I have WD-My book world of 1TB and I struggled for some time to set it up correctly to use it as a disk for usage of time machine on Mac OS X Yosemite.

My question is the following-what is the best way to delete old backups as I don't want to eat up all the HDD with the backups. I'm more than enough with a 1 month old backups.

I read on Apple's website about the deletion on files on disk but as this is a NAS disk it's a bit different than a regular USB external HDD and it shows me only a lookalike of the "img file" (when I go to get info, it says "Sparse Disk Image Bundle") see screenshot:

enter image description here

What is your advice?

  • Time machine will automatically delete backups when it needs more space so no need to do anything – Mark Mar 10 at 17:41

The sparsebundle is a disk image file and probably contains your Time Machine files. If you double-click it, it should be mounted. If not, launch Disk Utility and open it from there (File > Open Disk Image...).

In order to delete backups, enter Time Machine, select a snapshot (time) and right-click in the Finder window. From there you can delete the snapshot by clicking Delete Backup. Watch out no more confirmation will be asked! You can also delete all backups / snapshots of a file or folder by selecting Delete All Backups of ....

If you are more the Terminal kind of person you can also use tmutil. This would look somewhat like this:

sudo tmutil delete /Volumes/Time_Machine_Disk/Backups.backupdb/computer/date/

You should only use these methods and not delete files manually from your mounted sparsebundle image.

  • 1
    just an addition, I'm asked for the confirmation when deleting the backup :) Thanks for the info and help – Damir Sep 3 '15 at 11:00

This is the easiest solution using macOS Terminal.

  1. Get a list of all the backups in Time Machine. This will also show you the full directory path to the backups that you will need in step 2.

    $ tmutil listbackups
    /Volumes/Time Machine Backups/Backups.backupdb/{your-macbook}/2018-10-02-213405
    /Volumes/Time Machine Backups/Backups.backupdb/{your-macbook}/2018-10-09-192323
    /Volumes/Time Machine Backups/Backups.backupdb/{your-macbook}/2018-10-19-212659
  2. Choose which backups to delete based on their date. Note the use of a wildcard * and the use of the directory from step 1. For example, to delete all of 2018's backups you would use this:

    $ sudo tmutil delete '/Volumes/Time Machine Backups/Backups.backupdb/{your-macbook}/2018-'*
  3. The final step is to shrink and recover space from the sparse bundle. Search your backup drive for the .sparsebundle file.

    $ sudo hdiutil compact '/Volumes/{your-mac}.sparsebundle'

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