I changed hard drives for my Time Machine backup. I can't delete the backups on the older hard drive. I get an error code after I use "Move to Trash": -8072. It spends 45min deleting some 1,000,000+ files to end in error -8072. A google search didn't turn up the reason for the error.

Also, for some reason creating a backup on this hard drive locked all my other folders and subfolders. I can unlock them one at a time but this will take a while. Is there a faster way?

  • If there is nothing else o the old hard drive except backup then erase the partition in Disk Utility – mmmmmm Aug 23 '11 at 15:38

On Lion, you can use tmutil to clean things up properly.

To delete backups one by one (snapshot by snapshot).

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

If you are sure you have selected the correct path, 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).

  • Is there any way to remove the entire Backups.backupdb folder without formatting the drive? Or is it as simple as pulling it to the trash when it's emptied? – Emil Feb 9 '13 at 10:34
  • Simple, but takes quite some time. Using tmutil to delete things seems much faster (perhaps an order of magnitude) due to the system deleting files rather than finder going through a less efficient path. The fastest is disabling the special permissions in terminal and then using rm. – bmike Feb 9 '13 at 20:22
  • Add your Terminal app (i.e. Terminal.app or iTerm.app) to your list of apps for full disk access in Settings > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Full Disk Access. – mahal tertin Mar 24 '20 at 14:32

The Time Machine backup format is not designed to let you use the Trash. If you are sure you don't need your old backups, you should

1) Erase and reformat the drive in Disk Utility

2) Go to your Time Machine Preferences, click on Select Disk..., and select the disk again, instructing the Time Machine preferences to take control of the disk and create a new Time Machine backup.

Others have pointed out to me that you can store additional files of your own on your Time Machine volume if you like. But what you should not do is use the Finder to try to delete anything in the Backups.backupdb directory, or to move any files into those directories.

  • I agree that Disk Utility is the way to make that drive reusable again and that manually deleting the files created by Time Machine is not an ideal operation (because of the amount of sym links and such). Having said that, I want to mention that all of my Time Machine drives that I have had, I have used at some point or another to store files in addition to the Time Machine backups with no problem. I've found that as long as I keep those files separate from Time Machine's own backups folder that I can reuse the rest of the drive as any other. – Christian Correa Aug 23 '11 at 17:15
  • I regularly keep terabytes of data side-by-side with Time Machine backups on a single volume. If there is any documentation from Apple that says that this should not be done, I would very much like to see it. – zzz Aug 23 '11 at 22:23
  • I think Christian's point is correct. I'll edit my answer. – user9290 Aug 24 '11 at 0:45
  • I also have data side-by-side the backups on the same partition; I suppose I can leave them there for the time being. It's over a terabyte of used space so I don't have anywhere I can move it to wipe that old drive. – BazookaFist Aug 24 '11 at 7:51
  • This won't work well on Lion - there isn't a nice tool that doesn't care if you are deleting your Mac's backups or another Mac's backups, as long as the drive is currently the destination for your mac so it has delete permissions arranged. – bmike Jul 5 '12 at 20:12

I used Path Finder, the alternative Finder app. I connected my mac directly to my Time Capsule via Ethernet (faster than wifi). Then in Path Finder, I selected the Time Machine disk, selected the sparsebundle, and then chose "Delete" from the Commands menu. It took about 10 minutes to delete a sparsebundle that was about 250GB.

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