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What is the recommended way to get rid of a whole TimeMachine archive (aka Backups.backupdb)?

Using Disk Utility to erase the whole disk is not an option.

I moved everything to the Trash, but "preparing to empty trash" was counting files to delete forever. I cancelled at -100,000 files.

So what's the recommended way to delete huge amounts of files?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

If you're comfortable with using (located in Utilities folder), you can try using Unix sudo rm -r <path>/Backups.backupdb command. Note that <path> is the placeholder for the path to the hard drive where your Time Machine backup is located. Please be careful with the path that you pass to this command by ensuring there is no typo.

The complete steps are:

  1. Launch
  2. In one of's window, type sudo rm -R followed by a space
  3. Use a Finder window to navigate to the Backups.backupdb folder, then
  4. Drag that folder to the's window of step 2, and press the Return key.
  5. You may be challenged to type the password for the admin account (which is usually the same user account that you logged into OS X).
  6. The default prompt will reappear in the's window when the deletion is done.

Type man rm for documentation.

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is Backups.backupdb the same as the MachineName.sparsebundle on the time machine volume? I'm not seeing any backupdb files. (Dec '15, El Capitan) – Olie Dec 4 '15 at 20:14

sudo rm -rf triggered an 'Operation Not Permitted' on a bunch of files. I had to use this approach:

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I found that link on the web, check on the website the time the information was last modified.

I've tried and it is reasonable fast.

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While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. – Tetsujin Jul 16 '15 at 19:21
I fixed it, added the link address. – Marco Jul 16 '15 at 19:37
Hope the answer is fine now, it is actualized, verified, recommended and a fast way to delete backup files. – Marco Jul 17 '15 at 13:22

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