I'm having trouble locating files in Time Machine back-ups. When I activate Time machine, the files backed-up from the internal drive show up as expected. But the files that are back-upped from a (second) external USB drive don't show up there. The external drive does not show up in activated Time Machine, so there is no way to navigate to the files.

However, the files are there. When I access the TM drive as root via Terminal, the files are accessible.

Any help as to why the files do not show up, and how to fix it is greatly appreciated!

I'm running Macos Catalina 10.15.3on an i5 Mac Mini


Update> screenshot

1 Answer 1


In time machine backups, under options, is your external disk listed as excluded? Remove it, and time machine utility will be able to go back for files in the external drive from that point on (because it wasn't even backing up previously).

  • Thanks for your reply. The external disk is not excluded. In fact: the drive is not connected anymore, and not available to connect if I wanted. So... could it be that I can only access files from Time Machine backups, when the original external drive is connected?
    – Koen B
    Jun 8, 2021 at 18:31
  • The external disk is excluded as soon as it is plugged in unless it is removed from the list manually while it is plugged in. For example, my portable flash drive only shows in the excluded list when it is plugged in. If you cannot plug in the drive, and you thinkyou included it earlier, go inside the time machine backup and go inside whichever date you want to restore. Then look for a folder inside there with the name of a disk. For example, the path could be: Time Machine Backups/2021-06-02-080158/Extra Storage 1 (my path for june 7). If you cant see the disk, Im afraid that it isn't there Jun 8, 2021 at 19:27
  • Thanks again. The external disk was included in the back-up, I can locate the external drive, see screenshot. However, I cannot access the folder. Even using Terminal as root, the files can be listed, but not deleted (which is what I want).
    – Koen B
    Jun 8, 2021 at 20:33
  • Oh, now I understand. As root can’t access, I guess you could format the TM disk if you don’t need your previous backups. Maybe disabling SIP would help but that would be a list-ditch effort. Jun 8, 2021 at 21:33
  • 1
    I guess user-based protection went away on another computer. Jun 9, 2021 at 14:58

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