Time Machine constantly creating new backups, no work actually done

AlexNordic

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2018
3
1
St Albans, UK
Hi all,

I've been checking why my time machine has gone bananas with large backups that happen too often, but can't find an answer

I have my time machine on a network drive (WD My Book), so it back ups every night when I get home. Those are normally between 1.15 and 1.8Gb, which I find pretty massive considering that all my work is in the cloud (Google Apps, Figma), a bit of coding and mail. Hardly even open a file.

Those backups take normally 5-6 hours to complete, which makes me feel if my macbook is actually a backup machine that happens to allow me to do other work on the side. But the part that I find more bonkers is that as soon that 1.x Gb backup has finished, it starts a new one about 250-300Mb. Seriously? During those 5-6 hours I've only browsed a few webs and keep everything closed to ensure time machine runs as fast as possible. It has done that twice already this morning, with TM doing yet another one as I write.

So I've done tmutil compare and find out that TM considers that tons of files that I never touch have changed. For example apps I never use (VLC, iTunes), entire wordpress backups (with ALL the images) that I haven't looked at in years. Added /Library/cache/ and /Library/fonts, which is nuts because that's not new.

File is too big but here are some bits and bobs.

Any idea how to solve this madness? I'm starting to wonder whether it's WD's My Book, and I should do weekly backups on a wired HDD instead.

partial output of a tmutil compare:
+ 42.8K /Applications/iTunes.app/Contents/Resources/zh_TW.lproj/iPod License.rtf
+ 94.4K /Applications/iTunes.app/Contents/Resources/zh_TW.lproj/iPod touch License.rtf
+ 4.9K /Applications/iTunes.app/Contents/Resources/zh_TW.lproj/iTunesExtraGridView.png
+ 9.2K /Applications/iTunes.app/Contents/Resources/zh_TW.lproj/iTunesExtraGridView@2x.png
+ 3.6K /Applications/iTunes.app/Contents/Resources/zh_TW.lproj/iTunesExtraListView.png
+ 5.6K /Applications/iTunes.app/Contents/Resources/zh_TW.lproj/iTunesExtraListView@2x.png
+ 391.9K /Applications/iTunes.app/Contents/XPCServices/VisualizerService.xpc
+ 151.4M /usr/bin
+ 24.9M /usr/include
+ 130.9M /usr/lib
+ 86.1M /usr/libexec
+ 613.5M /usr/local
+ 45.5M /usr/sbin
+ 495.4M /usr/share
+ 93.0M /usr/standalone
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,439
6,735
That's one of the prime reasons why I see no reason or purpose in using TM --- it just "backs up" over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and...

I prefer a cloned backup with CarbonCopyCloner (or one could use SuperDuper instead).
The backup runs when I want it to...
 

AlexNordic

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2018
3
1
St Albans, UK
Yes, I got that already from the other threads.

Any idea on why TM could behave like this? Is it normal? I assume this doesn't happen to everybody.
 

ignatius345

macrumors 68030
Aug 20, 2015
2,684
3,615
@AlexNordic:
For that reason I use https://tclementdev.com/timemachineeditor/.

Configure Time Machine in the System Preferences, then switch off Time Machine! Open Time Machine Editor and choose your settings.

Problem solved.
Same here. I got tired of hearing my rather loud external drive spin up every hour, so I used Time Machine Editor to switch it to twice a day.

People love to crap on Time Machine on here, but it's a hell of a lot better than not backing up and has saved my @$$ on many occasions. I also use CCC, which is awesome, for 1x/month backups which are kept offsite.
[doublepost=1537852447][/doublepost]
Yes, I got that already from the other threads.

Any idea on why TM could behave like this? Is it normal? I assume this doesn't happen to everybody.
There's tons of stuff on your machine that gets changed just because it's running, and Time Machine is doing its job by syncing everything so you basically have hourly snapshots of your whole Mac. It's normal behavior. If the noise is bugging you, Time Machine Editor is a nice way to cut down the frequency.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,439
6,735
ignatius wrote:
"LOL, that's exactly what it's designed to do."

Yes, and that's also exactly why I don't use it.

I don't need 20 backups of essentially the same thing.

I DO need one or two cloned backups that I can reach for and boot from in a "moment of extreme need".

That strategy has worked for me for 30 years of Mac'ing.
 

ignatius345

macrumors 68030
Aug 20, 2015
2,684
3,615
ignatius wrote:
"LOL, that's exactly what it's designed to do."

Yes, and that's also exactly why I don't use it.

I don't need 20 backups of essentially the same thing.
Haha, it's that "essentially" that will get you when you need a current version of something that got corrupted or which you need to recover an earlier version of. ;)

And I would never advise a casual Mac user to avoid Time Machine. CCC is a wonderful tool, but most users aren't going to a) spend money on it and b) get around to using it regularly enough to protect their current data. It's great that you've been doing manual clones for 30 years or whatever, but Time Machine is a "set it and forget it" solution for casual users.

I DO need one or two cloned backups that I can reach for and boot from in a "moment of extreme need".
Yeah, I keep bootable CCC clones around too (kept offsite, thanks), and have for at least the last 10 years, but I honestly can't remember the last time I had to actually boot from one. Nice to know if a meteor hits my house I'll be protected though :)
 
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