How do I format my New Drive and Move the old backups from my Old Time Machine?... Now it would seem straight forward at first with a simple drag and drop from old to new drive, but my old drive is encrypted, so maybe it is not possible???

  • Old Drive : 512GB APFS (Case-Sensitive, Encrypted)
  • New Drive : whatever is best?

The Goal... Copy Old Data onto New Drive and setup New Drive as the new TimeMachine drive.

I could not find a relevant Guide to do this, nor could Apple answer this question (on first 2 calls, they are still working on it.)

These are Steps I tried (found online and from Apple Support):

  • Connected both Old and New drives to my Mac. The New Drive required Formatting which I formatted in Mac OS Extended (Journaled) on GUID Partition, I halved the Disk and also had an exFAT partition.
  • Set the user permissions on the new backup drive. Selected the new drive in Finder > File > Get Info > click on the disclosure triangle next to Sharing & Permissions > unchecked "Ignore ownership on this volume".
  • Turned off Time Machine, by setting to Manual.
  • Tried Copying (Drag n Drop) the main folders, but they would not they just snap back to their own location, I was able to copy the sub folders but that could be incorrect as they may not be fully accurate files and they would not be loaded into TimeMachine.

The Above did not work as each folder could not be copied.

The Pic shows the Source Drive (512NVMEUSB and the Destination TimeMachine

enter image description here

I am not sure this can be solved. Other sites have no answer, that I could find, and an Apple Senior Support Rep is searching for an answer and should come back in 2 days time.

I hope someone else has a better answer

  • 1
    Pls edit your question to include only what you have exactly done to accomplish what you wish to do and the error messages or warnings you got in reaction, not what you were told to do by someone or some source. Including the latter makes your question rather more difficult to understand and solve your actual problem. In addition, is there any reason you do not wish to start simply a new back up drive and keep the old one around in case?
    – Alper
    Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 5:26
  • 1
    Copying TM disks is impossible with APFS TM. The instructions you have found (or were given) apply to old HFS+ TM backups. You should just format the new drive as APFS and tell TM to use it (with encryption).
    – Gilby
    Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 6:56
  • Adding to comment from @Gilby ... external drives are cheap enough, take the old backup and put it on the shelf, if you need to refer to something in the prior backup set, you have it. Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 14:53
  • These are both good answers.I would accept these Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 20:48
  • I'll give it time for other Answers to land, but please add yours, so I can select it. It seems like the answer is, 1. It cannot be done, and 2. I should keep the disk as a spare backup for a few months. Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


Before macOS 11 (Big Sur) Time Machine used HFS+ formatted disks. Whilst not easy it was possible to copy TM backups to a new HFS+ formatted disk. See some of the "related" links in the side bar.

This question and answer Is it possible to copy an entire APFS format Time Machine disk to another drive under Monterey?, suggests that it is possible but unpractical to copy APFS Time Machine drives. From the discussion following the answer, I have doubts that it is possible.

For practical purposes, copying an entire Time Machine disk to a new Time Machine disk is impossible.

Glenn Fleishman agrees with this, see https://www.macworld.com/article/609296/cant-directly-copy-time-machine-backups.html. His solutions are to either keep the old drive on the shelf or to copy selected folders (or all folders) from selected backup dates to a non-TM disk.

I strongly recommend that:

  1. You put the existing Time Machine to one side. Keep it in case you find the need to restore something. When you are confident you won't need the backup, reformat and reuse the disk for other purposes.

  2. You start again with Time Machine on the new disk.

For encryption, there is no point in encrypting the disk in Disk Utility as Time Machine will create a new volume (or replace one you specify). Tell Time Machine to enable encryption.

  • 1
    Nice Background! - And I took your advice and the time saved by just putting the old disk aside for later re-formatting was far more valuable than the cost of the disk. Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 1:22

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