I seem to have lost my first backups, they disappeared from time machine!.... Is there a way to get back to them?

  • 1
    Question is too short and unclear. More info needed - what version of OS X. What kind of drive were you backing up to. When did you first start backing up with Time Machine. Etc. – gosmond Feb 22 '13 at 4:41

I think your first backups are most probably auto purged by Time Machine.

Time Machine automatically remove oldest backups when your backup disk is full. And Time Machine keeps hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups until your backup drive is full.

Therefore there's no guarantee that your first backup(s) will be preserved.

You may try data recovery softwares on the Time Machine drive, but quite likely it won't help as Time Machine make new backup hourly and overwritten the old data.

  • Data recovery software definitely won't help if Time Machine deleted those backups in order to immediately overwrite the drive space with new backups. – octern Feb 22 '13 at 6:47
  • @octern Time Machine will delete backup base on 2 conditions: 1 is because the disk is nearly full, it need to free disk space for the next backup. In this case data recovery definitely won't help. 2 is that Time Machine will only keep daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups afterwards, therefore the initial hourly backups between days / weeks will be purged. In this case data recovery might works as long as the data is not overwritten by newer backup yet. – howanghk Feb 22 '13 at 8:57
  • Good point. I didn't realize it started purging old daily backups right away, rather than just not guaranteeing that it would keep them. – octern Feb 22 '13 at 17:08

If you are depending on Time Machine to archive files that you have removed from your hard drive, that's not a backup (there's only one copy of the data- in Time Machine). As Owen mentioned, it's likely that Time Machine automatically purged your early backup(s).

You really need to reevaluate your backup strategy because I don't think you understand what the role of Time Machine is.

  • Not necessarily. They could just be looking to revert to an early version of an existing file. – octern Feb 22 '13 at 6:48
  • If the file was important, there would be more than one copy of it. – EmmEff Feb 23 '13 at 4:22

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