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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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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

If you're comfortable with using Terminal.app (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 Terminal.app
  2. In one of Terminal.app'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 Terminal.app'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 Terminal.app's window when the deletion is done.

Type man rm for documentation.

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sudo rm -rf triggered an 'Operation Not Permitted' on a bunch of files. I had to use this approach: http://superuser.com/questions/162690/how-can-i-delete-time-machine-files-using-the-commandline/387464#387464

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