Deleted Time Capsule Folder Backups Won't Stay Deleted

jbachandouris

macrumors 601
Original poster
Aug 18, 2009
4,478
1,406
Upstate NY
I was trying to clear up some space on my Time Capsule so I decided to delete the oldest entire year of backups. They are now in my trash. I have tried several times to delete them, but they keep coming back. There are over 100,000 files of backups and it takes several hours to delete.

When I try to back up, I see 'preparing backup...' but nothing happens as I am attempting to empty the trash and apparently that is interfering.

Any ideas?
 

NoBoMac

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 1, 2014
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884
Did you use the Time Machine GUI, or, tmutil command to delete? If not, might have really messed up the backup.

Might be easiest to wipe the drive and start fresh, as tough to figure out what the real "health status" is of the other snapshots on the drive.
 

Honza1

macrumors 6502
Nov 30, 2013
415
137
US
I was trying to clear up some space on my Time Capsule so I decided to delete the oldest entire year of backups. They are now in my trash. I have tried several times to delete them, but they keep coming back. There are over 100,000 files of backups and it takes several hours to delete.

When I try to back up, I see 'preparing backup...' but nothing happens as I am attempting to empty the trash and apparently that is interfering.

Any ideas?
Now? Not really.

TM backups maintenance (deleting, error fixing,...) is not really supported through GUI (Finder). It can be done relatively painlessly using command line tmutils.
TM uses hard links and so those files ( = your 100k) are mostly links to one single copy of each file to save space. So one version of the file can be linked many, many times in many backup locations. When you try to delete these "files", you are asking Finder to identify for each file if there are any remaining links to it and decide, if to delete the hard links only or the whole file. It takes forever.
You may find out that after deleting 100k of files, used space changes very little as the large originals may still be linked in backups left.
TM has some really amazing ideas behind it, it is extremely space efficient... Maintenance and error fixing is not its strong side.
The best suggestion is probably to leave Finder to finish this deleting (it may take days, sure) and see, if TM still works. Switching off the TM while it is deleting should help!
If it works after deleting, leave it as is. If not, delete the whole backup folder (or reformat) and start again.
 

jbachandouris

macrumors 601
Original poster
Aug 18, 2009
4,478
1,406
Upstate NY
Did you use the Time Machine GUI, or, tmutil command to delete? If not, might have really messed up the backup.

Might be easiest to wipe the drive and start fresh, as tough to figure out what the real "health status" is of the other snapshots on the drive.
I'm not going to wipe the drive and start fresh. I only deleted the backup folders from one year out of 3-4 years. And I didn't use any of those commands, I just dragged them to the trash. I've done it this way before with no issue.

The point is, they delete and then a day or so later, they come back. And yes, it does take forever.
 

nouveau_redneck

macrumors 6502a
Sep 16, 2017
551
851
It's very likely that the entire backup set is destroyed. As other have said, manually deleting can mess it up. I learned the hard way myself back when I was using TM. I ended up having to delete it all and start fresh.

The data you deleted is likely still part of the active backup. TM won't backup a file more than once if it does not change. Much of that data in the previous years probably has not changed on your system, so those files would be needed to complete the set. Your back link structure is messed up now.
 

mw360

macrumors 68000
Aug 15, 2010
1,538
1,265
As others have said, you've probably screwed up your back-up and you should rebuild it. In case it's not getting though, Time Machine only stores one copy of each file state. It doesn't back up a new copy of the same file every day, month or year. Not unless the file has changed. So if you've deleted any actual files, you've deleted the only back-up of those files. Now Time machine will have to back them all up again, and using the timestamp on those files it may be retroactively putting them in the years-old folders.

Time Machine is supposed to fill up your back-up disk, and it will delete old version of files when space runs low. Just let it do its work.
 
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jbachandouris

macrumors 601
Original poster
Aug 18, 2009
4,478
1,406
Upstate NY
Ok. So how to get them out of my trash? I left it to delete overnight twice. The minute I activate a new backup, they come right back to the trash can.

If I wipe the drive and start over, will this solve the issue with trash can?
I wiped the drive before. Not sure if I remember the right way to do this...

Erased disk from AirPort Utility. Now I will re-create my back-up. Thanks for the tips.
 

NoBoMac

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 1, 2014
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884
Yes, reformatting the disk will wipe the trash as external drive trash is kept on the drive, not your local trash can (ie. the trash is a bit of an abstraction).

Disk Utility, select drive, erase, select Mac OS Journaled for format (encrypted if want extra security, and ideal time to do it as will go quicker vs data on the drive).