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I've had my Time Machine backup volume (sparsebundle) for a couple of years now and it's become quite large. Since it is very easy to delete old backups of certain directories in the GUI I was wondering if it is safe to just delete all backups of for example /System/ and a lot of subfolders of /Library/ because those files get replaced on every OSX upgrade and I won't ever go back to an old operating system anyway. Is that safe to do? There is nothing on the internet about that. Or is /System/ usually excluded anyway? That would kind of make sense, right?

Any thoughts on that? Thank you!

  • Do not hesitate in delete everything you do not need in the future, Time Machine will create a current copy of the required files. – cave-canem Oct 17 '16 at 23:03
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You can certainly do this. I would first set Time Machine to exclude the system folder and then get a back up or two intervals.

Then you can browse the current backup and step back in time. Once you see a folder show up - control click (right click) and delete all versions of the affected folders.

In practice, system changes are very low and small - so you might only save 20 GB or so. Applications might save a little more space, but you can do what you want.

I generally just set my drive on the shelf and get another $100 drive and start over. Much easier than squeezing the last few GB from a full drive - but if you back up to a network volume - cloning that to an external drive takes quite some time in practice. That's also a nice option if you can spend the time and then start over. Be sure to test restoring a file before you delete anything you might care to not lose.

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