As much as I love Apple’s Time Machine, it’s a hard drive pig. If not carefully watched, the little porker will use every spare byte of free space it can. What is particularly obnoxious, however, is that you might not realize you have a problem until it is too late and you’re backup drive is filled to capacity.
Take my situation as an example. I have a single MacBook Pro notebook with a 250 GB hard drive. Most of my files are text based and on the smallish side. In comparison, my networked backup is a hefty 1.5 terabytes. The combination of small hard drive and large backup drive had me thoroughly convinced that I wouldn’t have to worry about free up space for years.
I was wrong.
Because of the size of the backup drive, I like to keep other files on it – mostly music and video files – so that I have a duplicate copy. But earlier this week, I got a nasty surprise while trying to add an album I had just downloaded from Amazon Mp3. The Mac informed me the backup drive was full.
As you might guess, I found this to be very confusing. How could the drive be full? Sure … I had three or four hundred gigabytes of music and video files on it, but there was no way that the Time Machine backup could be over a terabyte in size … Could it?
This situation didn’t smell right, so I decided to investigate. I mounted the backup drive and tracked down the Time Machine sparsebundle and confirmed the impossible. My Time Machine Backup was a whopping 1.15 terabytes worth of disk space. “How in the world could the backup be so large?”, I asked myself. “Time Machine is supposed to be an incremental system. 1.15 terabytes is big enough to hold every bit and byte on my computer four and a half times over!”
First, I got annoyed; then, I got angry. What really tipped the scale toward seething fury, however, was failing to find any straightforward way of getting the space back. Yet another spectacular example of Apple’s “simple over useful” approach to computer design!
After the first bout of obscenities, I came to a simple conclusion: I could publicly express my dissatisfaction with Apple’s product line or I could go about trying to find a solution. Publicly spouting off was unlikely to help much, so I opted for the latter option. What follows is a brief summary of what I learned.
Show me more... »