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Thread: How do I delete sparse bundles using Command Line? Trying 2 reduce Time Machine files

  1. #1

    Member Since
    Nov 22, 2011
    How do I compact sparse bundles using Command Line? To reduce Time Machine files
    EDIT: I should have titled this thread "compacting sparse bundles using command line".

    Hi everyone. I'm new to this forum. I have a 2010 Macbook Pro with Snowleopard. Time Machine has gobbled up the majority of my 2TB external drive. I'd like to reduce the size of my back ups to 500Gb so I can use and older 500GB drive as my primary back up. I've been using a blog post I found on reducing Time Machine back up space, but I can't complete the last two steps regarding compacting the sparse bundles. If I understand correctly, compacting the sparse bundles will have a similar effect to defraging the drive like in Windows.

    Here is the blog post:Apolitically Incorrect Reclaiming Free Space from a Time Machine Backup

    The instructions say to mount the external drive.

    Open a new Line Command and type cd/volumes

    From there I can individually select the sparse bundles associated with the back up's I have deleted and erase them.

    When I open the Command Line utility and type cd/volumes it says it can't find the directory. Obviously I'm doing something wrong, but I have no idea what. I have no programing experience and am relatively OS illiterate. I read somewhere that snowleopard sparse bundles can grow and shrink, so maybe I don't need to complete this step??? Any help would be much appreciated.

  2. #2

    MacsWork's Avatar
    Member Since
    May 22, 2005
    Closer than you think.
    A.) First off, the CMD Line is case sensitive. Syntax is very important.

    cd /Volumes

    Notice the space as well as an upper case V

    B.) Time Machine is designed to use the whole backup drive. If you want to use the Time Machine drive for other things I suggest you create multiple partitions on the drive and specify the Time Machine partition.

  3. #3

    Member Since
    Nov 22, 2011
    Thanks for the reply.

    I actually bought another 1TB drive to dedicate solely to Time Machine. My problem is that back up files are larger than 1TB so I can move them until I shrink the size. I could partition my external, but I have nowhere to put all of my other backup files while I format it. Am I correct in assuming I can't partition a drive with data on it?

    Here is what the blog post says in Step 2:

    Step 2: Mount the Disk Using Finder

    Since we will be using a command line utility to compact the sparsebundle, you will need to mount your backup disk before proceeding. While this can be done a variety of ways, the easiest is to open up the finder and select the backup drive from the list under “Shared”. (When it is mounted, you will see a little eject symbol next to the computer name.)

    Now open up a command line terminal and go to the /Volumes/ folder.
    cd /Volumes/

    When I mount my external drive is appear on the left under devices not shared. I guess his external could be wirelessly connected. But when I open up the command terminal how do I know that it is "commanding" the external drive an not my Mac hard drive?

    Where do I type it? In the window that looks like a text file or the other window with a black background.

    Please, any light you could shed on the command line stuff would be much appreciated.

  4. #4

    McBie's Avatar
    Member Since
    Apr 26, 2008
    Be aware that Time Machine uses a database to keep track of its backups.
    If you fiddle around with the TM backup files manually, you will destroy the integrity of the TM database, resulting in another post here " Help, Time Machine is not working anymore " ... or something along those lines.

    A better way is to go into Time Machine and in the TM finder, select the file/folder you want to delete and there is a menu item that allows you to delete all occurrences of that file/folder.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers ... McBie
    A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.
    The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

  5. #5

    Member Since
    Nov 22, 2011
    I think I have been doing that. It is step 1 of the link I posted (below). Basically, open Time Machine. Pick individual back ups and delete using the "delete backup" option under the gear symbol pull down menu.

    Don't I have to compact the sparse bundle to take proper advantage of the newly opened space. Maybe I should change the name of my thread to "compacting sparse bundle".

    Step 1: Delete Backups from the Sparse Bundle

    Start by loading Time Machine from the root of your main hard drive. (In my case, the hard drive is named “RobOakes-Mac”.) Next, select the snapshot that you are interested in deleting from the timeline at right. Finally, press the gear button and select the “Delete Backup” option.

    Time Machine will ask if you want to proceed. Confirm that you do, indeed, want to permanently remove the selected backup by pressing the “Ok” button.

    At this point – if you’re using Snow Leopard – you may run into a rather obnoxious bug. For reasons that make little sense, the confirmation dialog box doesn’t always appear. Instead, the user interface might freeze and you’ll be treated to the spinning beach ball of death. If this happens, be patient. It might take a minute or two for Time Machine to go about it’s business. (Since this problem doesn’t exist on regular Leopard, go ahead and curse Apple’s grandiose, false, and self-serving rhetoric about parallelism. It might even make you feel better, I know it helps me.)
    When the **** beach ball finally goes away, just hit enter. Apparently, the dialog box really is there, you just can’t see it. So, use your imagination and pretend.
    Finally, you will be prompted to enter an administrator password.

    When you’re all finished deleting snapshots, click on the main “Cancel” button. This will take you back to your desktop.

    If everything worked as planned, you should see something similar to the screenshot below. There will be a “Delete One Backup” indicator for each of the backups you removed. Important: Wait for the indicators to finish before proceeding to the next step.

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