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10.5: Remove obsolete disks from Time Machine System
Leopard only hintBy now, everyone knows how to delete a file or folder from time-machine using the Gear menu in Time Machine's Finder view. But I was puzzled by the problem of deleting entries for an entire external disk I no longer had. Because that disk was no longer available, I could not simply attach the disk and then use Time Machine to delete the backups for it. You also can't do this with the Finder (it won't let you edit the Time Machine folder). And you probably would prefer not to do it by hand in Terminal, since there might be Time Machine database entries this would gum up.

The solution is to navigate in the Time Machine interface not to the disk itself, but to the backup entry for that disk on the Time Machine disk itself. Specifically, in Time Machine's Finder view, select the Time Machine disk, then enter the Backups.backupdb folder, and drill down to find the last entry for the obsolete disk. Then tell Time Machine to delete all backups of that entry. The original disk need not be connected!

If you think about this, it's an unexpected behavior since it's outside the standard paradigm of pointing to the "real file" you want to remove the backups of.

This is handy because Time Machine promiscuously tries to back up even temporarily-connected drives which might not be your own, leaving you with orphan backup entries you don't want. This has only been tested on 10.5, but probably works the same way in 10.6.
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10.5: Remove obsolete disks from Time Machine
Authored by: asmeurer on Oct 26, '09 08:48:49AM
Any idea how to move these backups to a different drive. I have some old backups that I would like to archive because I am running out of space on my backup drive. The Finder won't let me move them as the hint noted. Will the cp command work correctly? I would be nice if I could access the moved backups with Time Machine, but it isn't absolutely necessary.

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10.5: Remove obsolete disks from Time Machine
Authored by: Roger Workman on Oct 26, '09 10:30:53PM

This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but I wanted to move a couple of Time Machine archives from separate hard drives to a single Time Capsule. What I wound up doing was using Carbon Copy Cloner to make disk images of the old disks, and then copied those to the Time Capsule. The disk images are then mountable, and then (at least in theory) I should be able to restore files from the old backups.



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10.5: Remove obsolete disks from Time Machine
Authored by: scooby509 on Oct 27, '09 04:43:16AM

cp should work fine, as should simply copying from the Finder.



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10.5: Remove obsolete disks from Time Machine
Authored by: asmeurer on Oct 28, '09 06:16:49PM

Copying from the Finder does NOT work. If I try to drag the folder (this is a backup from an older computer that I am trying to move), I get "The volume is the wrong format for a backup." I will try cp, but I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't work because the way that backups are hardlinked.

As for the other commenter who noted that the backups will go away eventually, the whole reason that I want to move it to a different drive is to gain space to avoid Time Machine deleting old backups.



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10.5: Remove obsolete disks from Time Machine
Authored by: scooby509 on Oct 27, '09 04:46:31AM

To clarify my last comment: you'd want to copy the files to the new volume and then, if necessary, delete them from the Time Machine backup. Or just copy them to the new volume and leave the old backups alone; they'll go away eventually.



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10.5: Remove obsolete disks from Time Machine
Authored by: systemsboy on Oct 26, '09 02:17:23PM

In my tests this seems to work in 10.6 as well.

-systemsboy



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10.5: Remove obsolete disks from Time Machine
Authored by: osxpounder on Oct 26, '09 02:25:43PM

I didn't know about the Gear menu's uses in Time Machine views, or perhaps I forgot... so I'm grateful you mentioned that! Thank you.



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