Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've used my Time Machine drive to back up my main machine, and also a friend's mac. Her machine is now being backed up on another Time Machine drive, and she'd like me to delete her backup.

I'm familiar with the (perhaps obscure) way to delete a particular time machine backup, or how to delete all backups of a particular file, but I have no idea how to delete another machine's backup.

If I had access to her machine, I'd plug in the drive and delete the entire backup of her drives using time machine on her computer. Whether or not it is reasonable to have to do this is irrelevant, I guess, because that machine isn't available to me. :)

Please nobody suggest I drag her backup to the trash. I did that once and the trash never finished emptying.

Any ideas?

share|improve this question
    
I dragged the backup folder of one of my old machines and, like you wrote, I cannot empty the trash. Also I cannot drag it back because there is an error: "The operation can’t be completed because backup items can’t be modified." So how did you get rid of that folder? –  puri Mar 24 '11 at 5:58

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can use the tmutil tool to delete backups one by one.

sudo tmutil delete /Volumes/drive_name/Backups.backupdb/mac_name/YYYY-MM-DD-hhmmss

If you are sure you have selected the correct name, you can delete all backups from that one Mac by not passing in the time and letting it delete the entire folder:

sudo tmutil delete /Volumes/drive_name/Backups.backupdb/mac_name

The sudo command needs your password (and it won't echo to the screen, so just type it and pause to be sure you're dating the correct files before pressing enter).

share|improve this answer

It should be something along the lines of

$ sudo rm -rf /Volumes/BackupVolume/Backups.backupdb/machinename
share|improve this answer
    
I seem to remember trying this "last time" and the command hung for many hours. I ended up just re-formatting the drive, but I don't want to do that in this case... –  aaaidan Mar 9 '11 at 4:30
    
It will take a while if there are many backups, since it's all individual files and not archives. Wait it out. I just did this on an ex-Time Machine drive (having migrated the backup to a larger drive) and it is slow but it will finish. –  geekosaur Mar 9 '11 at 5:16
2  
This won't work since the filesystem protects the Backups.backupdb even from the root user asking to delete files. –  bmike Jul 5 '12 at 20:06

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.