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Question: Trash emptying for two days!

I noticed that the trash bin was full on my iMac. Instinctively, I tried to empty the trash, however it is full of old Time Machine backups which contains "system" files along with others that would normally not be recommended for deletion. Being backups, it shouldn't matter much, however it has been emptying for two days now and over 1.2 million files. (No wonder the computer was performing so slowly!).

Apart from keeping an eye on the trash and emptying more regularly, any ideas on how to avoid this in the future?

MacBook Air, OS X Yosemite (10.10.1)

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That's ok; Apple doesn't manufacture hard disk drives. If you disconnect it do the files in the Trash remain?

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Mar 15, 2018 6:46 PM in response to Troysfilson In response to Troysfilson

I had the same problem. I made the mistake of deleting my old backups. I just kept deleting (emptying my trash) and after a couple of days it finally emptied all of the old backups. In the future I will let my computer handle it automatically. You might want to call Apple Support for help.

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Mar 15, 2018 2:42 PM in response to Troysfilson In response to Troysfilson

Don’t delete Time Machine backup files. There is never a need to do that, and there is a great likelihood that the Time Machine backup will become corrupted if you do.


The solution is to erase the TM backup drive, and let Time Machine manage its own storage requirements.

Mar 15, 2018 2:42 PM

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Mar 15, 2018 2:48 PM in response to John Galt In response to John Galt

Time Machine is managing its own storage requirements. These backups were over 2 years old and automatically set to "fall off" the external drive. I don't know why they have ended up in the Trash and why they are continuing to pile up. It's obviously not set up correctly, but any tips on proper set up would be appreciated.

Mar 15, 2018 2:48 PM

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Mar 15, 2018 6:14 PM in response to John Galt In response to John Galt

Yes, I'm sure they are T.M. backups. This is also confusing to me. Owned Apple computers since I was a teenager and it's the first time I've seen this.

I also understand the same thing; the older backups are removed automatically. This is the first time I've seen them end up in the Trash.

Mar 15, 2018 6:14 PM

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Mar 15, 2018 6:23 PM in response to Troysfilson In response to Troysfilson

And now a bigger problem has come up. I cannot empty my trash of these back ups at all because the system thinks they're "in use" but they are clearly not.

Mar 15, 2018 6:23 PM

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Mar 15, 2018 6:46 PM in response to Troysfilson In response to Troysfilson

I had the same problem. I made the mistake of deleting my old backups. I just kept deleting (emptying my trash) and after a couple of days it finally emptied all of the old backups. In the future I will let my computer handle it automatically. You might want to call Apple Support for help.

Mar 15, 2018 6:46 PM

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Mar 15, 2018 6:49 PM in response to Troysfilson In response to Troysfilson

If you reconnect the drive those files will reappear because they are in its Trash directory, not your startup drive.


If you did not drag those TM backups there then I don't have an explanation for their appearance in its Trash. The only solution I have would be to erase that backup drive and start a new set of backups. You need more than just one backup drive anyway, so if that is the only TM backup you have it's a good excuse to get another one. Besides, 500 GB isn't all that much these days. 1 TB would be about $50, and twice that capacity for not much more.

Mar 15, 2018 6:49 PM

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Question: Trash emptying for two days!