1 2 Previous Next 15 Replies Latest reply: Dec 3, 2009 11:05 AM by Pondini
MPOston Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Hello,

So I recently decided I'd like a bit more free space on my external hard drive (500 GB) just because I didn't like that so much space was going to TM backups. I didn't try to just grab them and throw them in the trash, I tried the deletion by going into TM, gear menu, delete backup. I put in my password it disappeared from TM, but I didn't get back any space on my hard drive. It was 66 GB free before and after I deleted the backup. Then I tried the Trash Can route and deleted an ~40GB backup. It gave the the dialogue about locked files (or something) and I pressed okay. I only got back 6 GB from that, now I'm at 72GB free.

So my question is where is all the free space that should have been freed up by deleting backups and will I have to reformat the HD to get it back? I'm not particularly bothered with TM backups, but there is other stuff on the HD that I would prefer not to have to erase.

MacBook Pro 2009, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • 1. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (27,950 points)
    You should never mess with your Time Machine backups in the Finder. If you have, as it sounds like you did, you've probably damaged your backup.

    I'm also curious why you are trying to free up space. Time Machine will try to fill the hard drive, and will then start deleting some of the oldest files from the backup as needed to clear space for new backups. Just leave TM alone and let it manage things. And don't try to use the backup drive for anything other than backup.

    For more info about Time Machine, see the documents linked to at the top of this forum.
  • 2. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    MPOston Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    And Finder also says I have used 327 GB (out of 400 GB, it's partitioned), but the separate folders add up to 146 GB more than that. Backups are 193 GB, then I have folders with 54 GB and 226 GB. I am adding up the sizes of each backup manually now to see if it is less than 193.
  • 3. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    MPOston Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    No I deleted the backups the proper way, through the Finder-like Time Machine interface (in TM, find the date you want to get delete then go to gear menu and Delete Backup, then put in password). Yes, it is a bit weird that I want to manage TM manually, but people do regularly delete backups manually (not w/ Trash Can), I'm just wondering if they get back the space. I will be able to reformat in about a month, but until then I guess I have to deal with lost hard drive space?
  • 4. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (27,950 points)
    No idea at all what all of that meant.
  • 5. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (27,950 points)
    Yes, it is a bit weird that I want to manage TM manually, but people do regularly delete backups manually


    Not with Time Machine... you should not delete backups manually. Just let it do its job. See the last item on [Pondini's FAQ|http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1964018].

    I will be able to reformat in about a month, but until then I guess I have to deal with lost hard drive space?


    If this lost space is on your Time Capsule, don't worry about it. Quit looking, leave the TC alone, and just let TM manage the space. You shouldn't be storing anything else there anyway, so it doesn't matter whether you've got empty space. The ultimate goal of TM is to not leave any empty space, taking up all the available space with backups.
  • 6. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    MPOston Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Right, I do store other things on the partition I use for TM (it's not a Time Capsule). Perhaps that's a bad idea, so when I reformat, I will create a separate partition for TM exclusively. And go into TM and click the gear menu, you'll see the "Delete Backup" option, so I'm not doing anything stupid or crazy. I'm just confused because I thought deleting a backup would free up the space. Okay well nevermind, thanks.
  • 7. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (27,950 points)
    Right, I do store other things on the partition I use for TM (it's not a Time Capsule). Perhaps that's a bad idea, so when I reformat, I will create a separate partition for TM exclusively.


    Yes, that's definitely what you should do. You shouldn't try to share your backup volume with anything else... it's only job should be backups. However, one question... you mention "the partition I use for TM." Please, please, please tell me that you're not backing stuff up from one partition to another on the same physical drive!!! If that's what you're doing, you don't really have a backup. If your drive fails, it all disappears.

    And go into TM and click the gear menu, you'll see the "Delete Backup" option, so I'm not doing anything stupid or crazy. I'm just confused because I thought deleting a backup would free up the space.


    Just because the option is provided does not mean it should be used. The gear menu in the Finder will let you move your entire System folder to the trash. There certainly may be some good reasons to delete files from the backup, but just to free up space on the backup drive is not one of them. As to why you're not seeing that space freed up in the Finder, I have no idea.
  • 8. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    MPOston Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    No, I have partitioned my external HD, so I am using one of those partitioned for TM among other things. And that was my question, why am I not getting back the space after deleting backups (which may not be good idea, but I've still done it)?
  • 9. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)
    MPOston wrote:
    No, I have partitioned my external HD, so I am using one of those partitioned for TM among other things. And that was my question, why am I not getting back the space after deleting backups (which may not be good idea, but I've still done it)?


    There is no problem deleting individual backups (or all backups of selected items), via Time Machine. You will get space back, but not usually as much as you may expect (see below).

    But the one you did delete via the Finder may have corrupted your backups. Use +Disk Utility+ in your Applications/Utilities folder to do a +*Repair DIsk+* (not permissions) on it. That should make your backups usable, but may not recover much, if any, space.

    You don't get back as much space as you expect because of the way TM's backups are structured.

    When TM does a backup, it creates a folder for the new backup, and copies the new and changed items and makes "hard links" (sort of like fancy aliases) to the copied files. It also makes hard links to the previous backups of things that did not change. So after several backups, most of the backups of your files will have multiple hard links ("multi-links") to their backup copies, one for each backup run. Again, think of these as multiple aliases.

    This is how TM's quick incremental backups are, in effect, full backups.

    When you (or TM) delete a backup, all that's really deleted are the backup folder and all the hard links in that folder. Actual backup copies aren't deleted until the last hard link is deleted; so deleting what appears to be a full backup only deletes the copies of things that were deleted from your system long ago.

    Because of these "multi-links," when you use the Finder to look at a backup folder, it counts the size of everything that was on your system when the backup was done, not just the items that were backed-up on that run.
  • 10. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    hondamusprime Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    So you are looking to gain space on the non- TM partition by removing files from the TM partition?

    If that's the case, then you will not see any gains in available space on the second disk partition. Each partition has a STATIC value for size.

    Each partition calculates file size separately.
  • 11. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    MPOston Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Ah okay, that makes sense. I don't really care that much about backups (fingers crossed) for the next month. Then I'll reformat and create a partition only for backups and another for usable files. That you that cleared it up a lot. Moral of the story is to put TM somewhere and leave it alone.
  • 12. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)
    MPOston wrote:
    Ah okay, that makes sense. I don't really care that much about backups (fingers crossed) for the next month. Then I'll reformat and create a partition only for backups and another for usable files.


    If you put important stuff on the other partition, you can get TM to back it up, but it will send you a warning reminding you that it's not a good idea to have both the originals and backups on the same physical drive: when it fails (and they all do, sooner or later), you risk losing both copies.

    So you'll be much better protected if you find another way to back it up, such as archiving to CDs/DVDs.
  • 13. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (27,950 points)
    I'll reformat and create a partition only for backups and another for usable files.


    And where will those "usable files" be backed up to? To the other partition is bad, as Pondini and I have both pointed out. To nowhere is also bad, unless those files are expendable and you won't be upset if they are lost. IMHO, partitioning a backup drive is bad, unless it's to isolate individual TM backups for different machines. A backup drive should be just that - a backup drive - and should be used for nothing else.

    You may want to read my [Mac Backup Guide|http://www.reedcorner.net/thomas/guides/backups> for more information on effective backups. I'd also direct you to Pondini's numerous and excellent Time Machine guides, some of which are linked to from the top of this forum.
  • 14. Re: Deleting Time Machine backups through Finder doesn't give back HD space
    csessa Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Ok, for some reason i ended up with a similar problem. I am happy to delete all existing backups, but it is not clear how to reset or restart time machine.

    Should i just reformat the external drive and let time machine begin again.
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