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Time Machine won't delete old backups to make space for new ones

77219 Views 31 Replies Latest reply: Oct 24, 2013 10:39 AM by Alec V. RSS
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Flashe3 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Dec 19, 2011 6:00 AM

Hi,

 

I have a Mac OSX Version 10.5.8

 

When backing up through Time Machine, I back up to an external drive with a capacity of 465.64GB, of which 4.1GB is available.  The size of the data I need to back is over 7GB.

 

Time Machine used to delete old backups and notify me.  But now I get a message saying that there isn't enough space on the drive.  How do I set it to delete old backups?  When I check the settings, the following is ticked "Warn when old backups are deleted" so I don't understand why it's not deleting them.

 

Many thanks,
F.

Mac Book Pro 3.1, Mac OS X (10.5.8), 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (114,835 points)

    See if the great Pondini's guide on deleting old backups helps...

     

    http://Pondini.org/TM/12.html

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)

    Flashe3 wrote:

    . . .

    When I check the settings, the following is ticked "Warn when old backups are deleted" so I don't understand why it's not deleting them.

    Yes, when that box is checked (on Leopard), Time Machine will fail with a message when the backup drive is full.  Just un-check it and run a backup -- it should behave properly.

     

    (Note: the wording of that option, and behavior, were changed in Snow Leopard:  if the box is checked, it sends an informational message after deleting old backups.)

  • plainhat Calculating status...

    Nope, not so. I have Snow Leopard and it isn't deleting no matter which way I have that option toggled.

  • plainhat Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    However... I'm reading up all Pondini's documentation. Thanks! I can probably solve the problem by clearing some old backups.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)

    plainhat wrote:

     

    Nope, not so. I have Snow Leopard and it isn't deleting no matter which way I have that option toggled.

    As posted, that works differently on Snow Leopard vs. Leopard:  "(Note: the wording of that option, and behavior, were changed in Snow Leopard:  if the box is checked, it sends an informational message after deleting old backups.)"

     

    If a backup fails for lack of space on Snow Leopard, there really isn't enough room, for some reason.  See #C4 in Time Machine - Troubleshooting.

  • plainhat Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Thanks so very much both for your documentation and your quick response and accept my apologies for not reading more carefully. I think by the time I found this response I was getting a bit glazed over.

     

    The error message simply said it could not create the folder. My assumption was that the disk was too full. Indeed, after wrestling with it all morning I've managed to clear some of the old backups and it is now (as I write) finally running a backup.

     

    However, I'm afraid this means as soon as the disk is full again, it will not automagically delete old backups and I'll need to fix it manually again. A real pain. Maybe when they finally get me on Lion here (work computer) it will fix itself.

     

    NOW... if I can figure out how to keep my Early 2008 MacPro from randomly shutting down, I'll be a happy camper LOL

     

    Again...Thanks for the info!

     

    (read the following only if you are into extremely boring details)

    Interestingly enough, I finally had to restart to delete backups. First I'd ask to delete anything in Time Machine and it just sat there. It didn't even ask for my password.  I backed out and came back in and tried again and then it finally asked for the password, but then stalled. I escaped out of TM and found a message waiting insisting that some files were in use. I restarted and finally things worked, however it kept finding files that were locked (from a Dreamweaver enabled web site) and I had to go in and remove those locks inside TM. Interesting adventure.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)

    plainhat wrote:

    . . .

    The error message simply said it could not create the folder. My assumption was that the disk was too full. Indeed, after wrestling with it all morning I've managed to clear some of the old backups and it is now (as I write) finally running a backup.

    That can happen if the disk gets absolutely, positively, chock-full.  Time Machine alone usually won't let that happen -- we see it when there's other data on the disk (in the same partition), that fills the last few MBs.  Needless to say, that's not a good idea.  Other data needs to be in a separate partition or different disk.

     

    Here's what happens:  When Time Machine starts a backup, the first thing it does is create a backup folder, and create and start writing to a (hidden) log file inside it.  When that's done, it figures out how much needs to be backed-up, and how much space is available, so it can start deleting old backups.  Obviously, if it doesn't have even a few MBs to create the folder and log, it fails.

     

    However, I'm afraid this means as soon as the disk is full again, it will not automagically delete old backups and I'll need to fix it manually again.

    Unlikely, unless you have other data there. 

     

    NOW... if I can figure out how to keep my Early 2008 MacPro from randomly shutting down, I'll be a happy camper LOL

    Are you sure it's random?  Could it be a certain number of minutes with no activity?  If so, check System Preferences > Security > General.  Make sure the Log out .... box isn't checked.

     

    it kept finding files that were locked (from a Dreamweaver enabled web site) and I had to go in and remove those locks inside TM. Interesting adventure.

    Indeed!  Why in the world anything would be locking files in your backups is beyond me.  I don't think I've ever heard of that before.

  • plainhat Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Again, thanks

     

    After reading your response I think I know what may be causing the problem. No I am not storing anything else on that partition. However the disk came storing its own software AND it was used on a windows machine before this. It probably has some hidden files left on it somewhere. When I get a moment I'll open up the terminal and go look to see what I can find.

     

    About the Early 2008 MacPro... I wish it was something as simple. I'm apparently one in a bunch who got stung on that machine. Read the thread and be glad you didn't get that machine :-)

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2098873?tstart=0

     

    Between that and the video card I paid to replace exactly one year and one month out, I'm pretty ticked off. It was my first plunge into the world of Macs and, if I wasn't pleased with the newer one I have here at work, I'd probably think really really hard before buying another. As it is, I probably will think really hard....

     

    About the locked files... Yup. Dreamweaver does funky things with file locks and has been the bane of my existence for far too long. Unfortunately it is a requirement of my job. If someone has problems following your delete backup instructions and they are running either Dreamweaver or Contribute on their machine, it is a good bet that it's Adobe's fault. What really ***** is that those files had been deleted from my live files so it wasn't even as though I could unlock the files in finder. I had to do it inside TM and if there was a single locked file inside a folder, it would just spit out the whole delete request with no warning or alert.

     

    Again, thanks so very much!

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)

    plainhat wrote:

    . . .

    However the disk came storing its own software AND it was used on a windows machine before this. It probably has some hidden files left on it somewhere.

    If so, that's not a factor.  Such files might take up some space, but would be a problem only if added or changed during or after a backup.

     

    It wouldn't hurt to remove them, but probably won't help, either.

     

    However, if you installed an app that came with the drive, or it was installed automatically, it may be running (in the background, either constantly or periodically), doing who knows what.

     

    If it happens again, a clue may be lurking in your logs.  Use the widget in #A1 of Time Machine - Troubleshooting to display the backup messages from your logs.  Locate the backup in question, then copy and post all the messages here.

  • plainhat Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Thanks...widget duly installed, but am hoping I won't need it!

     

    Just for yuks, this was the message on the failed backups from the last two days:

     

    Starting standard backup

    Backing up to: /Volumes/FreeAgent Drive/Backups.backupdb

    Error: (22) setxattr for key:com.apple.backupd.ModelID path:/Volumes/FreeAgent Drive/Backups.backupdb/LOCOIST101M01 size:9

    Error: (-50) Creating directory 2012-02-02-085137.inProgress

    Failed to make snapshot container.

    Error: (22) setxattr for key:com.apple.backupd.ModelID path:/Volumes/FreeAgent Drive/Backups.backupdb/LOCOIST101M01 size:9

    Backup failed with error: 2

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)

    plainhat wrote:

    . . .

    Error: (22) setxattr for key:com.apple.backupd.ModelID path:/Volumes/FreeAgent Drive/Backups.backupdb/LOCOIST101M01 size:9

    Error: (-50) Creating directory 2012-02-02-085137.inProgress

    Failed to make snapshot container.

    Ah, it wasn't completely full after all.

     

    It couldn't write an "extended attribute" to the folder in your Backups that identifies your Mac, then couldn't create the backup folder.

     

    Try the things in #C10 of Time Machine - Troubleshooting.

     

    Also check your computer name -- it looks ok here, but be sure there are no special characters in it.  

  • plainhat Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    uh huh! did a disk repair on the external drive. It found errors and "fixed them"

    or as the report tells me...

     

    Incorrect number of extended attributes

    (It should be 2509223 instead of 2509219)

    Incorrect number of Access Control Lists

    (It should be 2509222 instead of 2509218)

    ... snip

    Checking extended attributes file.

    Invalid map node

    ... snip

    The volume FreeAgent Drive was repaired successfully."

     

    Hmmm think I'll ask the boss for a new (and bigger) disk. :-)

     

    Thanks again for all your help.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)

    If Disk Utility says it's ok, it is.  That can happen without a hardware problem, especially if the drive gets disconnected without being ejected, or the Mac loses power or crashes.

     

    Of course, it can also be a sign the disk is beginning to fail. 

     

    Keep an eye on it;  if that sort of thing happens again, with no good reason, it may be on it's way out.

  • Jeremy Davis3 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    I am having a similar problem.  I have 10.7.3 and havw two internal HD. I am backing up my system HD - 500G onto another internal that is 1000G.  Nothing else is on the internal.  It says it is full and no matter what I do, it does not erase the old versions. 

     

    I do not want to have to erase old versions manually all the time, that defeats the purpose of having time machine.  Why do I need more than double the space to back up a hard drive and how can I get Time Machine to start deleting old versions automatically?

     

    I read through the posts above as well as the link and do not see how to get TM to start functioning automatically again.

     

    Please help.

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