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Question: Can't access old Time Machine backup files


I'm having trouble with my Time Machine backup. I have ended up with two different backups on the same external drive. One is a backup of the current computer I'm using, and one is from my old MacBook.

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I'd like to consolidate these down. I've been working on getting my data organized over the past few weeks, backing everything up to the cloud as well as this drive, etc. The problem I'm running into is an inability to access some of the data on my old Time Machine backup.

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The Googling I've done leads me to believe I should be able to change the permissions of the locked folder. So I try that.

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Problem is I keep getting the error "You can only read" or "You have no access" upon trying to change the permissions. I type in my password when prompted, but nothing happens. So I've just got a ton of inaccessible data in here.

Any thoughts? Tips? I can't figure out what to do here. I've tried creating a new user that has access with no luck as well.

MacBook Pro with Retina display, macOS High Sierra (10.13.3)

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Mar 10, 2018 8:49 PM in response to zachisverymodest In response to zachisverymodest

Hi zachisverymodest,

Have you tried using Migration Assistant? It can transfer any data on the backup for your old MacBook onto your current Mac. Open Migration Assistant, which is found in /Applications/Utilities, then click Continue. Choose to transfer data "From a Mac, Time Machine backup or startup disk". You'll be guided through the process of migrating your data from your old MacBook onto your current Mac. No data will be lost by doing this.

Alternatively, if you just want to temporarily view files from your old MacBook without copying them to your current Mac, use the powerful root user if necessary. It's the most privileged account on your Mac, and it's disabled by default for security purposes. There should be no need to modify permissions as the root user should be permitted to read and write to most restricted areas by default. It is highly recommended not to use the root user as your normal account, as it is even more powerful than an administrator account. Disable the root user once you're finished using it.

Information about enabling, using and disabling the root user can be found here: How to enable the root user on your Mac or change your root password - Apple Support

Mar 10, 2018 8:49 PM

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Question: Can't access old Time Machine backup files