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  1. #1

    newby's Avatar
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    Deleting from Time Machine
    Hi

    I am have some large items on Time Machine that I no longer need. My time machine disk is now full as it has backed up various large files that no longer reside on my main drive.

    I now organise my discs so this doesn't happen.

    However, this is causing a problem with Time Machine (run out of space).

    Question: How do I delete individual items from Time Machine (doing it the usual way gives me a message saying back ups can't be modified)

    Is there a way to do this or will I have to erase the Time Machine? Which for obvious reasons I don't want to do!

    Thanks
    MacBookPro - 2.2 15" - Mac Mini - 2.5 2009 -MacPro Tower 2 x 3 Quad Core (Work) - iPhone 4 - iPad2, 2x Apple TV

  2. #2

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    Time Machine will automatically delete the oldest backups to make room for newer ones. Eventually, the files you don't need will get purged by that process. Basically, you don't need to do anything.

  3. #3

    McBie's Avatar
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    Launch Time Machine and in the Time Machine finder window, select the file/folder you want to delete.
    Then on the top menu of the finder, there is the option to " Delete all backups of <selected file/folder> " from the Time Machine backup.

    Do not manually start deleting files from a TM backup using the regular finder.

    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.

  4. #4

    newby's Avatar
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    Thanks guys!

    McBIe I think your's is the option I'll go with first mainly because my TM doesn't seem to be deleting anything!!!

    Thanks again guys

    :-)
    MacBookPro - 2.2 15" - Mac Mini - 2.5 2009 -MacPro Tower 2 x 3 Quad Core (Work) - iPhone 4 - iPad2, 2x Apple TV

  5. #5

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    TM doesn't delete anything until it runs out of space on the volume in which it is storing the backups. Then it deletes the oldest backup.

  6. #6


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    I never liked that "feature". Until I cleared everything out a few weeks ago, my TM drive was full, the backups took forever, and I couldn't use the drive for anything else.

  7. #7

    newby's Avatar
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    Yeah I'm having trouble with Time Machine. It's such a great idea but a bit more control would be good!
    MacBookPro - 2.2 15" - Mac Mini - 2.5 2009 -MacPro Tower 2 x 3 Quad Core (Work) - iPhone 4 - iPad2, 2x Apple TV

  8. #8


    Member Since
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    Deleting from Time Machine
    Interesting post.I've been a bit remiss having never done a back up on my 8 month old iMac! I guess I got complacent having never had a peep go wrong with a work supplied G4 that was backed up on a server regularly.
    Still, a few days ago I hooked up a LaCie 120GB mobile HD that I had in a drawer and am going to trust in Time Machine to do it's job. Logically though, what happens when/if a backup needs more than 120GB ? Do you guys think that I am under-achieving capacity wise?

  9. #9

    Slydude's Avatar
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    That depends upon how much you are backing up. If you are including system files and data in the backup them maybe. I personally prefer having a backup drive that is just a bit larger than the drive I am booting from.

    When a backup gets larger than the drive that it is backing up to Time Machine warns you that it will start deleting some information from the backup starting with the oldest data first.

    You might find ATPM 15.03 - How To: Time Travel: Introduction to Time Machine a helpful read. It covers an earlier version of Time Machine but the information should still be useful -- including some thoughts on data that can probably be excluded from a Time Machine backup.
    Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

    "Got Time to breathe. You got time for music." Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling

  10. #10


    Member Since
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    Slydude..that's an excellent article and many thanks for your response.I'll give it a good read again and make some decisions. Incidentally, is it easy to clear the external HD and restart Time Machine as if it's a new hook-up, I had some old data on it and would like to start from scratch?

  11. #11

    Slydude's Avatar
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    Thanks for the positive comment about the article. I'm always looking for new topics so if an idea comes to mind feel free to PM me.

    It's pretty easy to clear the external drive and remove old material to start with a fresh drive for Time Machine.

    1. If there are files on the external drive that you want to keep back those up first. What you are about to do will erase everything on the external drive.

    2. Launch Disk Utility and select the external hard drive in the pane on the left. Make sure you select the correct drive.

    3. Select the Erase tab. If necessary set the format to Mac Extended Journaled and click the Erase button.
    Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

    "Got Time to breathe. You got time for music." Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling

  12. #12


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    Thank you so much Slydude for the feedback... I'll get started on it until I upgrade my external HD. I'm assuming TM will then auto-perform a first back-up again? If I think of anything I'll certainly send you a PM. Don't want to sound over excited as we Brits are quite reserved but my first impressions of your forum are excellent.

  13. #13


    Member Since
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slydude View Post
    Thanks for the positive comment about the article. I'm always looking for new topics so if an idea comes to mind feel free to PM me.

    It's pretty easy to clear the external drive and remove old material to start with a fresh drive for Time Machine.

    1. If there are files on the external drive that you want to keep back those up first. What you are about to do will erase everything on the external drive.

    2. Launch Disk Utility and select the external hard drive in the pane on the left. Make sure you select the correct drive.

    3. Select the Erase tab. If necessary set the format to Mac Extended Journaled and click the Erase button.
    Hi, just to confirm that I erased the drive and then monitored Time Machine for an hour which didn't do an auto backup. I unmounted and remounted the disk and then selected the disk to be used for back up in the set up preferences. Time Machine then cleared the existing Oldest/Latest Back up info and then proceeded to do a first backup.

  14. #14

    sau124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by newby View Post
    McBIe I think your's is the option I'll go with first mainly because my TM doesn't seem to be deleting anything!!!
    and just a FYI - TM is not going to copy the same folder again and there won't be any reps. It will only save the change log. Don't worry it is smart enough to delete real old backups when it needs space.
    up there with the bEst of the bEst....

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