The operation can't be completed because backup items can't be modified

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I wanted to clear a bit of space on my external ‘backup’ drive so I deleted more or less all of its time machine backups, excluding the file titled ‘latest’. I was doing this with a view to cloning my snow leopard hard drive, and putting the clone on the external.

Once in trash I tried to delete all these old, unnecessary backups. The process took probably half an hour, but then at the end informed me that backup items couldn’t be deleted.

Nonplussed, I went to trash. I couldn’t be bothered to get to the bottom of why so I thought I’d just put them back. I tried to, but then the message at the top appeared.

So basically now all these files, probably taking up about a terabyte, are just sat in trash- neither deletable, nor usable. Useless.

What do I do? D: Help here would be greatly appreciated.


System info:

- Mac pro Snow Leopard, 2007
- The backup disk I use is a WD Mybook for Mac.
 
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Update: this is worse than I thought. I didn't realise that you can't delete single items from trash. So basically, I now can't permanently delete anything, because those backup files are obstructing me from emptying trash. Help!
 
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I'd first ask, how you deleted your TM files?? Did you use TM or the Finder?

If the later, you created some problems for yourself.

You may want to salvage and save any non-Time Machine(TM) files/folders, turn off TM for now and erase the backup drive, and start again with TM.

Or just use a proper backup cloning all like Carbon Copy Cloner(CCC): ;)
https://www.bombich.com/download
 

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Update: this is worse than I thought. I didn't realise that you can't delete single items from trash. So basically, I now can't permanently delete anything, because those backup files are obstructing me from emptying trash. Help!

As member "pm-r" indicated, you did not properly delete the Time Machine backups. You can only delete them from within Time Machine itself. You probably will have to force empty trash and that will destroy the remaining Time Machine backups. Since they've already been corrupted by the improper deletions, reformat your Time Machine drive and start over.
 
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Hi guys; thanks as usual for the quick replies.

Yep, unfortunately I tried to delete using finder rather than time machine. I was probably high on diet coke at the time (3am today).

I've tried force emptying trash using the option button; it didn't work but came up with a slightly different error code this time. 'operation couldn't be completed; error code -8003'

i'm anxious to use a terminal command to force empty as i've heard of some of the ways it can mess your system up.

Any thoughts?
 
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Thanks for your time dude; unfortunately i couldn't find anything that helped there.

I'll level with you guys, i'm getting a bit desperate. This is exactly what I don't need right now; I'm working to a deadline, am a bit new to everything, and I really need that disk space back.

I simply don't have the money to hire a professional to physically check out my system although it's obvious that would be the best route

I've tried a lot of things now; among one of the only things i haven't tried is using the sudo command in terminal, despite some of the bad things i've heard of it,

A piece of advice i've been given is to use the command 'sudo rm -R ' then drag the trashed files in afterwards. Can you guys see any problems with this operation?

I really trust your opinions as I've gotten a lot of help from these forums before; i just really implore you to have a say on this before i do it as if anything goes wrong, well it would literally destroy my life. it's that simple. But if there's hardly any risks involved and i've simply over-dramatized the situation, then it would save me masses of time and stress just typing in that one command to solve the problem.

thanks again guys, i can't tell you how grateful i am for your support.
 
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For Heaven's Sake, if your data is that important to you, please make sure you have at least TWO current and working backups!! And at least ONE before you do any more mucking about.

As for emptying your Trash, you might want to grab a copy of Trash It! and use it to empty your Trash, and avoid Terminal. It's FREE as well!!

Grab it from here and check the reviews/comments if you're dubious:
Trash It! for Mac | MacUpdate

PS: If you're that short of space and can't afford a larger drive right now, you can probably cleanup about 4±GB of surplus language space if you don't need it using Monolingual.

It's safer than most, but read the manual to exempt some apps like the MS Office and Adobe suites. They won't update properly if "cleaned".
Monolingual for Mac | MacUpdate
 
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Ahaaaa you are a genius sir. Trash it worked a treat. I can breathe easier now.

Many, many thanks.
 
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Ahaaaa you are a genius sir. Trash it worked a treat. I can breathe easier now.

Many, many thanks.



Great, and I'm very glad to hear that it did. ;)

I'll also accept a click to add to my reputation by clicking on the thumbs-up icon in the upper right hand corner of my post. ;D
 

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