Deleting old TM backups (certain folders only)

Discussion in 'macOS' started by LTX, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. LTX macrumors regular


    Dec 25, 2008
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    On my 500GB external hard drive I have a 200GB partition where all my Time Machine backups go.

    The situation is: I have some backup folders from when I first started to use TM, then I have some backup folders from when I was using TM with my SSD (fresh install, different backup), then I have some folders from when I switched back from my SSD to my 5400RPM drive (again, fresh install, didn't restore).

    I wanted to check out SuperDuper, so I need to go through the backup folders and delete the junk (Applications folders, etc.), keeping the important stuff (most of which isn't on this drive, since I did not do a restore).

    Unfortunately, it tells me "The operation can't be completed because backup items can't be modified." Does anyone know how to force delete these without reformatting the partition (last resort)? I found a possible solution that involves opening TM, browsing to the folder, hitting the Actions gear and clicking Delete This Backup or something, but that option isn't in the list. I am only able to pick "Delete All Backups of xxx".


    Edit: I realize I could just copy the important stuff to the internal drive, but I don't have enough space :-/
  2. lostngone macrumors 65816


    Aug 11, 2003
    Let me see if I understand, you want to go into the TM folders manually and Delete things out of them?

    This in all likelihood would corrupt the backup. Apple has put in access controls to stop this exact thing from taking place, even as the root user you can not modify a TM backup.

    Quote from "Mac OS X Security Configuration For Version 10.5 Leopard Second Edition"

    "Time Machine illustrates the difference between mandatory access controls and the
    user privilege model—it allows files within Time Machine backups to be deleted only
    by programs related to Time Machine. From the command line, no user— not even one
    logged in as root—can delete files in a Time Machine backup.
    Time Machine uses this strict policy because it utilizes new file system features in
    Mac OS X Leopard. The policy prevents corruption in the backup directory by
    preventing tools from deleting files from backups that may not consider the new file
    system features."
  3. LTX thread starter macrumors regular


    Dec 25, 2008
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Well, the backups are unusable (can't tell TM to continue the backup starting with one of these folders to increment) as they are from previous installations/the other hard drive. I might not even use TM for a while, to see how Superduper is. Anyway, right now I'm trying to free up space elsewhere so I can just copy over the good stuff and reformat.
  4. macrem macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2008
  5. emt1 macrumors 65816

    Jan 30, 2008
    Enter Time Machine as if you wanted to recover files. Find the folder/files you want to delete. Right click -> delete back up. This will delete all previous back ups of that file/folder.

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