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How to delete Time Machine backups

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm lost in trying to delete the backup directories created by Time Machine. I've moved disks around on my network and TIme Machine doesn't seem to remember that it's backed up a given system to a given disk previously, after moving the disk to a different server. So I'm content to start over and I went to /Volumes/Backupdisk/Backups.backupdb and tried 'sudo rm -rf *' to get rid of the existing backups in preparation to start over. It wouldn't let me remove them getting the error 'Operation not permitted'. I note that 'ls -l' shows a lot of rwxr-xr-x@ with the @ sign at the end and I'm assuming that this is a hard link, but I don't know. I'm also thinking this is why rm won't work - multiple hard links?

Any unix guru out there that can help? I really don't want to re-format the disk. BTW I am currently trying to use Time Machine to delete all the file but that is taking FOR EVER and I'm not sure its actually doing anything. Its been about 30 minutes and there's been not reported increase in disk space. Its like its still preparing to delete.

Thanks in advance for any help.
post #2 of 22
One thing that Time Machine dose is create hard links to folders which isn't allowed under regular unix. So I would think that the typical command line tools would choke on these.

Doesn't the app' itself have a way to "start over"?
post #3 of 22
Just drag Backups.backupdb to the Trash in Finder and Empty Trash.
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by King Chung Huang View Post

Just drag Backups.backupdb to the Trash in Finder and Empty Trash.

That's might work, eventually and I might try that overnight but after 1 hour of no progress I was looking for a faster way. There must be some Apple create command line tool equivalent to rm. Just don't know where/how to find it.
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mydo View Post

One thing that Time Machine dose is create hard links to folders which isn't allowed under regular unix. So I would think that the typical command line tools would choke on these.

Doesn't the app' itself have a way to "start over"?

Not that I can find.
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mydo View Post

One thing that Time Machine dose is create hard links to folders which isn't allowed under regular unix. So I would think that the typical command line tools would choke on these.

Doesn't the app' itself have a way to "start over"?

Yes and no. The way Time Machine does hard links is by not allowing recursive hard links to folders. It won't allow one to do such a dumb action and that dumb action is the reason UNIX traditionally didn't include hardlinks to folders and does allow symlinks.
post #7 of 22
Hey Guys

There may be a really easy way to do this.

Open time Machine. Go to the top level i.e the one with your HD. Navigate to the backup you want to delete and use the actions menu in the Finder toolbar. It has an option to delete the backup. Also, when using the actions menu, with a file or folder selected there is an option to delete all instances of the file/folder from all backups.


Just reading this and having stumbled upon ways to do certain things in Leopard, makes me think that it is a bit remiss of Apple not to have all these things documented for easy viewing on the net. Instead people are ending doing all sorts of crazy things when there is an easy way to do it.
post #8 of 22
Yup. It does work. I just deleted a rather large backup that I really didn't want and got 7.9 GB back.
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iGrouch View Post

Yup. It does work. I just deleted a rather large backup that I really didn't want and got 7.9 GB back.

I'm glad to here it works, in principle, but so far it has not seemed to work for my 73 GB backup. I admit I only gave it 1 HOUR before frustration set it. How long did your 7.9 GB delete take???

I'm amazed that there is no command line version of 'rm' to delete these, or no information from Apple as to what the command-line version is.

BTW, if your interested, the unique identifier for a given backup is the MAC address of the Ethernet port (not AirPort) of the Computer being backed up.
post #10 of 22
The deletion of the 7.9GB update was instantaneous.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iGrouch View Post

The deletion of the 7.9GB update was instantaneous.

Well, I started the delete before I left for work and checked it about 3 hours later and it had completed. Now, this 73 GB was composed of about 1.3 million files, so maybe - BUT - I would really like to know how to remove these from the command line, if anyone knows.
post #12 of 22
I found a solution here...

Code:

sudo fsaclctl -p /Volumes/<yourVolume> -d



Will disable ACLs on this volume. Then you can do a:

Code:

cd /Volumes/<yourVolume>/Backups.backupdb/<yourMachine>


Code:

sudo find . -maxdepth 1 -ctime +1 -exec rm -rfv {} \\;





To delete all backups created more than a day ago (or substitute any other 24 hour period as an argument for ctime)
post #13 of 22
I was googling a way to do this and came upon this thread. Just thought I'd throw my voice in here and say that I found the quickest way was to just open Disk Utility and erase the partition of my drobo that housed my Time Machine backup. It works if Time Machine is the only thing on the drive or partition. I had a 400ish GB backup and deleting it any other way would take FOREVER.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by iGrouch View Post

Hey Guys

There may be a really easy way to do this.

Open time Machine. Go to the top level i.e the one with your HD. Navigate to the backup you want to delete and use the actions menu in the Finder toolbar. It has an option to delete the backup. Also, when using the actions menu, with a file or folder selected there is an option to delete all instances of the file/folder from all backups.


Just reading this and having stumbled upon ways to do certain things in Leopard, makes me think that it is a bit remiss of Apple not to have all these things documented for easy viewing on the net. Instead people are ending doing all sorts of crazy things when there is an easy way to do it.

Hi, ive got some serious issues with time machine now.
Erm basically i tried to delete a 3 large backup file by drag and drop into trash, which seemed to work for two of them... The third however, wont delete. i press empty trash and its prepares it but then an error message occurs saying "cannot delete file as Users in use"
Ive tried to move the file back on to my external HD (the one i use for timemachine ), a message comes up saying u must authenticate the file.. but no box appears in order to type my password..
has anyone got any ideas ?
thanks
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by iGrouch
Yup. It does work. I just deleted a rather large backup that I really didn't want and got 7.9 GB back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by physguy View Post

I'm glad to here it works, in principle, but so far it has not seemed to work for my 73 GB backup. I admit I only gave it 1 HOUR before frustration set it. How long did your 7.9 GB delete take???

I'm amazed that there is no command line version of 'rm' to delete these, or no information from Apple as to what the command-line version is.

BTW, if your interested, the unique identifier for a given backup is the MAC address of the Ethernet port (not AirPort) of the Computer being backed up.

I don't know what you are doing, physguy, but only last week I cleared a full external Time Machine backup HD, 300GB, in minutes with Disk Utility's 'Erase' command...

Time Machine needs to know what external HD to backup to. So, with the new, empty, external HD you want to backup to connected and mounted on the desktop, open Time Machine Preferences, click 'Change Disk', select the new, empty, external HD you want to backup to from the list. Click 'Use for Backup'. Then click 'Backup Now' (in the Time Machine menu in the menubar) and go grab a cup of coffee, or two, because a completely new incremental backup set will be generated on your 'new' Time Machine Backup Disk. The first backup being a complete one, obviously, which may therefore take a couple hours. Depending on the amount of data to backup and the interface class you run: FireWire800, FireWire400, USB2, eSATA, 802.11b/g/n, etc.
post #16 of 22
i just highlighted all the back ups and then sent them to the trash but the TM still says it has the same amount of memory and now it says i dont have enough room to create a backup? did i do the wrong thing?
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ronbrasco View Post

i just highlighted all the back ups and then sent them to the trash but the TM still says it has the same amount of memory and now it says i dont have enough room to create a backup? did i do the wrong thing?

Did you empty the trash?
post #18 of 22
Is it possible to select a bunch of really old backups easily? I have about 8 months of backups and would like to delete, say, anything older than 2 months.
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by elisabethrobson View Post

Is it possible to select a bunch of really old backups easily? I have about 8 months of backups and would like to delete, say, anything older than 2 months.

You can delete folders within backups. Not an entire date's backup at once.

From within the Time Machine interface, you can go back and delete a folder from such and such time.


Edited by Tallest Skil - 1/8/13 at 8:52am
post #20 of 22

Same issue, and can't just drag the Backups.backupbd because trash can't empty then. It will start going into the negatives with what to delete, and you are forced to cancel (I waited into the -400,000's before cancelling and tried multiple times) please help anybody!

post #21 of 22
Originally Posted by Kyran3 View Post
Same issue, and can't just drag the Backups.backupbd because trash can't empty then. …please help anybody!

 

Sure: undo this. Put the folder back and then wipe the drive itself using Disk Utility. Just recreate it exactly as it was, but empty. Then use it again.

post #22 of 22

I've done this part and then Empty trash yet it leaves all the old time machine backups still in the Trash

Even when secure empty trash they still stay in the trash

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