upgrading my laptop to Lion until this fix is satisfied. What have I not done or done wrong.

    Please help

  8. I had the same problem! I have a TM 1 tb and a WD usb drive connected to it. When I open movies through the WD disk I didnt get this message, but when I open movies through the TM hard drive Ive got just this message.

    I opened AirPort Utilities, and changed the name of my Time Machine, from “David Strömbergs Time Machine” to “Davids Time Machine”. Now it works great. Dont know if the letter “ö” caused the problem, or just by changing the name solved it. Try it!

  9. This worked for me. I viewed the contents of that file before I renamed it and there was for sure nothing related to the server I was connected to – dropbox, vmware, choosy, and one other item – but renaming it did the trick for my other computer! Thanks!!!

  10. I figured it out with the detail here:

    My error was being unable to connect to my Time Capsule.
    In System Preferenced – Accounts – Login items, my Time Capsule was shown with the “Unknown” kind. Marking it with Hide did not fix the problem. I deleted the entry and now my system boots without the error. My Time Capsule is there and is backing up so it’s still a mystery, but the irritation is gone. Always a good thing that.

  11. This didn’t work for me either. My error is “Connection failed” when connecting to my TIme Machine. It’s IP has not changed. I OK the message and everything boots and connects as it should, including the Time Machine.

    It’s PITA but I need to take this MBP in for hardware work anyway. Maybe then can help me.

    Happy, Merry 12/24/2010

  12. I had this problem too. This advice didn’t solve my problem. I found out after many weeks of agonizing search and after talking to a Apple helper that my ip address had changed on my HP pc computer.

    Here’s what I did to find out the ip address…

    On Vista,click start and open up the smart search in bottom left hand corner of the screen, type in…. cmd then press “enter”.

    A dos type window opened up, I typed in… ipconfig

    As well as a list of garble, the ip address was there…

    Write it down and when you try to connect to your server in the Mac, make sure that your ip address is the same!

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