Time Machine deleted old backup - possible to restore?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by potlatch, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. potlatch macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2006
    #1
    I was backing up my drive this evening. I left the Mac alone and realised when I returned that Time Machine deleted my oldest, and most important, Time Machine backup.

    It's on an external hard drive.

    Is there any way to recover this at all? This is so massively important!
     
  2. r.j.s Moderator emeritus

    r.j.s

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    Mar 7, 2007
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    Texas
    #2
    Not really.

    You could try Data Rescue, but there are no guarantees.
     
  3. Jolly Giant macrumors 6502a

    Jolly Giant

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    #3
  4. potlatch thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 5, 2006
    #4
    I don't think it's been overwritten. Not most of it anyway, it's really photos and graphic design files I need.
     
  5. potlatch thread starter macrumors member

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    #5
  6. Jolly Giant macrumors 6502a

    Jolly Giant

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    #6
    AFAIK, TM will not delete the first (initial, oldest) backup.

    if the files you need were part of that initial BU, they should still be there.

    of course, if they were not, and you deleted them from your startup disk since, TM will have thrown them out eventually.
     
  7. potlatch thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 5, 2006
    #7
    I backed up my PC with Time Machine before I had to totally wipe the machine to reinstall as Snow Leopard was giving me trouble. So last night, it told me it deleted that backup. All I now have are backups made after I reinstalled the system.

    I'm asking if there's any way to recover any of the contents of this backup. Luckily, I have an August 2009 backup of critical files somewhere, but it might be easier if I could recover. It's a Mac archiving system.

    Ideas?
     
  8. gorjan macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
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    CPH
    #8
    I thought that TM only deleted doubles of a file? As in:
    I create two files A and B. A is backed up as A1, then later after some changes as A2 and so forth. B is unchanged. When the disk is full it should delete A2, A3 and so on, but keep B and A1 and the newest Ax. Doesn't it work like this? :(
     
  9. potlatch thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 5, 2006
    #9
    I'll put it this way: I made a Dec 2009 TM backup. Then I wiped and reinstalled the machine, made another backup Mar 2010, and about 5 backups since then. I also understood that when the drive reached capacity, it would leave this 2009 volume alone. It deleted the Dec 2009 backup.
     
  10. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    #10
    That is exactly what it is supposed to do: Keep a backup of the latest state of your hard drive, and keep backups of older states as far back as possible, deleting old things when it needs the space. Anything that is not on your hard drive will _eventually_ disappear. Depends on the hard drive size; if you have a 1 TB drive for backup and 250 GB on your Mac, that should last for ages.

    And no, the files cannot be restored, because Time Machine needed the space for a newer backup. If they could be restored, they wouldn't have been removed.


    Kind of. Let's say your oldest backup is of 29th of September 2009, with the next backup of October 5th. When running out of space, the complete backup of September 2009 will be removed. If file A changed from September to October, and the old version was only in the September backup, then the old version is gone. Or if you had 10,000 photos that you deleted on September 30th, they would not be in the October backup and they would now be gone forever. Anything that hasn't changed from September to October is still there in the October backup.
     
  11. potlatch thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 5, 2006
    #11
    The strange thing is, at the time that I backed up last night, there was roughly 27GB on the hard drive, and TM needed just a little more of this to complete its task. After the oldest volume was deleted, there is now 146GB 'free' on the drive, so not all of it was overwritten.
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    "...it's really photos and graphic design files I need."

    Things like this shouldn't be in a "backup".
    They should be stored in an "archive".

    It SHOULD NOT be created by Time Machine. Rather, the files/folders should be in "plain ol' finder format", easily "seeable" and accessible.

    You can create the archive by simple "finder copying". You DO NOT want these files compressed, etc. In a "moment of need" you may discover you have problems UNcompressing them, or whatever. Again, POFF (plain ol' finder format).

    I would also recommend that you have TWO "archive volumes":
    1. The regular volume.
    2. A DUPLICATE of the ARCHIVE.
    These should be on SEPARATE DRIVES from your "backups", particulary Time Machine backups. You don't want TM "touching" these drives in any way.

    Why two?
    Well, you said these are "files I need", right?
    In that case, they may be too important to be archived into a single location on a single drive.
     
  13. potlatch thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 5, 2006
    #13
    Luckily, with the same rationale, I did this for the most part. But there's likely to be a gap where I may have lost some files.
     

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