Currently my TM backups are on an HFS volume. I would like to switch to APFS (for snapshots etc.)

I assume I have to erase the drive and re-format it as APFS.

What's the 'correct' way to save my current backup history? Can I just copy Backups.backupdb to another HFS drive, then copy it back to the new APFS drive, via Finder? (With TM turned off of course.)

Also, my current Backups.backupdb contains backups from 2 machines. I only need to preserve the backups for 1 of them. Can I copy just that subfolder?

(macOS Catalina)


1 Answer 1


You cannot preserve the backups while upgrading the disk to APFS. The structure of the backups are fundamentally different and incompatible.

  • I see. Can I at least somehow copy to the 2nd drive for archive purposes?
    – d0g
    Jul 29, 2021 at 22:08
  • @Dan Better to use the 2nd drive for new APFS backup and keep the old drive untouched until you are ready to erase the old backups.
    – Gilby
    Jul 29, 2021 at 22:42
  • @Gilby, yes that makes sense, but I have to use the old drive because it's a firm-issued 'padlock' secure drive.
    – d0g
    Jul 30, 2021 at 5:12
  • You could but it would take a very long time to copy. If you want to ensure you don't go without a backup, complete a backup to your second drive and then reset the first drive and complete all future backups to that one.
    – Ezekiel
    Jul 30, 2021 at 15:30
  • @Ezekiel If you could cite a source for your information, it would help others confirm whether it's fact or rumor, and within what contexts it applies. For example, here is information to the contrary, so it's hard to know who to believe: apple.stackexchange.com/a/450554/90402
    – LarsH
    Jun 15, 2023 at 15:47

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