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Time Machine backups greyed out

18999 Views 135 Replies Latest reply: Dec 6, 2012 2:17 PM by Pondini RSS
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Rob Lisanti Calculating status...
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Jul 28, 2011 11:36 AM

Hi,

 

All of my Time Machine backups older than a week are now greyed out. No matter where I decide to start TM from on the desktop nothing appears in TM older than a week and I have been using TM for over a year now. So this isn;t a problem with TM not being able to find backups of newly-created documents etc.

 

I did have internal disk problems about the same time a week ago and had to restore from another cloned disk. My guess is that the old TM backups are now no longer accessible from my iMac as it thinks that I am now using a new machine (from the cloned recovery).

 

My questions are:

 

  1. Is there any way that I can access the old backups, and
  2. if not, is there a way to recover the disk space on the TC?

 

My TC is 2Gb and currently I'm down to 760Gb free space so if I can't recover the old files I would rather get the space back as long as it doesn't mean that I need to reformat the disk.

 

Thanks

 

Rob

iMac, Mac OS X (10.5.6)
  • William Boyd, Jr. Level 6 Level 6 (10,475 points)
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    Jul 28, 2011 3:18 PM (in response to Rob Lisanti)

    You might find some useful advice on this Web page.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
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    Jul 28, 2011 4:42 PM (in response to Rob Lisanti)

    Rob Lisanti wrote:

    . . .

    I did have internal disk problems about the same time a week ago and had to restore from another cloned disk. My guess is that the old TM backups are now no longer accessible from my iMac as it thinks that I am now using a new machine (from the cloned recovery).

    No, it just keeps the backups for the old disk separate from the new one (even with the same name, TM knows it's a different disk).

     

    See #E3 in Time Machine - Troubleshooting.

  • David Rogers2 Level 1 Level 1 (85 points)
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    May 14, 2012 9:57 AM (in response to Pondini)

    Interesting!  I just upgraded my Time Machine drive by getting a larger drive and using Carbon Copy Cloner to duplicate the old, smaller Time Machine drive, then set the new, larger drive as the only Time Machine drive.

     

    Everything worked except all of my backups from before May 7th--while still present on the new drive--were greyed out in the timeline inside Time Machine and not accessible.

     

    The Shift+Cmd+C trick worked for being able to access those backups, but is there a way to make them so that they'll just normally appear in Time Machine again without having to do the trick?

     

    Thanks!

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
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    May 14, 2012 11:03 AM (in response to David Rogers2)

    Did you also do a full restore, or change your internal HD?

     

    What you describe sounds like TM thinks the backups from before May 7 were on a different (or erased) disk.  Just copying them shouldn't cause that.

     

    If you're on Lion, and the TM disk is connected directly to your Mac via USB or FireWire, you may be able to force TM to "associate" the "new" disk with the existing backups, per #B6 in Time Machine - Troubleshooting.

  • Cedricgw Calculating status...
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    May 14, 2012 11:47 AM (in response to Pondini)

    Good evening

    I just changed my Mac mini and was able to get back my dates thanks to time machine when switching on the new computer

    My problem is that the previous saves are not available through time machine

    They are on the external drive but not accessible through time machine, so very not user friendly

    If anyone has an idea that would be great

     

    Thanks a lot

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
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    May 14, 2012 12:09 PM (in response to Cedricgw)

    You need to clarify things a bit.

     

    You got a new Mac, right?  How did you put your data back on it -- did you do a full system restore, or use either Setup Assistant, when the new Mac first started up, or the Migration Assistant app later on?  If you did either of those, on your next backup, you should be asked whether you want the new Mac to "inherit" the old Mac's backups, per #B5 in Time Machine - Troubleshooting.

     

    If you haven't done any backups yet, the backups of the old Mac won't be seen when you Enter Time Machine, since TM normally only shows the backups of the Mac it's running on.  But you can see and restore from the old backups, via the Browse Other Backup Disks option, per #E2 in the link above.

     

    If that doesn't clarify things, post back with full details of exactly what you did, and what you're trying to do.

  • David Rogers2 Level 1 Level 1 (85 points)
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    May 14, 2012 12:36 PM (in response to Pondini)

    Pondini, all I've done so far was clone my old Time Machine drive to a larger drive (both drives were/are internal in a Mac Pro).  The drive that Time Machine was backing up has not changed (yet) and is currently Snow Leopard (but will be moved to Lion later this week).  I did change the name of the new TM drive...the original was 'Time Machine' and the new I named 'Time Machine HD' (but that was this morning, so I don't know why it would settle on May 7 as the cutoff...). Could that somehow be part of the issue?

     

    Option clicking the TM icon and browsing other disks (and selecting the sole TM drive that exists on the machine now) gets me to my greyed-out backups like Shift+Cmd+C does, they're jsut greyed-out if I enter TM normally.  I'm a little nervous about the 'associate' trick as I know just enough of Terminal to damage something...

     

    Cedricgw, I'm having the same issue and tip #E3 in the discussion above (the Shift+Cmd+C trick) worked for me to be able to access those backups again.  Unfortunately it did not make them available in TM permanently, so to access them I need to do the trick everytime... Trying to figure that part out now.  Good luck.

  • David Rogers2 Level 1 Level 1 (85 points)
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    May 14, 2012 12:49 PM (in response to David Rogers2)

    Update: ok, this is weird... I've been in and out of TM looking at the situation and just a few minutes ago I realized that my previously inaccessible backups were suddenly there again as I closed out TM.  I immediately went back in to take another look and found that everything before 11:42 am was now greyed-out instead.  I took some screenshots for future reference, went back out and back in and everrything was working normally (backups back to February).

     

    Just now I went BACK into TM and now only the last backup ISN'T greyed-out... What in the...?

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
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    May 14, 2012 12:55 PM (in response to David Rogers2)

    David Rogers2 wrote:

    . . .

    I did change the name of the new TM drive...the original was 'Time Machine' and the new I named 'Time Machine HD' (but that was this morning, so I don't know why it would settle on May 7 as the cutoff...). Could that somehow be part of the issue?

    No, changing the name of a drive won't do it.  TM keeps track of drives by their UUIDs (Universally Unique IDentifiers), which remain the same if you change the name.  The only way to change one is to erase the drive or partition.

     

    Sounds like something must have happened on or about May 7.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
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    May 14, 2012 1:00 PM (in response to David Rogers2)

    David Rogers2 wrote:

     

    Update: ok, this is weird... I've been in and out of TM looking at the situation and just a few minutes ago I realized that my previously inaccessible backups were suddenly there again as I closed out TM.  I immediately went back in to take another look and found that everything before 11:42 am was now greyed-out instead.  I took some screenshots for future reference, went back out and back in and everrything was working normally (backups back to February).

     

    Just now I went BACK into TM and now only the last backup ISN'T greyed-out... What in the...?

    Are you sure you're giving it enough time to "populate" the display?  It can take quite a while, for some reason, and there's usually nothing obvious while it's working (sometimes a very small progress wheel is about it).  I suspect a lot of it is finding all the icons, especially if the Finder window is in List or Column view and a lot of files are being shown.   With TM on an internal HD, I'd expect it to be pretty quick, but it still can take some time.

     

    If you haven't yet, try the things in #E4 of Time Machine - Troubleshooting.

  • Cedricgw Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    May 15, 2012 1:54 AM (in response to Pondini)

    Ok sorry i'll try to be as clear as i can

     

    When i first started my new mac mini (the old one was 4 year old i think), the computer asked (before i finished the set-up, so before i was able to use it) if it should load a previous save done using time machine

    i said yes, and it loaded some 70GO of datas more or less

     

    When i went in "documents" or elsewhere, all my music and everything was back here, exactly like if i hadn't changed the mac, so that is great

     

    the issue i have is that when i open time machine (with finder coming on top and the stars in the background) the right of the screen where i used to see the past dates when time machine had done a previous save are no longer here. therefore, i can not come back a month or a year in the past to find a file i'm looking for, that is my problem

     

    what i can say also is the following: when i go in the external disk dedicated to time machine and i open the folder, there are now 2 different sub folders, which means that time machine knows it is 2 different computers

     

    finally, time machine can't run its first "new" save with the new computer because it wants to do a 90GO save while the external drive only has 60go available left, because time machine does not "see" the previous saves which are just a few days old (with the previous mac of course)

     

    i hope it is clear, i don't know how to make time machine think that i haven't changed computer in the end, that would be more or less the solution i guess

     

    thanks a lot for your help

  • David Rogers2 Level 1 Level 1 (85 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 15, 2012 6:51 AM (in response to Pondini)

    Pondini,

     

    I don't think 'time to populate' was the issue as TM was cycling between three different states (only backups after 2:46 pm yesterday available, only backups after May 7th available, and all backups available), apparently randomly, each time I would enter TM.

     

    Having said that, the problem--whatever it was--looks to be completely sorted this morning.  Several visits to TM so far and every time all of my backups are available.  Not sure what the original problem was or which trick was the one that sorted it, but your TM site has a wealth of good info and I've got it bookmarked for future reference.  Thanks for the info and suggestions--extremely helpful!

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 15, 2012 7:46 AM (in response to Cedricgw)

    Cedricgw wrote:

    . . .

    When i first started my new mac mini (the old one was 4 year old i think), the computer asked (before i finished the set-up, so before i was able to use it) if it should load a previous save done using time machine

    i said yes, and it loaded some 70GO of datas more or less

    That was the Setup Assistant transferring your stuff, just as it should.  That's the best way to set up a new Mac, by far.


    the issue i have is that when i open time machine (with finder coming on top and the stars in the background) the right of the screen where i used to see the past dates when time machine had done a previous save are no longer here. therefore, i can not come back a month or a year in the past to find a file i'm looking for, that is my problem

    That's correct, at least until you start doing new backups (see below).  Those backups are for a different Mac (your old one), and Time Machine normally only shows the backups for the Mac it's running on.  You can see and restore from them via the Browse... option, per #E2 in Time Machine - Troubleshooting.

     

    (It's done that way because you can back up more than one Mac to the same place -- many folks back up 2 or 3 to the same Time Capsule.)

     

    When you did the first backup after using Setup Assistant, you should have seen this prompt:

     

    B5a Inherit prompt.jpg

    See #B5 in the Troubleshooting article for details.

     

    If you chose Inherit Backup History, new backups would be added to the old Mac's backups, and all appear in the timeline.

     

    If something went wrong and you didn't get the prompt, or if you chose Create New Backup, a whole new set of backups would have been made, separate from the old ones (and you won't see the old ones via Enter Time Machine, only via the Browse option).  From your description, that seems to be what happened.

     

    when i go in the external disk dedicated to time machine and i open the folder, there are now 2 different sub folders, which means that time machine knows it is 2 different computers

    . . .

    i don't know how to make time machine think that i haven't changed computer in the end, that would be more or less the solution i guess

    It's not clear why this happened, but you may be able to fix it this way:

     

    The sub-folder for the new Mac should have very little in it; delete it via the Finder and empty the trash.

     

    Then use the procedures in #B6 of the Troubleshooting article to get the new Mac to "inherit" the backups of the old one, and "associate" the new Mac's internal HD with the old backups.  It's rather techie, unfortunately, but if you follow the steps and examples carefully, it should work.

     

     

     

     

    One other question:  how large is your Time Machine drive?  It sounds like it's a bit small.  It varies greatly, of course, depending on how you use your Mac, but Time Machine usually needs 2-3 times the space of the data it's backing-up, to be able to keep a reasonable "depth" of old backups for you.  You might consider getting a larger drive.s

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