Problems deleting backups of time machine from Trash

Discussion in 'macOS' started by MattRum, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. MattRum macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2013
    Ok, so by now I have realised that I have committed a potentially terrible error. I deleted the Time Machine backups from my partitioned external hard drive and now I cannot delete or clear my trash. I have tried various ways including:

    Empty Trash.
    Secure Empty Trash.
    Option/alt key and Empty Trash.
    Trash it!

    I have also tried to erase the partition dedicated to the time machine backups, but I get an error message which says that the volume erase failed because it "couldn't unmount the disk".

    How should I proceed? I am in the middle of the lengthy process of of copying my data to another hard drive as I anticipate that I may have to erase the external completely. Is there any simple way of solving this problem?

    Ideally I just want to:

    a) Clear the Trash;
    b) make a larger partition for the time machine back up (the initial problem was that the time machine backups were too big for this partition);
    c) go back to my normal happy mac life.

    Apologies: I have looked at various threads and comments posted previously about this problem, but I am new to macs and I find them a little complicated.
  2. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    First of all, TM will delete the oldest backup when it runs out of space, so that the latest one can be saved. So you might not have backups going back a year, but you'll still have a working backup.

    Second: what do you have on the other partition of the drive? Remember that the purpose of a backup is duplication, so that if EITHER drive fails, you still have all your data. Ask yourself what you will lose if the drive with TM on it fails.

    As for your current problem: you need to turn OFF Time Machine in System Preference before you can re-partition it.
    The Trash is actually still on the TM drive, so repartitioning will remove it.

    One more point: partitions are best used to divide a disk into parts that NEED to be a separate volume, e.g. an OS installation, a different file format, etc. If you're just using it as a kind of "folder", then you'll always want to change it at some point. If you want TM to grow unfettered, just use the whole disk. You can put other stuff on there too. (But makes that's backed-up on another device!)

    Finally: don't use Finder to edit, delete or even restore TM files.

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