I am attempting to access time machine backups on an external hard drive that I have, and transfer them over to a new HDD. Both drives are 2TB. The drive with the time machine backups will not mount, but I can use Disk Drill to access the files on the HDD, thus I am trying to transfer the backups to the hard drive that will mount so I can restore to my latest backup.

When I try and manually drag+drop the files from one drive to the other things take way too long - 4 days. At the end of the 4 days I hit an error that says the drive is full. I've read that this is due to expanding hard links in the time machine backups.

I have also tried running disk utility and doing a restore from the one drive to the other, but of course this copied all the files and also made this new drive unmountable. So I have to reformat drive #2 and figure out an alternative method for copying over the files from the one drive to the other.

Any ideas? I really need to get this machine back up and running.

  • 1
    idk how to get around this, but your issue in trying to use anything not fully TimeMachine-aware is that it will not know how to handle the hard links & simply copy everything 1000 times until the drive is full.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 8, 2019 at 16:09
  • 1
    Couldn't you start with the last backup, i.e. Volumes/YourBackupDisk/Backups.backupdb/YourMacsName/Latest to limit the size of the recovery?
    – n1000
    Commented May 8, 2019 at 18:58

1 Answer 1


If disk drill won’t show you the directory structure, you’ll need to try a tool like Data Rescue it Disk Warrior so you can find the folder with one specific date to navigate and then restore those specific files. That would copy off at full speed.

  • use the folder named Latest unless you’re sure you want to go back to a specific point in time

However, if the drive is failing hardware wise, no tool might be able to speed it up, so consider data rescue if you’re not sure it’s software corruption.

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