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  1. #1
    Trying to Delete Backups with TMUTIL
    I have been using an external Time Machine USB Disk to backup both an older El Capitan drive and a newer larger High Sierra drive in my Mac Pro. Recently the El Capitan drive failed. I no longer need to boot up in El Capitan and Iím trying the recover the space its backups are taking up on my external drive. Since I donít have the drive anymore Iím trying to use TMUTIL to manually delete the El Capitan backups.

    I tried the following command:

    billyjb$ sudo tmutil delete /Volumes/Backup/Backups.backupdb/MacPro/2018-11-26-201925/EL_Capitan
    Password:

    But I get the following response:

    /Volumes/Backup/Backups.backupdb/MacPro/2018-11-26-201925/EL_Capitan Invalid deletion target (error 22)
    Total deleted: 0B

    Any thoughts on why I am getting this error? I have SIP disabled.

  2. #2
    Trying to Delete Backups with TMUTIL
    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
    Location
    Keller, Texas
    Posts
    58,909
    Your Mac's Specs
    2017 27" iMac, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 7+, iPhone 8, Numerous iPods, Mojave
    Rep Power
    53
    I can't explain the error but you should be able to delete the backups by attaching the drive to your Mac Pro, enter Time Machine, and then delete the backups one by one. It will take some time and the entering of your admin password for each deletion but it should work.

  3. #3
    Trying to Delete Backups with TMUTIL
    ferrarr's Avatar
    Member Since
    May 21, 2012
    Location
    Pawtucket, RI, US
    Posts
    6,853
    Your Mac's Specs
    L2014 Mac mini macOS 15, iPhone 8+ iOS 13, 12.9" iPad Pro 1 iPadOS 13,  Pencil 1
    Rep Power
    13
    Usually, there are separate folders on the Time Machine drive, for each Mac(or drive) being backed up? That’s only possible, if you set up TM from System Preferences within each version of the OS, and not just from one OS?

    I would just do it through Finder.
    -- Bob --
    Please backup. Everything has a life cycle, unexpected and warning free. Nothing will last as long as you want it to.

  4. #4
    Thanks for the responses. It was called to my attention in another forum that TMUTIL will not delete a file or folder inside a snapshot. In the snapshot directory is the EL_Capitan disk but also two other disks that I still use and backup. When I leave off "EL_Capitan" TMUTIL works but deletes the entire snapshot folder which I did not want. I think the lesson here is if you want to have backups of multiple internal drives on one large external drive you should partition your external drive so each drive has its own partition. As a work-around for this issue I made a temporary partition on my largest internal drive and will let Time Machine restore EL_Capitan and then use TM to delete the files from the internal and external drive. It just seems like an awkward workaround for something tmutil should be able to do.

  5. #5
    Trying to Delete Backups with TMUTIL
    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
    Location
    Keller, Texas
    Posts
    58,909
    Your Mac's Specs
    2017 27" iMac, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 7+, iPhone 8, Numerous iPods, Mojave
    Rep Power
    53
    Thanks for posting back and glad you found a solution. Have you considered using Carbon Copy Cloner instead of Time Machine? CCC also creates snapshots and does everything that Time Machine does only with a lot less headache. You would need to have separate external hard drives for each of your backups but that should not be a problem.

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