Recently, my Time Machine disk exhibited some filesystem errors. Disk Utility was able to correct them, but I don't trust the existing backup content much, and by extension, don't trust incremental backups made against that content.

I would like to force Time Machine to create a new, full backup (or, at the very least, an incremental backup while actually comparing all files and their content) without destroying the old backup content. I know I can destroy the existing backups and go again, but I'd rather preserve the history, imperfect as it may be.

How can (or, even, can) I do this?

  • Were you able to make TM to do a full backup? – Crowder Dec 13 '15 at 16:23
  • @Crowder Unfortunately, no. – zigg Dec 17 '15 at 18:08
  • I have an untested idea about this based on another post I just got answers to. If you sudo tmutil delete to delete the paths on your backup drive that have backups you find questionable, and make sure to wipe out all backups after a certain point in time, then this should change what is seen by TimeMachine on your backup drive. The result is that your next backup should be either a full backup or one that is an incremental change to the last reliable backup you made. Not sure how to prove it though. Process can be tested but we would not know 100% if it is right restore from backup. – TMWP Apr 11 '18 at 16:32

The mechanism to force a full backup isn't well documented, but it does get logged to the console logs as Forcing deep traversal on source: "Macintosh HD" ... but even if this happens, the system will base the storage of new copies of files on what exists on the backup volume previously.

I would add a new drive and back up to it once if you are concerned that your backup is no longer reliable.

From the command line, you can then check on things with tmutil compare or by using a tool such as BackupLoupe to convince yourself that specific (or ongoing) backups are correctly being made.

You can hint that a full scan is needed by excluding all the files you care about in options. Then run a backup, then remove the folders / files from the exclusion and then tigger or wait for the next backup.

  • Is BackupLoupe free or do you have to pay for it? Do you know if Apple endorses it or not? – TMWP Apr 11 '18 at 16:34
  • @TMWP I pay for it but I think you can try it for free. I thing Apple explicitly does not endorse any third party software - across the board forever. Even the software they sell in the App Store isn't endorsed in any way by Apple. – bmike Apr 11 '18 at 17:02

If you press alt/option key and then click on TimeMachine icon at the top (you can turn the icon on in TimeMachine settings), it will give you an option to verify the existing backup. If that verification fails, TimeMachine will offer you to recreate the backup (you'll loose the history).

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