If i use Time Machine to back up my data to an additional disk, will the backup also contain files marked for deletion that have not been overwritten yet?

To clarify, I do not mean files in the recycling bin, I mean files that have been already emptied from the bin that require tools like Photorec to recover

Thanks for any help

  • Is there any reason it won't already have backed them up in their pre-trash location?
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 6:36
  • In the situation i'm referring to the backup is made after the deletion
    – affa
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 7:35
  • OK, then you're back to recovery methods. Stop using the drive.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 7:37

2 Answers 2


No. Time Machine only backs up files present on the filesystem and furthermore, only those not excluded by a rule or explicit exception.

  • I see, thanks. Is there any way I can back those up?
    – affa
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 1:50
  • Block copy via dd @affa - I’d just go for Date Rescue and get the files back now, tbh.
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 1:53
  • 3
    Once files are deleted from the trash can or via a terminal command, they are no longer files. There may be binary records left on the drive that recovery tools may be be able to find on a good day. Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 3:11

Time Machine does not backup deleted files. The whole point of maintaining a backup is to make copies before files are deleted -- so that if you want to restore them after deletion, you can do so.

It is not useful to think of deleted files as merely 'marked for deletion but still there'.

Having said that, the APFS format does make 'local snapshots', which are alternative catalog entries to older data, including deleted files. So if you're looking to recover deleted files that have not been previously backed up by Time Machine, then the local snapshots may preserve them.

You can browse local snapshots by entering the Time Machine app when the external backup drive is NOT connected. About local snapshots

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