I erased (not deleted) the entire Time Machine disk by accident in Disk Utility instead of another disk. Under "Security Options" it was set to "Don't Erase Data", so I would think that it means the data is there, but the directory and information of where/how everything is stored is gone.

Is it possible to recover my Time Machine disk?

EDIT: In looking at disk recovery programs, some seem to be able to recover entire partitions if nothing has been overwritten (which is the case for me). I'm using Disk Drill as an example, which appears to have this function. So, I am wondering if recovering the erased disk to a new disk would be a way to get my Time Machine disk back?

UPDATE: Here is what I've been able to do:

-I used Disk Drill to scan and recover all of the files to another disk, but as expected the file structure and names are all gone. I also tried Disk Utility and Disk Warrior to try and repair/recover the directory with no luck.

-I've created an full backup of my system on another disk to cover me for now.

-I also have a disk I keep offsite that has just a couple of backups starting 6 months ago, but not as far back as my erased disk.

It just seems strange the way that Time Machine is set up, where basically everything is there, but no way to identify anything. Someone should write a program that compares all of the nameless files against files on the machine itself to at least rename those files, and then the files that are related to it would have to be older versions of it. Anyone have any other ideas?

1 Answer 1


The chances of recovering the directory structure & therefore the data intact in its original form are minimal.

Time Machine uses a complex structure of links to files in order to reduce disk usage & preserve the actual timeline.

You may be able to recover specific individual files if you absolutely need something recovered from the history - though I'd be inclined to think that any recovery software will get confused by the linked structure & think it can recover 10TB from a 1TB backup.

If you feel you are safe enough with only a backup from today onwards, with no history, then I would say that would be the best plan.
Start over, let Time Machine make a full fresh backup.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .