fixed : delete an old TimeMachine-backup file from a Time Capsule

Question :

I’ve bought a new MacBook and I want to use my existing Time Capsule for it’s TimeMachine-backups, but it’s full. The backup-file, a .sparsebundle-file, from my previous MacBook that I am going to pass on to one of my children, is far too big.

I have installed my new MacBook from the old MacBook’s TimeMachine-backup, so I am not needing that backup again, but I want to make two new TimeMachine-backups as soon as possible : one for my new MacBook and one for the old MacBook right after my child starts using it.

But, I can’t seem to delete the old .sparsebundle-file from my Time Capsule completely… I’ve done several attempts, but I keep running into the same error message “The operation can’t be completed because some items had to be skipped. For each item, choose File > get Info, make sure “Locked” is deselected, and then check the Sharing & Permissions section. When you are sure the items are unlocked and not designated as Read Only or No Access, try again.”. On first sight, the .sparsebundle-file is still there. On further inspection, it turns out the the .sparsebundle-file has shrunken in size.

But… what can I do to completely delete the old .sparsebundle-file ?

 

Answer :

This problem can occur especially with bigger and older .sparsebundle-TimeMachine-backup-files. Note that the really new TimeMachine-backup-files have a .backupbundle-extension, not a .sparsebundle-extension, but there is hardly any difference

To be able to delete the old .sparsebundle-file, start by doing this :

  1. connect your new MacBook to the Time Capsule using a UTP/Ethernet-cable
    • make sure to shut off AirPort/WiFi on your MacBook :
      • in the top menu-bar, click on the AirPort/WiFi-icon (the piece of pie)
      • in the pulldown-menu, set the WiFi-slider to OFF
    • if you do not have an Ethernet-port or a USB-to-Ethernet-converter on your MacBook :
      • connect your MacBook to the Time Capsule using AirPort/WiFi
      • but make sure to disconnect all other AirPort/WiFi-connected devices
  2. Make sure that your Time Capsule has the latest firmware installed :
    • goto Applications > Utilities > AirPort Utility
    • open AirPort Utility
    • in the AirPortUtility-window, click on your Time Capsule’s picture
    • when prompted, enter the Time Capsule’s password
    • in the popup-window, at ‘version’ check if there is an update available
    • if so, click on the button to install it
    • if just the version number is shown, you already have the latest firmware installed, so you don’t need to do anything extra here
    • exit AirPort Utility
  3. Make sure that you have read&write-privileges on the .sparsbundle-file you want to remove :
    • right-click ( CTRL-click ) on the Finder-icon (blue-grey face icon) in the far left of the Dock
    • from the popup-list, select New Finder Window
    • scroll down to the “Locations” group in the menu list at the left and click on “Network”
    • in the window that opens, goto Network > Time Capsule
      • if you have multiple Time Capsule devices, make sure you select the Time Capsule that the .sparsebundle-file you want to delete is actually on
    • if it says “Not Connected” click the “Connect as”-button and typ the Time Capsule’s password
    • if it says “Connected”, you’re good
    • open the Data folder and right-click ( CTRL-click ) on the TimeMachine-backup-file you want to delete
    • from the popup-menu, choose Get Info
    • in the Get Info window that opens, choose these settings :
      • uncheck the check-box at “Locked” (so the file is unlocked, i.e. delete-able)
      • uncheck the check-box at “Hide extension” (so the .sparsebundle extension will be visible in the file name)
      • at “Sharing & Permissions” set Privilege for “everyone” to “Read & Write”
    • close the Get Info window

Having set the above, there are various options that might enable you to delete the old .sparsebundle-file (or .backupbundle-file). Your options are listed below, from simple to extreme. Read all of them before starting, and choose the option you want to try first. Any of these might be successful, and if the one you chose first doesn’t work, just try another one.

Option #1 : delete the .sparsebundle-file from within the Finder

  • goto Finder > New Finder Window
  • goto Locations > Network > Network > Time Capsule > Data
  • right-click ( CTRL-click ) on the .sparsebundle-file you want to delete
  • from the popup-list, select “Move to Bin”
  • wait for the “Move to Bin” action to complete
  • if it doesn’t end in an error, empty the bin/trash (and you’re done)
  • if this ends in an error, try any of the other options

Option #2a : additional TC reset

  • restart your Time Capsule by unplugging the power cable for 30 seconds
  • plug the power cable back into the Time Capsule
  • when the Time Capsule comes back online, follow the directions from Option #1

Option #2b : additional Mac reset

  • shut down your Time Capsule by unplugging the power cable (for 30 seconds)
  • shut down your MacBook by selecting Shut Down from the Apple-menu top-left
  • plug the power cable back into the Time Capsule
  • restart your MacBook by pressing the power button
  • when both your Time Capsule and your MacBook have restarted, follow the directions from Option #1

Option #2c : additionally disconnect other devices

  • shut down your Time Capsule by unplugging the power cable (for 30 seconds)
  • now, disconnect all UTP/Ethernet-cables leading to other devices than your MacBook (you can even disconnect the cable connected to your internet modem-router)
  • shut down your MacBook by selecting Shut Down from the Apple-menu top-left
  • plug the power cable back into the Time Capsule
  • restart your MacBook by pressing the power button
  • when both your Time Capsule and you MacBook have restarted, goto Applications > Utilities > AirPort Utility
  • in the AirPort Utility window, click on the picture of your Time Capsule, typ your password if needed and check which devices are connected
  • then, one-by-one go to each device listed and shut down it’s WiFi-connection
  • when done, close the AirPort Utility application and reopen it
  • again, in the AirPort Utility window, click on the picture of your Time Capsule, typ your password if needed and check which devices are connected
  • you should now see no devices listed at “wireless clients” (except for your MacBook if you aren’t able to connect it using a UTP/Ethernet-cable)
  • then, follow the directions from Option #1
  • NOTE : do not forget to plug all UTP/Ethernet-cables back into your Time Capsule and switch on WiFi on all devices that were previously connected

Option #3 : by backing up the Time Capsule content

  • NOTE : you will need a Mac-connectable external USB-harddisk for this ! (at least as many GBs as the internal HD of your Time Capsule, so 500G, 1TB, 2TB, 3TB of larger)
    • to check if the USB-harddisk is Mac-connectable, plug it into your Mac and if it pops up you’re okay
    • if it doesn’t show up, it’s a Windows NTFS-disk that needs to be reformatted to Mac Journailed format ( note that this erases all content, so ONLY reformat it if it’s an empty brand-new external harddisk ! )
  • NOTE : this method will work 99% of the time, but it will probably take (far) more time than any other method
  • start by connecting the external USB-harddisk to your Time Capsule’s USB-port
  • then, on your MacBook, goto Finder > New Finder Window
  • then, in the top menu-bar, goto Finder > Preferences
  • in the Finder Preferences window, click the Sidebar tab
  • in the list that shows up, make sure that “External disks” and “Connected servers” are checked
  • then close the Finder Preferences window
  • now select the New Finder Window you had just opened
  • goto Locations > Network > Network > Time Capsule
  • next to the Data-folder, there is now a new folder named after your externe USB-harddisk
    • for the following, assume that your extern USB-harddisk folder is simply called “usb-HD”
  • goto Locations > Network > Network > Time Capsule > usb-HD
    • if the “usb-HD” folder is completely empty, you’re okay
    • else, click on the “More” icon (the circle with 3 dot in it) and in the dropdown menu click “New Folder” and call it “TC-backup”
  • goto Locations > Network > Network > Time Capsule > Data
  • inside the Data-folder select all files (both backup-files and other files) that you DO NOT want to delete
  • drag&drop all the files into Locations > Network > Network > Time Capsule > usb-HD
    • it may take some time for all files to copy over, so let it run
    • if you run into an error, try copying over every file one-by-one
    • if you still run into an error, just try again
  • when all files are copied over, you can unplug the external USB-harddisk from your Time Capsule
    • as an extra safety precaution, you can unplug the power cable from your Time Capsule before you unplug the USB-cable and replug the power cable when the external USB-harddisk is disconnected
  • then goto Applications > Utilities > AirPort Utility
  • open AirPort Utility
  • in the AirPortUtility-window, click on your Time Capsule’s picture
  • when prompted, enter the Time Capsule’s password
  • in the popup-window, click the Edit-button
  • in the window that opens, select the “Disks”-tab
  • in the Disks window, click the “Erase Disk”-button
  • next, choose the level of security for the erase (“Quick Erase” should do fine, since you are going to use the disk for the same purpose immediately afterwards)
  • then click “Update” and the Time Capsule’s status light wil flash orange-yellow until the disk is erased and the Time Capsule is accessible again
  • then, exit AirPort Utility
  • goto Locations > Network > Network > Time Capsule > usb-HD or Locations > Network > Network > Time Capsule > usb-HD > TC-backup (depending on where you put your Time Capsule back-up files)
    • if you don’t see the “usb-HD” folder, make sure your external USB-harddisk is plugged back into your Time Capsule
  • now, select all files from the back-up folder (either “usb-HD” or the “TC-backup” folder within it)
  • drag&drop all the files into Locations > Network > Network > Time Capsule > Data
    • it may take some time for all files to copy over, so let it run
    • if you run into an error, try copying over every file one-by-one
    • if you still run into an error, just try again
  • when the copying is finished, you should now have your Time Capsule the way you wanted it : exactly the same (backup) files on it’s disk, but without the .sparsebundle(s) you don’t need anymore

Option #4 : manually deleting all files inside

  • goto Finder > New Finder Window
  • goto Locations > Network > Network > Time Capsule > Data
  • right-click ( CTRL-click ) on the .sparsebundle-file you want to delete
  • from the popup-list, select “Open Package Content”
  • in the Finder window that opens click on the “bands” folder
    • if the “bands” folder appears empty, just wait a few moments for its content to appear in the Finder window
  • SHIFT-click on the top file and scroll down to select multiple files, then press the Backspace-button on your keyboard to delete them
    • you are able to select and delete up to 8000 files per batch (according to user ‘cmaryg’)
    • if a batch refuses to delete at the first attempt, just try again – usually it will eventually be deleted anyway (according to user ‘cmaryg’)
    • if a batch refuses to delete after a few attempts, reduce the number of files in it by selecting less files at once and try deleting again
    • if you happen to run into a single file that refuses to delete, do this :
      • right-click ( CTRL-click ) on the file
      • from the popup-list, select “Get Info”
      • in the window that opens, make sure that there is no checkmark at “Locked”
      • then try deleting the file again
  • then repeat this for the next batch of files, until the “bands” folder is completely empty
  • if the “bands” file is completely empty, close the Finder window that displays the “bands” folder
  • then, goto Finder > New Finder Window
  • goto Locations > Network > Network > Time Capsule > Data
  • right-click ( CTRL-click ) on the .sparsebundle-file you want to delete
  • from the popup-list, select “Move to Bin”
  • if it doesn’t end in an error, empty the bin/trash (and you’re done)
  • if this ends in an error, you can still try Option #3, but probably this will help too :
    • goto Locations > Network > Network > Time Capsule > Data
    • right-click ( CTRL-click ) on the .sparsebundle-file you want to delete
    • from the popup-list, select “Open Package Content”
    • in the Finder window that opens, select the top folder and drag it to the bin (trash)
    • repeat this for all folders listed
    • then, select the top file and drag it to the bin (trash)
    • repeat this for all files
    • if you run into a file that refuses to delete, do this :
      • right-click ( CTRL-click ) on the file
      • from the popup-list, select “Get Info”
      • in the window that opens, make sure that there is no checkmark at “Locked”
      • then try deleting the file again

That should be it !

As mentioned before : the Option #3 method will work (nearly) always, but it’s time-consuming and you will need a lot of extra disk space for it (on an external harddisk).

enjoy ūüėČ

 

fixed : changing the name of a Time Machine backup .sparsebundle-file

Question :

I have transported my user account from my old Mac to my new Mac (using the Migration Assistant application) some weeks ago. Yesterday, I happend to click¬†on the Data-drive from my TimeCapsule in the Finder, and I noticed that the TimeMachine backup-file (.sparsebundle-file) is still named after my old Mac… the name hasn’t changed to the new Mac’s name…

I find this utterly confusing. Is there something I can do to change the name of the .sparsebundle-file ?

 

Answer :

Yes there is, but it appears not all versions of the TimeMachine software are happy with changing the name of the .sparsebundle-file by the user.

So if you want to change the name of a TimeMachine backup-file (.sparsebundle-file) but wish to minimize the risk of corrupting your entire TimeMachine backup-file (one thus loosing all your data), follow this procedure :

1- make sure you are operating your Mac from a user account with administrator rights

2- go to Apple –> System Preferences –> Sharing

3- there, change the “Computer Name” to a name that identifies you new Mac (and the .sparsebundle-file)

4- then, go to the TimeMachine-icon in the Finder’s top menu bar and select “Back Up Now” from the pulldown menu

5- wait for the TimeMachine backup has finished (this might take longer than normal), and check to see if the .sparsebundle-file has been renamed (go to your TimeMachine backup drive using the Finder to do so)

The above will probably be sufficient if you are running MacOSX 10.7 “Lion”, OSX 10.8 “Mountain Lion” or OSX 10.9 “Mavericks”, and if it works, it’s the preferred way for changing the name of the .sparsebundle -file, as it minimises the risk on corrupting¬†your backups. So, always try the above procedure first !

If you are running MacOSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard” or earlier (probably even Mac OSX 10.4 “Tiger” and even PowerPC Macs with G4 and G5 processors that can run the Time Machine software), and the above procedure didn’t change the name of the .sparsebundle-file, try this :

Рduplicate your .sparsebundle-file to another harddisk, or select a new backup harddisk to make an entirely new TimeMachine backup to  (to make sure you have a backup in case you accidentally mess up ; if your sparse bundle-file is your one-and-only and irreplaceable backup, make sure you do this !)

– make sure the .sparsebundle-file is operating correctly by testing it using the “Enter¬†TimeMachine”-option from the pulldown menu that appears when clicking on the TimeMachine-icon in the Finder’s menu bar

– make sure you are logged in as a user with Administrator rights

– click on the TimeMachine-icon in the Finder’s top menu bar and select “Back Up Now”

– after the backup has finished, go to your (primary) TimeMachine-drive in the Finder, click on the .sparsebundle-file and change it’s name

– then, go to the TimeMachine Preferences (either through the System Preferences or through the pulldown menu from the TimeMachine-icon in the top bar of the Finder)

– there, switch off TimeMachine and exit the System Preferences

– then, open the TimeMachine Preferences (within the System Preferences) again, and switch TimeMachine back on, then exit the System Peferences

Рthen, go to your (primary) TimeMachine-drive in the Finder again, and check if the name of the .sparsebundle-file has changed

– if the name has changed, check if the TimeMachine-backup works (try to access it by clicking “Enter Time Machine” from the pulldown menu that appears under the TimeMachine-icon in the Finder’s top menu bar), if that works, that’s it, you’re done !

– if somewhere along the procedure, something didn’t work as expected, restart your Mac and try again

– if it name change still won’t stick after several tries, make sure the “Computer Name” of your Mac is named exactly as you like¬†in the Network Preferences (within the System Preferences) and then create an entirely new TimeMachine-backup : add¬†a new drive for TimeMachine-backups (or remove¬†the existing drive and then add the same one again) in the Time Machine Preferences (within the System Preferences),¬†then click “Back Up Now” from the pulldown menu when you select the TimeMachine-icon in the Finder’s top menu bar… and wait…

That should be it.

Enjoy !

ūüėČ

Note : the .sparsebundle-file extension might not be visible ; you can turn it on (or off) in the file’s “Get Info”-window (accessible when right-clicking on the file’s icon in the Finder)

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fixed : “No Volumes Found in backup”-error

Question :

I was trying to get Migration Assistant-app to put all my data on my new Mac, but when I select the sparsebundle backup-file from Time Machine in Migration Assistant, I get an error : “No Volumes Found in backup”.

How can that be ? I’ve made a new TimeMachine-backup just minutes before, and I didn’t get any errors there… what is wrong ?

What can I do to fix this ?

Answer :

Time Machine is great. But there seems to be a bug in the backup-software that causes this “No Volumes Found in backup”-error you’ve encountered. Normally, this error-message should only be displayed when a sparsebundle backup-file is corrupt (for some reason), but it turns out that it is now also displayed when a sparsebundle backup-file is incomplete…

This is probably due to a disconnection from the backup-disk during the TimeMachine-backup process (for instance because of shutting down the Mac, or switching from WiFi- to Ethernet-connection or vice-versa, during backup).

If the original files are still available on your Mac, the solution is rather simple : just go back to your Mac and use Time Machine to make a new backup. If you want extra insurance to prevent this error, either make a new Time Machine backup to a new/fresh harddrive (preferable an external USB- or FireWire-harddisk), or follow the backup-routine outlined in this post.

If the original files are no longer available on your Mac (e.g. your Mac is stolen, sold or you’ve just done a clean install on it, wiping off all of it’s data), you are in trouble…

…in that case, you could try using Disk Utility to repair the sparsebundle-file. If that works, you are in extreme luck… if that doesn’t help, you have very few options other than using the Terminal-app or a specialized expensive retrieving app like DiskWarrior (the cheaper knock-offs turn out not to work in most cases… too bad…).

I will be posting instructions on how to use the Terminal-app for this shortly (in a new post).

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tip : make sure your TimeMachine-update is useable

Question :

While doing a regular check on my Mac with Disk Utility, it just informed me that I have a potential hardware failure, should save a many data as I can and reinstall.

So I was planning on doing a TimeMachine-backup and disk-reformat, followed by a clean install of OSX and copy-back from TimeMachine.

But… I recently found reports on a bug in TimeMachine, that might prevent TimeMachine from recognizing the latest backup…

Is there a way to make sure that my latest TimeMachine-backup is useable ?

 

Answer :

This bug seems to occur with unfinished TimeMachine-backups, either due to disconnection, unplugging or switching from WiFi to Ethernet or vice-versa…

As with all things in life, nothing is 100% sure or secure…

But if you want near-100% assurance that your latest TimeMachine-backup will work after a ‘clean install’, do this :

– make sure your Mac is connected to your TimeMachine-backup-disk in only¬†one way, so if it’s an external harddisk disconnect the Ethernet-network cable and set AirPort/Wifi to OFF, to have the connection¬†‘only via USB’ or ‘only via FireWire’ and if your TimeMachine-backup-disk is a NAS or TimeCapsule, disconnect from AirPort/WiFi (and preferably connect the Ethernet-cable from the NAS or TimeCapsule straight into your Mac, and if possible, stop all other network-connections over Ethernet, by disconnecting all cables, and shutting down AirPort/WiFi) to have the connection ‘only via Ethernet’

– do a new “Back Up Now” in TimeMachine, and make sure it finishes completely before you do anything else (preferably, shut down all other apps before backing up also)

– then startup the Migration Assistant-app (from the Utilities folder in the Applications folder), and type your Mac’s administrator-password when asked

– in the first window, select “From a Mac, Time Machine Backup or startup disk”, and click “Continue”

– in the next window, select the disk that your TimeMachine-backups are on (if you’re on a Time Capsule, you will need to type your TimeCapsule-password when asked), and click “Continue”

– in the next window, a list of all backups (a.k.a. sparsebundles) available on the disk will be displayed ; now you will have to wait a little for each sparsebundle to display what the date is of the backup-version that can be retrieved… if that date matches today’s date, you have a perfect backup available, and you can exit the Migration Assistant-app by repeatedly clicking the “Back”-button

…but if the date is different, or the “No Volumes Found in backup”-error is displayed, your backup is useless for easy recovery ;¬†you will have to exit the Migration Assistant-app, and start over the entire backup-routine explained above, and then check again in the Migration Assistant-app …you have to keep repeating this entire routine until you get today’s date displayed below the backup’s name

If you do not do as described above, you are in serious, enormously time-consuming trouble… ¬†(even though this doesn’t always mean that your personal data is lost… everything might be lost, but… it could also mean you will have to repair the sparsebundle-files and/or it could also mean that you will have to copy everything back ; folder-by-folder or even file-by-file… either in the Time Machine-app or in the Finder ; and all applications will have to be manually reinstalled again…)

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