Delete TM backup of old machine?

Discussion in 'OS X Mountain Lion (10.8)' started by TheElf, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. TheElf, Oct 12, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012

    TheElf macrumors newbie

    Oct 12, 2012
    Hi MR,

    Sorry if this has been asked many times before – a search turned up a few results, though none really answered my question very clearly.

    I've just moved from an iMac to an MBA. I have an external hard drive with several partitions:

    1) For Time Machine Backups
    2) A Carbon Copy Clone (of my old iMac)
    3) For storage of iTunes Media and other miscellaneous files

    I haven't yet activated Time Machine on the MBA, so the TM partition on the external drive only contains the Backups.backupd folder from my iMac.

    I have simply starting using my new MBA from a clean install and am using the Carbon Copy Clone of my iMac to copy files over as I need them.

    To get to the point of this post, I hoped someone might be able to give me clear instructions as to how I can delete the entire Time Machine backup of my old iMac before activating TM on the new computer. I am aware of the "Browse Other Backup Disks…" option when option-clicking the Time Machine icon in the menubar, but am not sure where to go from there.

    TL;DR: How do I delete the entire TM backup history of an old computer?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. mrapplegate macrumors 68030

    Feb 26, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    You just delete it on the hard drive.
    Connect your hard drive. Find the backup folder(Backups.backupd) and drag it to the trash.
  3. TheElf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 12, 2012
    Sorry for leaving this thread dormant for so long. Thanks for your reply mrapplegate. I'm wary of dragging Backups.backupd to the Trash, as the (nearly full) TM partition is 500GB and my MBA's SSD is only 128GB.

    I came across a thread on MacNN (CharlesS' post specifically) which suggests using rm to delete the files from the Terminal.

    (I'm aware of the risks of using the rm command incorrectly, so copied and pasted the commands directly, having ensured that the cd command definitely moved into my Time Machine Backups partition.)

    Having left my laptop running over night, in the hope that rm would work its magic, I checked back this morning to find no progress - Backups.backupd is still visible in the Finder. There doesn't seem to be any disk activity on my external hard drive either, which I would expect if any files were actually being deleted.

    Is there any way to check whether or not the rm command is currently running; and is there any risk of the operation attempting to continue with unhappy consequences if I simply restart my computer and try to run the commands again?


    (P.S. Attempting to run 'du' to find the size of my TM directory just threw a 'Permission denied' error. Is 'sudo rm' able to ignore permissions? Might this be my problem?)
  4. rhoydotp macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2006
    if the only thing you have on the partition is the old TM backup, just go to Disk Utility and "erase" the partition.
  5. TheElf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 12, 2012
    I'd thought about this but feel a bit wary, given that all my (unbacked) media is on this drive too (albeit on another partition). Though I imagine the chances of the OS erasing the wrong partition (outside of user error) are negligible…?
  6. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Dec 21, 2011
    I don't understand why you are "wary" about doing a simply drive erase yet willingly dabble with mysterious terminal commands. Just erase the partition already. Your other 2 partitions won't be touched.

    And if your unbacked media files on that drive are your only copy you have other problems.
  7. TheElf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 12, 2012
    Thanks Bill, I'll get on with erasing the partition and be done with it. The reason I'd been looking for a solution using the terminal rather than Disk Utility is that, at least to me, it feels far less destructive to simply erase a directory than the entire partition.

    I see your point about my media files. Thankfully I do indeed have a secondary copy of most of them on my iPod. Unfortunately I can't store them on my internal drive as there just isn't enough space.
  8. TheElf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 12, 2012
    Erasing the partition took less than 10 seconds - TM is now beginning the initial backup of my new computer. Thanks for your advice and sorry for being so illogical :)

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