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NewMacUser20009

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Nov 15, 2011
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I have used a USB drive connected to my iMac for several years to store my time machine backup. My wife is switching from an old windows computer to a new MacBook Air, and I plan to backup her new MacBook to the same drive.

I have connected the drive to our Airport Extreme, and partitioned it so that there is a dedicated space for her backups. Everything is working properly, however I would like to remove some old files from my backup so that I can allocate more space for her backups.

My backup takes up 2.5 TB, largely because of movies I have ripped and stored in my iTunes collection. To free up space, I went into Time Machine and chose the option to delete all backups of the iTunes movies folder, and also to exclude that folder from future backups. After entering my credentials and verifying the folder had been removed, I checked to see if there was any more free space available. Excluding this folder only freed up a roughly 25 GB of space. I was expecting 1 TB or more.

My question is do I need to empty the Time Machine trash (if that exists) or perform some similar operation to reclaim this space?
 

AppleNewton

macrumors 68000
Apr 3, 2007
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I'd be wary of going from using the drive directly connected to the mac then using it on the airport, as they back-up a little different as noted here in the How To http://pondini.org/TM/Home.html

but thats really the only way to delete backups, they'll be completely removed from the history and if most of the files were the same chances are they're no repeats of the same file more or less symbolic links to the same file that hasn't change, hence why it wasn't a massive change storage
 

NewMacUser20009

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Nov 15, 2011
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@AppleNewton The folder I deleted had multiple versions over time as I added and removed movies. My process is I rip a movie and import it into my iTunes library. I also save a copy of each movie to a different USB drive to keep an archive. After watching the movie, I delete it from iTunes to free up space on my internal drive. Again, I saved a copy to a different USB drive so that I didn't totally loose the content when it was removed from iTunes. The USB drive that contains my watched movies contains roughly 1 TB of movie files. My assumption is all of these would have been backed up by time machine at some point when they were saved in my iTunes movie folder and subsequently removed. When I removed all instances of the iTunes movies folder, I expected to free up space roughly equaling the amount of movies saved on the other USB drive (roughly 1 TB of movies total) since all of these files would have been included in one instance of that folder's backup.

Since the space freed up didn't even come close, I'm wondering if there is a secondary procedure to purge the files that have been selected for deletion, or if like a disk image the space allocated to the time machine backup needs to be manually altered down.
 

cruisin

macrumors 6502a
Apr 1, 2014
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I believe Time Machine removes old backups as the free space becomes low to make room for newer files. If your film folder is sufficiently old, the films may have already been partially deleted. Since you marked that folder for exclusion and didn't get the space back that’s what likely happened. Time Machine keeps only the newest files, everything else is fair game for deletion.

There is a (very) small chance that something is corrupted, and you would need to delete all the backups and start fresh. This would definitely clear up the issues but would take 4 hours or so over a wire, more for wireless.

Also, are you measuring the space in base 10 or base 2? Hard drives are advertised in base 10 but are sometimes shown as base 2 and you loose about 7% making your 3 TB drive a 2.8 TB drive. The newer Macs use base 10 but I don't know how far back the change goes.

Formatting the drive for use will cause a bit of space loss as well, but not much.

Basically, you need a 2nd drive for the 2nd device or you need to delete more old backups.
 
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glenthompson

macrumors demi-god
Apr 27, 2011
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Virginia
Since disk drives are very cheap these days, you are better off getting a new drive to use with the Airport. As mentioned, remote backups are stored in a sparse bundle file on the drive while local drives are stored in standard folders. Also consider that drives attached to an Airport are not supported for Time Machine, only the Time Capsule. It may work but then it may fail when you need it most.

As an alternative, consider putting a large drive on the Airport that holds all your shared media like movies and music. They are then accessible to both of you. Sue a couple of smaller drive locally attached to perform Time Machine backups. Finally, consider some type of off-site backup.
 

NewMacUser20009

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Nov 15, 2011
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Thanks for the suggestions. I ended up formatting the drive and creating three partitions: one for my TimeMachine backup, another for my wife's, and a 3rd for free space to restrict the size of my backups. I will expand the backups into the free space in the future if needed, but I don't want to run into the issue of a bloated backup again.

@crusin, you are correct, TimeMachine does remove old backups to free up space when it hits the limit of space allocated to it, however the space originally allocated for the backup was 3tb, and it was only taking up 2.5tb, so it never got to the point that it needed to remove old files. The reason I wanted to reduce the size of my backup was to allocate space for my wife's backups (I just purchased a MacBook Air for her), and I was having trouble finding a way to shrink my already bloated TimeMachine Backup.

@glenthompson, I agree drives are cheap, and ultimately I'm going to invest in an NAS enclosure, but at this time I would rather use the hardware I already have. I have read conflicting reports about if drives connected via Airport are supported for TimeMachine. From what I gathered it sounds like they didn't use to be, but in the last year Apple has relaxed their position on it. I fully agree with your suggestion for off-site backup. I have used Cashplan for offsite backup for the past 4 years, so in the event my house burns down I won't loose all of my data. As for using a 2nd drive for my wife's time machine backup - having it connected to the network is key. I don't think my wife would consistently connect a USB drive and perform a backup. It is only going to happen if it is connected over the network and running automatically in the background.

Thank you all again for your assistance. -Frank
 

lostgear

macrumors member
Nov 9, 2010
60
1
Try Hdiutil compact spares bundle shell command. That may find significant space in your backup.

Adam
 

Lizziejh

macrumors regular
Jun 12, 2016
114
17
UK
I have time machine backups on my external hard drive which I deleted.

I can see them in the trash folder on the external hard drive. But, the problem is, I cannot delete them from trash and they are using space I need on the drive.

My question is how do I remove backups from the trash. I get the error 'the operation can't be completed because the item folders is in use' and also 'the operation can't be completed etc, because spindump is in use'.

Thanks
 

casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
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Horsens, Denmark
My question is how do I remove backups from the trash. I get the error 'the operation can't be completed because the item folders is in use' and also 'the operation can't be completed etc, because spindump is in use'.

Spindump should probably finish up shortly. Have you tried disabling Time Machine from System Preferences and then deleting the trash?
 
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Lizziejh

macrumors regular
Jun 12, 2016
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UK
Hi, yes I have disable it.
[doublepost=1487522004][/doublepost]What I am needing to do is delete the files from the .Trash folder located in the root of the external drive I used for Time Machine.
 

m4v3r1ck

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2011
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1. Put back the file from trashcan to your TM disk!

2. Go to TM Preferences and DELETE the mounted disk you use for TM back-ups. This will unmount the disk, unlock it to delete it again, you'll then be able to wipe the trashcan!

Cheers

edit: deleted strange "TM" font
 
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casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
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What I am needing to do is delete the files from the .Trash folder located in the root of the external drive I used for Time Machine.

If it still claims it is in use, you could try attempting to delete it from Single-User mode if you know your way around the command line interface. That way it's unlikely any process will be using the files.
 
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CoastalOR

macrumors 68040
Jan 19, 2015
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I have time machine backups on my external hard drive which I deleted.
Why did you manually delete the backups?
Time Machine will delete the oldest backups automatically if more space is needed. It is generally better to let Time Machine manage the backups since manual intervention can damage the Time Machine file links. Here are some links to information that you might find interesting:
http://pondini.org/TM/12.html
http://pondini.org/TM/Works.html
 
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casperes1996

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Jan 26, 2014
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Why did you manually delete the backups?
Time Machine will delete the oldest backups automatically if more space is needed. It is generally better to let Time Machine manage the backups since manual intervention can damage the Time Machine file links. Here are some links to information that you might find interesting:

I don't think what he meant was that he needed more space for backups, but that he wanted to store something on there that wasn't backups, and that he no longer needed any of the backed up data
 
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Lizziejh

macrumors regular
Jun 12, 2016
114
17
UK
Yes that's it exactly casperes1996

I have now managed to delete the unwanted folders from the disk trash using the Maintenance app. Thanks for everyones help.
 
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m4v3r1ck

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2011
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Yes that's it exactly casperes1996

I have now managed to delete the unwanted folders from the disk trash using the Maintenance app. Thanks for everyones help.

You're most welcome! Glad you fixed it. Do you mind sharing with us what/how exactly you managed (steps you took) your fix. It will come in handy for other members too. Appreciated!

Cheers
 

Lizziejh

macrumors regular
Jun 12, 2016
114
17
UK
You're most welcome! Glad you fixed it. Do you mind sharing with us what/how exactly you managed (steps you took) your fix. It will come in handy for other members too. Appreciated!

Cheers

I took advice and downloaded the app Maintenance, selected only trash and it cleaned the drive of all the unwanted folders.
Having said that, I now know how to delete an old backup when in time machine and in future will use that method.
 
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casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
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Horsens, Denmark
I have now managed to delete the unwanted folders from the disk trash using the Maintenance app. Thanks for everyones help.

Thank goodness for the guys at http://www.titanium.free.fr for apps like OnyX, Maintenance and that last one that I forget the name of, but is also part of OnyX. They've been making nearly irreplaceable apps for Macs since like what? Jaguar? Love those guys
 
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chinchillas

macrumors regular
Apr 3, 2015
135
30
Hi. I manually deleted previous Time Machine backup files from my external hard drive and kept the most recent. When I tried to empty the trash bin, I got the error "system files can't be deleted". I tried Delete immediately and got the same message. Tried to put back the files manually to the eHD and desktop, but got the message "system files can't be moved". Tried to drag the files to a terminal window to delete them, but it didn't work and I'm not even comfortable with this solution.

Any ideas?
 

sufferincats

macrumors newbie
Nov 5, 2017
3
1
Yes that's it exactly casperes1996

I have now managed to delete the unwanted folders from the disk trash using the Maintenance app. Thanks for everyones help.
[doublepost=1509886658][/doublepost]what is the Maintenance App? I have the same problem: can't delete time machine file from trash.
 

CoastalOR

macrumors 68040
Jan 19, 2015
3,022
1,147
Oregon, USA
[doublepost=1509886658][/doublepost]what is the Maintenance App? I have the same problem: can't delete time machine file from trash.
It is a App created by Titanium Software mentioned and linked to in Post #11
Thank goodness for the guys at http://www.titanium.free.fr for apps like OnyX, Maintenance and that last one that I forget the name of, but is also part of OnyX. They've been making nearly irreplaceable apps for Macs since like what? Jaguar? Love those guys
 
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