Reclaiming Space From Time Machine Backups

Reclaiming Space From Time Machine Backups

Issue: Running out of Space on A Time Machine Disk or on Apple’s Time Capsule


Affects: Macintosh OS X 10.5 and above


Solutions to the issue:

Time Machine Backups are loaded in files called Sparse Bundles. They will continue to grow until the entire disk partition is filled. This can be a problem when using Time Capsule to back up multiple Macs. Follow these steps to reclaim space from a Time Machine Disk..

Step 1: Delete Backups from the Sparse Bundle using Time Machine.

Open time machine while looking at the Boot Hard Drive (Usually named Macintosh HD). Figure out how many backups you would like to delete. Navigate to those backups and click the gear button. Select “Delete Backups.”

Press “OK”

If you encounter the beach ball at this point, wait a few minutes and press the enter button.

When you have removed all the backups you would like exit to the desktop.

Step 2: Mount the Disk and find the name of the Sparse Bundle.

Open up the finder and select the backup drive from the list under “Shared”.

If you are using a Time Capsule you may have to begin a backup in order to mount the disk.

Now open up a Terminal and type:

cd /Volumes/

Dig around until you find the Sparse Bundle for the backup. It will be named something like: Computername_MACaddress.sparsebundle.

Step 3: Shrink the image.

While in the Terminal type in the following command:

hdiutil compact NameOfSparseBundle.sparsebundle

Depending upon how much space is being taken, this could take awhile.

Step 4: Confirm the new size of the sparse bundle by typing in the command: