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  1. #1
    How do I compare then delete a Time Machine backup?
    Basically, I have a 26 Time Machine backups of my system's internal drive that I want to delete from an external drive.
    I'm pretty sure all the files in the backups are still on my internal drive, but I need to make sure before deleting.

    1. How do I confirm that all the files in the Time Machine backups are also on my internal drive?
    2. How do I delete the Time Machine backups after I confirm my files are safe? Can I just drag them to the trash?

    I have another backup system going and I will never use Time Machine again.

    Thanks,
    Chris

    macOS High Sierra
    v10.13.3
    Last edited by chrisdukes; 06-13-2018 at 01:59 PM.

  2. #2
    How do I compare then delete a Time Machine backup?
    MacInWin's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 01, 2009
    Location
    Winchester, VA
    Posts
    4,740
    Your Mac's Specs
    MBP 15" Mid 2015, iPhone XS, an iMac, plus ATVs, AWatch, MacMini
    Welcome to the forum. If all that is on the backup drive is the TM backups and if you are getting rid of ALL of them, you can use Disk Utility to Erase the entire drive. That's the fastest way to do it. Everything on the drive will be erased, both the TM backups and anything else there.

    As for confirmation, the only way is to compare file-by-file. There is no automated way to do that, it is up to you to examine everything that is key/important to you. You can probably skip the system files and things you don't care about.

    Assuming you have TM in automatic mode, those 26 files represent about 26 hours of your system. If you are using TM in some other way, you will have to tell us what you are doing before we can assess what those backups may have and how much checking you will have to do.

    You don't drag TM files to the trash. They aren't all "files" in the normal sense, but symbolic links to the unchanged files/folders of previous iterations of the TM process, with some chains of links going all the way back to the original backup. Messing with them as if they were real files will just lead to problems and usually the loss of data. Finder will not rebuild the chains of symbolic links that TM has created, so the chains will be broken and data lost. I don't know of any way within TM to delete backups. It handles that automatically when it runs out of space.

    Just curious, why are you abandoning TM? It's not perfect, but it does have some nice features.
    Jake

  3. #3
    How do I compare then delete a Time Machine backup?
    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
    Location
    Keller, Texas
    Posts
    56,617
    Your Mac's Specs
    2017 27" iMac, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 7+, Numerous iPods, Mojave
    Welcome to our forums.

    Just open the latest Time Machine backup that you have on file, and then open another Finder window side by side and compare. As for deleting the Time Machine backups... since you do not intend to use Time Machine again, just erase and format the external drive that holds the backups.

    And by the way, High Sierra has now been updated to 10.13.5. Be sure to upgrade after you're sure all your files are intact.

  4. #4
    Thanks for the detailed reply ManInWin, I didn't know that's how Time Machine worked. In answer to your question, this is a work computer I inherited from my predecessor and Time Machine's not appropriate for our workflow. TM seems more appropriate for backing up a full system instead of select large files and external HDs.
    And to both of you, I will start comparing right now...after I have some more coffee.

    So, I will I have to format the whole drive before I can delete the Time Machine backups? Someone suggested this in another forum: http://faqintosh.com/risorse/en/sys/setrash/

  5. #5
    How do I compare then delete a Time Machine backup?
    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
    Location
    Keller, Texas
    Posts
    56,617
    Your Mac's Specs
    2017 27" iMac, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 7+, Numerous iPods, Mojave
    So, I will I have to format the whole drive before I can delete the Time Machine backups? Someone suggested this in another forum: http://faqintosh.com/risorse/en/sys/setrash/
    You could delete the Time Machine backups one by one but that will take lots of time. As Jake pointed out above, Time Machine backups can only be deleted (properly) from Time Machine itself. For each one deleted, you would need to enter your Admin password. As I said, lots of work if you have numerous backups to delete.

    The easiest way in your situation is to erase and format the drive the backups are on. Very fast.

    The method listed in the "faqintosh" forum should never be used. Besides, that's a very old post for very old versions of macOS. Ignore it.

  6. #6
    How do I compare then delete a Time Machine backup?
    MacInWin's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 01, 2009
    Location
    Winchester, VA
    Posts
    4,740
    Your Mac's Specs
    MBP 15" Mid 2015, iPhone XS, an iMac, plus ATVs, AWatch, MacMini
    In answer to your question, this is a work computer I inherited from my predecessor and Time Machine's not appropriate for our workflow. TM seems more appropriate for backing up a full system instead of select large files and external HDs.
    Well, what TM does is to backup the entire system one time, then just those files/folders with changes get backed up after that. So, let's say that your system has some large files that change frequently and some others that never change (system files, etc). In that case the unchanging files get backed up once, then just linked to in subsequent backups. The files which change get backed up and new links created to them in subsequent backups. That way, if a work file gets inappropriately changed and included in a backup or two, it is possible to go back in time (hence the name of the application) and retrieve the file from before the inappropriate change. For business, that can be very handy.

    But as long as you have backups, just about anything will do and it's up to you what your biggest risks are and that need to be covered.
    Jake

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