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Troubles with Time Machine

Posted: Fri Apr 10, 2015 12:50 pm
by drchuck
Troubles with Time Machine

I have been backing up my Mac forever or as Time Machine recorded since 2011. The back up keeps getting bigger and bigger without any identifiable benefit. As far as I am concerned, I would happily delete all backups prior to, say, January 1, 2014 but I cannot find any simple way to do that.

A few years ago, I would have happily dug into the Terminal AP and run sudo to fix it, but not so much any more.

Several possibilities occur to me,
1. Copy everything since January 1, 2014 to another drive and then reformat the existing drive and copy back
2. Delete everything prior to January 1, 2014
3. Buy a bigger, 4GB, HD and do as I have in the past, just copy the whole damned thing from the 3GB to the 4GB. But, frankly, I am getting tired of buying a bigger and bigger hard drive every year or so and of perpetuating many GBs of useless information

Do any of you have any suggestions of how to solve my dilemma?

Thanks

Re: Troubles with Time Machine

Posted: Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:09 pm
by rickj
There's no real reason to delete older backups- Time machine does it automatically. The only way you'll ever run out of space on your Time machine drive is if the data you need to back up is larger than the size of your drive.

To quote apple:

"Time Machine keeps hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups. The oldest backups are deleted when your backup drive becomes full."

Re: Troubles with Time Machine

Posted: Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:32 pm
by Stephen Hart
Hard drives are very inexpensive nowadays.
You could just put in a new drive, then set the older one on a shelf. Start Time Machine from scratch on the new drive. If you haven't seen any need to access the older one by the time the new one fills up, set it on a shelf and reformat the old one and start over. BTW, it'd be even better if the shelf were in a different location from your house.

Note that you can have two (or more) Time Machine drives connected at once. Time Machine will automatically use one, then the other, etc.

My main complaint in the past was the noise. But I switched to two 2T mini drives from Other World Computing, and I can barely tell if one's spinning. Furthermore, the spinup time is much shorter, so you'll see less delay if an app waits for external drives. I've made static clones on the older drives and keep some off site.

If you feel the need to delete specific items from a backup, for example some very large item that you no longer ever want to access, but got backed up to Time Machine, you can do that.
First customize your Finder window toolbar with the Action button. Then you can select an item while in the Time Machine interface and use the Action button to delete all copies of that item.

Re: Troubles with Time Machine

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:52 am
by drchuck
Thank you Stephen and Rick.

Your answers were essentially what I expected. I guess I do not know why I need to keep backups all the way back to 2011, but if I do, I do.

Someone could make a mint it he/she developed an app that would let a user prune the backups without resorting to using the TERMINAL.

Chuck Howerton

Re: Troubles with Time Machine

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:06 am
by Stephen Hart
drchuck wrote:Someone could make a mint it he/she developed an app that would let a user prune the backups without resorting to using the TERMINAL.
Apple's already making a mint, but...

As I wrote before, if you have specific big files you can delete them manually, using the Action dropdown or in Mavericks and newer, using control click.
You can do the same with individual backups.
Navigate to the backup you want to delete and then choose Delete Backup.

What you don't want to do is mess around deleting in the Finder representation of the backup files.

But as Rick says, the only real reason to do this manually is if you want a backup or all representations of a file gone for security purposes.