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My 2TB Time Capsule has functioned as our home router and backup device for years.

It's not very fast at backing up over network, but since this is a passive activity it's never been a problem.

I went into the volume to try to clean it up a bit and it's really slow to respond over both GUI and command line.

  • I'm within close wireless range (5 meters, direct line of sight)

  • Pinged packets return in < 1ms, I don't think it's the wifi

  • Browsing the network disk in Finder is very slow, it takes 20+ seconds just for folders and files on the disk to populate

  • tmutil responds just as, if not more slowly (as does simply running ls in the Time Machine volume)

  • Most importantly, trying to delete items via tmutil is way too slow. Usually taking over 45 minutes to delete a 500MB backup.

(I realize that these backups are stored as diffs rather than complete files, so there's some degree of logic that is going into the deletion process, but this still seems absurd)


I looped through my backups and wanted to delete most of them, like so:

sudo tmutil delete /Volumes/Time\ Machine\ Backups/Backups.backupdb/foo/2016-08-10-015922

I have 130 backups I want to remove this device and even at an optimistic 30 minutes per deletion, that's still 65 continuous hours of this script running (for something that should take less than an hour IMO).

What's wrong?


Base Station/Time Capsule OS version: 7.6.9 [11] (latest)

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I don’t think anything is wrong. The hard link directory nature of a time machine backup is extraordinarily iops constrained and coupled with the limited power of the disk controller in AirPort, you’re far better off copying off the files you want to keep and then erasing the volume.

Each backup has a directory entry for each and every file present on the source so each backup interval deletion is actually a ton of work (whereby a ton is defined as 250,000 directory entries with ACL, permissions, date metadata, etc...)

Your network measures are spot on, and I worry your TimeCapsule drive could be failing if a simple ls is lagging so badly.

  • I see what you mean. Too bad disk utility won't run on network drives so I can't verify. Can I just copy backups directly like Backups.backupdb/foo/YYYY-MM-DD-HHMMSS? If it's just hard linking and not symbolic it should be fine I expect? Also, no need to worry about other files up the tree? In Backups.backupdb I have three directories .RecoverySets, .spotlight_temp .spotlight_repair. In the Time Machine volume itself I have tmbootpicker.efi .fseventsd .Spotlight-V100. – Orun Aug 1 '18 at 4:36
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    You are correct about everything except wanting to run a disk utility repair. That might take months. For science I tried once and gave up after 78 days. Feel free to @ me in Ask Different Chat too @Orun – bmike Aug 1 '18 at 9:42

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