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Managing Time Machine Backups

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Managing Time Machine Backups

Postby bayswater » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:57 pm

I've been looking at my Time Machine backups, and see that I have one Mac that has backups to mid 2013. Some of what is there is useless -- like multiple versions of the EXS24 sample library, old Cinesamples I never use, and so on.

I know TM will start deleting stuff when the disk gets to 80% full, but I don't want it to decide what is deleted on the basis of age. I want to delete things on the basis of whether I'll ever want them again.

I've come across a Terminal command tmutil that appears to be able to remove specific TM generations, and some Finder Commands that appear when you are in TM that will delete all generations of a specific file.

Does anyone have experience with these and other possible tools for managing a TM backup? I guess the usual admonition to backup all your stuff before you proceed doesn't make a lot of sense this case, so proceeding with any of these approaches is probably risky.
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Re: Managing Time Machine Backups

Postby HCMarkus » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:23 pm

I use external USB drives, a matched pair rotated physically in and out of studio weekly, as TM drives. Currently using Seagate 4TB drives. My approach is simple: when the pair starts to get close to full, remove and store and start a new pair, modifying what is to be backed up (to exclude unneeded stuff) before they start rolling along. I connect these drives via USB2 on my Mac Pro. Initial run takes a day+, but ongoing backup is a no-brainer background process.

DP projects are also backed up to a pair of internal spinners (currently 3TB Hitachi drives) before I shut down for the night. When these internal drives are filled (which takes longer than the TM drives), they also get removed and stored.

I have a lot of drives in storage, but drives are cheap, especially in perspective to the time (and love) invited in the work.
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Re: Managing Time Machine Backups

Postby bayswater » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:47 pm

HCMarkus wrote:I use external USB drives, a matched pair rotated physically in and out of studio weekly, as TM drives. Currently using Seagate 4TB drives. My approach is simple: when the pair starts to get close to full, remove and store and start a new pair, modifying what is to be backed up (to exclude unneeded stuff) before they start rolling along. I connect these drives via USB2 on my Mac Pro. Initial run takes a day+, but ongoing backup is a no-brainer background process.

DP projects are also backed up to a pair of internal spinners (currently 3TB Hitachi drives) before I shut down for the night. When these internal drives are filled (which takes longer than the TM drives), they also get removed and stored.

I have a lot of drives in storage, but drives are cheap, especially in perspective to the time (and love) invited in the work.
I guess getting more drives is a wise alternative to mucking about with the backups. Have you seen any problems when you decide to restore something from an older drive you are not using any more? Does it just come up when you enter Time Machine and let you restore files just as it would with a current drive?
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Re: Managing Time Machine Backups

Postby cuttime » Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:10 pm

You might find TimeTracker useful:
https://www.charlessoft.com
Scroll down to Odds and Ends. It is a bit crude, but it does tell you what was backed up and when. I don't think the search and view buttons do anything.
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Re: Managing Time Machine Backups

Postby HCMarkus » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:48 pm

bayswater wrote:Have you seen any problems when you decide to restore something from an older drive you are not using any more? Does it just come up when you enter Time Machine and let you restore files just as it would with a current drive?

I have yet to need to pull from an old (or any, for that matter) Time Machine drive.

My 85 year old mom has certainly needed her TM backup, though!
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Re: Managing Time Machine Backups

Postby bayswater » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:51 pm

Cuttime, I don't know if this app will help manage the existing backup files, but it has already shown me that Time Machine is backing up about .7G of rubbish at least once a day. It's a good start to just stop that.

EDIT: I noticed when this app quits, it doesn't release the backup volume. So any backups made after that fail because the "backup volume is in use". A restart fixes the problem.
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Re: Managing Time Machine Backups

Postby mikehalloran » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:15 am

Why use 3rd party apps? You can exclude files, folders and drives from your TM backups in the Options menu when you open Time Machine System Preferences. My test drives do not get backed up, for example.

Before I went to 6T & 8T TM drives, I excluded my VIs but now I don’t bother.

The pancake Time Capsules are quite easy for drive swapping—a WD Red can be installed in a few minutes. The tower versions require nimble fingers and surgery to the rubber bumpers — I have those done. I have one tower that provides an 802.11ac wireless gateway, otherwise, the rest are pancakes.

If wireless is not an issue and you have Ethernet, the WD MyCloud units are becoming popular. Time Machine is very easy to set up on these and they use WD Red NAS drives. I understand that setting up the other functions for NAS on a Mac is a bit of a pain (no one has asked me yet) but TM is quite easy right out of the box. I’ve bought a few for my customers.
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Re: Managing Time Machine Backups

Postby stubbsonic » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:44 am

I have excluded some folders from my TM list, which does help.

I've been doing a thing where I keep TM running, but I also do a full clone every 6 months or so.
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Re: Managing Time Machine Backups

Postby FMiguelez » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:11 am

But isn't there an app that lets you selectively see and delete certain files/folders without messing up the TM database?
I seem to remember some tool that lets you see graphically the size and files that take up the most space. And it won't mess up anything in the backup.

I could certainly use something like that. For instance, I have many GB of wasted raw-video footage on the TM drives I'd like to get rid of. I know I will never use that again, since they've been edited and assembled. And they take up a huge chunk of the drive space for nothing. That would buy me at least an extra 9-10 months of backups in those disks.

Regarding excluding folders from a TM backup>
The few times I've tried it, I've seen unexpected behaviour. For instance, I rotate 2 TM backup drives. If I then exclude any folder, TM will attempt to backup EVERYTHING again in the other rotating TM drive, as if it were the first time doing it. Doing that seems to break the TM settings. This happens with Yosemite, and I don't know if it's still a problem in newer OSs.
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Re: Managing Time Machine Backups

Postby bayswater » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:12 pm

mikehalloran wrote:Why use 3rd party apps? You can exclude files, folders and drives from your TM backups in the Options menu when you open Time Machine System Preferences. My test drives do not get backed up, for example.

Same here. I've excluded a load of stuff, although the 3rd party app mentioned above made it a lot easier to identify other non obvious large files that are getting backed up -- mostly containers in the main Library folder. My question is not about managing the backup process; Time Machine does that good enough. It's about managing the backups that are there once you have a few years worth, in a way that let you safely control what gets kept and what gets deleted.
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