It’s inevitable—your Time Machine backup drive goes to refill. Time Machine is sensible about backing up solely information which have modified, however after months or years of utilization, the drive will run out of area. What occurs then?
Earlier than we clarify, some background. On its first backup, Time Machine copies every little thing in your startup drive to the backup drive. After that, Time Machine retains hourly backups for the previous 24 hours, every day backups for the previous month, and weekly backups for all earlier months. In the event you modify the identical file a number of occasions per day, each day, you’ll have quite a few variations of it in your backup set as a way to return to any explicit model.
So the very first thing that Time Machine does when your backup drive fills up is begin deleting these older variations, starting with the oldest ones. It warns you when this begins taking place and tells you what your oldest remaining backup is. Basically, this method works nicely, because you in all probability don’t want all of the older variations of modified information so long as Time Machine all the time retains the latest model within the backup.
Finally, nevertheless, even this system runs into the wall of onerous drives having solely a lot capability. When that occurs, backups will begin failing, and this notification will seem after each backup try.
Click on the Particulars button in that notification to open the Time Machine pane of System Preferences, and also you’ll be taught extra.
You will have 4 choices at this level, however two of them might not be all that useful.
Delete Previous Backups
One attainable answer—albeit probably a brief time period one—is to delete outdated backups. You may be tempted to look within the Backups.backupdb folder in your Time Machine drive and delete among the dated folders inside. Don’t. You haven't any concept what you’ll be deleting, and also you’ll probably corrupt your complete Time Machine backup, rendering it ineffective.
As an alternative, use a utility like GrandPerspective or OmniDiskSweeper to determine folders or information which are each massive and pointless. Navigate to a type of objects within the Finder, choose it, after which select Enter Time Machine from the Time Machine menu bar icon. As soon as in Time Machine, click on the Motion menu (the gear icon) within the toolbar and select Delete All Backups of .
Alas, this method could not have a lot of an impact, because it’s tough to know what number of backups Time Machine has saved.
Exclude Giant Folders from the Backup
The one drawback with this recommendation is that it’s useful solely earlier than your backup drive fills up. Time Machine gained’t reclaim area utilized by newly excluded objects that exist already in your backup.
Begin Over, Both on a New Drive or after Erasing Your Current Backup Drive
One of many nice options of Time Machine is that it shops earlier variations of information, as we’ve mentioned. However you in all probability know if you happen to’re the kind of one who wants to return to such earlier variations, or if you happen to simply use Time Machine so you'll be able to restore all of your information within the occasion of a drive failure. If the latter is true and also you don’t a lot care about earlier variations of information, a great answer is simply to start out over, both on a brand new drive or after erasing your present drive.
Clearly, erasing your present drive implies that you gained’t have any Time Machine backup in any respect till a brand new one completes, which is a threat. And, after all, if that drive stuffed up as soon as, it can accomplish that once more, doubtlessly pretty rapidly except you exclude some massive folders. However, if you wish to go down that path, open Disk Utility, choose your Time Machine drive within the sidebar, and click on Erase. Then go into the Time Machine preferences once more, click on Choose Disk, and decide your newly erased drive. You'll have to pick it below Backup Disks and click on Take away Disk first.
Getting a brand new, bigger backup drive and beginning over with it's simpler and extra wise, although costlier. When you’ve linked the brand new drive, simply open the Time Machine preferences, click on Choose Disk, and choose the brand new drive.
Or, fairly, in a really perfect world that might be true. You might want to guarantee that the brand new backup drive is formatted correctly for Time Machine. Select About This Mac from the Apple menu, after which click on System Report back to open the System Data app. In its sidebar, click on Storage, choose the drive on the prime, and ensure File System is Journaled HFS+ and Partition Map Kind is GPT (GUID Partition Desk).
If the drive isn’t formatted appropriately for Time Machine, open Disk Utility, choose the drive within the sidebar, click on Erase, and select Mac OS Prolonged (Journaled) from the Format pop-up menu and GUID Partition Map from the Scheme pop-up menu. Then click on Erase to prepared it for Time Machine use. (This may, after all, delete all the information on the drive, so guarantee that’s OK first!)
Copy Your Current Backup to a New, Bigger Drive
What if you wish to retain all these outdated backups? That’s fully attainable, although it can take a very long time to repeat. Observe these steps:
- Join each the outdated and the brand new backup drive to your Mac through Thunderbolt, USB, or Firewire.
- Be sure the drive is formatted correctly for Time Machine, and if it’s not, reformat it in Disk Utility as famous above. Additionally, confirm that the permissions are set appropriately, as above.
- Flip off Time Machine so it doesn’t attempt to again up whilst you’re copying its information. Within the Time Machine choice pane, deselect Again Up Robotically, or click on the Off/On change, relying on what model of macOS you’re operating.
- Drag the Backups.backupdb folder from the outdated drive to the brand new one to repeat it. Chances are you'll be prompted in your administrator identify and password.
- When it finishes, a day or two later, observe the directions above to pick the brand new drive within the Time Machine preferences and ensure to show Time Machine again on.
One closing observe. It might be tempting to make use of another methodology of copying the Backups.backupdb folder, however resist the urge. Time Machine makes use of particular drive buildings to work its magic, and solely the Finder is assured to repeat them appropriately.
(Featured picture primarily based on an unique by Denny Müller on Unsplash)
Social Media: What must you do when your Time Machine backup drive fills up? We examine the choices on this piece: