Stuck emptying Time Machine backups from Trash

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by SylviaW, Apr 17, 2019.

  1. SylviaW macrumors newbie

    Dec 11, 2008
    I have Time Machine backups going to a 3TB hard drive. I also have stored many other files there.

    Recently the 3TB drive filled up. To create space for more of those "other" files, I decided to delete some of the oldest backups. I moved them to the Trash, then tried to Empty the Trash.

    That was several days ago. Several files repeatedly caused the Emptying to stop. I clicked "Skip." Now, 284,296 items later and still deleting, I am flummoxed. So I clicked the X in a circle, stopping the emptying process.

    Searching for solutions today, I learned that I should put only TM backups on the backup drive. (Apple does not include this essential info in its TM primer.) OK, I'll move the other files off that drive to another drive.

    My question:

    How do I get those files out of the Trash?

    Would restarting help?

    What a mess. Thanks for your help.

    iMac late 2015, OS 10.13.6
  2. HDFan macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2007
    Because of the complex structure of Time Machine links, when a TM volume fills up I never try to delete the files. Deletion takes forever. I simply reformat the entire TM drive and start it over. I can do this because I run TM on 2 redundant disks so I can always start one over from scratch.

    So I would suggest:

    1. Separate your TM and files on separate disks. With everything on one disk if that disk fails you have lost everything.

    2. If the files that you are backing up are important, make sure you have 3 backups in 3 separate locations. Since TM backups fail, I'd have 2 of those backups done via something like Carbon Copy Cloner or a cloud backup service such as Backblaze.
  3. SylviaW thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 11, 2008
    HDFan, thank you for this sound advice going forward. Please also advise on my current dilemma: Getting the TM files out of the iMac Trash.

    What do you think of this suggestion from an Apple Communities forum? (Underlining is mine.)

    "Yikes, did you use the Finder to trash the files? Only remove files from a TM volume using TM. I'm fairly certain you're going to have to wipe the whole drive & start over... but turn off TM & see if you can put the friles in the Trash back on the TM volume."
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Fishrrman's "broken record" advice:
    Try either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper instead of Time Machine.
    I predict the frowns on your face will become a big smile!
  5. SylviaW thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 11, 2008
    All, thanks for the advice re backups in the future.

    Re my current dilemma -- getting the TM files out of the iMac Trash -- Apple Support suggested updating to the Mojave OS, which allows emptying TM files from the Trash.

    So I've done that and voila, the Trash emptied in seconds. Props to Apple support!
  6. gilby101 macrumors regular

    Mar 17, 2010
    Any deleting, via Finder, of TM backups is likely to leave a corrupt backup. You have got rid of the file in the Trash, but I would not trust the backup. If it were me, I would erase the backup drive (after saving elsewhere anything else on the drive) and start again with Time Machine.
  7. NoBoMac macrumors 68020


    Jul 1, 2014
    Since OP solved their issue almost two months ago, a late possible solution, should someone else stumble on this.

    Since the TM backup was most likely corrupted by deleting snapshots manually, reformatting the drive might have cleared the Trash, as the Trash for the TM drive is on the TM drive (/Volumes/drive/.Trashes/userid#) not on the Mac.

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6 April 17, 2019