I am trying to copy over the time machine backups folder, "backups.backupdb" to a new drive but it keeps giving me errors like "V100 Spotlight" permissions issues.

If I changed the permissions of the entire backups folder, would it result in corruption? Thanks

  • Can you edit with a full error message?
    – grg
    Aug 30, 2017 at 8:20

1 Answer 1


Please don’t tamper with the permissions of your Time Machine backup as this could indeed get you into trouble.

One of the problems you have trying to copy your Time Machine backup is the fact that Time Machine uses a feature called “hard links” which lets a single file show up in different folders multiple times. I. e., the file (precisely: its inode) is stored only once but it can have an arbitrary number of associated directory entries. If you copied these files using a tool unaware of hard links you would probably create unnecessary duplicates of these hard-linked files.

You should use Disk Utility (found in /Applications/Utilities) to clone the whole backup partition to the new drive or partition. Doing so will get you around the hard link problem as a block-level copy will be made instead of a file-level copy.

  • The Disk Utility function you are referring to, is it just creating an image from folder? In other words, File > New Image > Image from Folder? And creating a DMG file?
    – user321627
    Aug 30, 2017 at 17:25
  • No, you rather select the destination disk, click the “Restore” button, and select the source disk from the dialog appearing.
    – Tom E
    Aug 30, 2017 at 20:03
  • 1
    Restore doesn't work for me on Mojave. I get Source volume format on device is not valid for restoring. Could not validate source - Operation not permitted
    – Raymond
    Oct 24, 2018 at 0:21
  • @Raymond That should be a new question pointing to this answer and give information as to how the diss are formatted APFS or HFS+ or ....
    – mmmmmm
    Oct 24, 2018 at 15:24

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