Oct 07

 time machine

If you’re like me after a year or two you may have outgrown your Time Machine backup and with Hard Drive prices dropping it’s time to get a bigger hard disk to host your Time Machine  backup. But starting a new time machine backup on a new hard disk means you lose the continuity with your old backups. Thankfully you can move an existing Time Machine backup from one hard drive to another. Here’s how.

1. Format the new Hard Drive as OSX Extended (Journaled) and make sure ‘ignore file permissions on this volume’ is off.

2. Turn off Time Machine

3. Drag the Backups.backupdb from your old Time Machine Backup to your new Drive. (Yes it’s that simple and it actually works – it’s Apple’s recommended way of doing it!) This may take literally a couple of days.

4. Turn on Time machine and select your new drive.

You can read how to do this step by step in an article by Apple here: Transfer Time Machine Backups.

There’s also a good article about this on c-net. They suggest you use the ‘Copy Exactly’ feature but I did it without this (the way Apple suggested) and it worked fine.




7 Responses to “How to move a Time Machine backup to a different hard drive.”

  1. Lake says:

    What about when the destination drive already has a Time Machine backup (e.g. of a different computer)? In my particular situation, I want to use my Mac to copy the backup (all the snapshots) from one external hard drive (Drive A) to another (Drive B), but Drive B already has another computer’s Time Machine backup.

    None of the backups belong to the computer I’m using to do the transferring. Finder doesn’t allow me to transfer the folder named named after the computer from Drive A’s Backups.backupdb folder to Drive B’s. I tried moving Drive A’s Backups.backupdb folder into another another root level folder on Drive B (resulting in /Volumes/Drive B/some other folder/Backups.backupdb. But tmutil refuses to work with that Backups.backupdb (presumably because it’s not on the drive’s root level). (Attempting to use tmutil to delete a snapshot in a Backups.backupdb that is not at the first level of the external drive returns “Invalid deletion target (error 22)”. Attempting to use tmutil to compare it with another snapshot returns “Can’t compare a source volume descendant to a snapshot.”)

  2. tony says:

    Quick question. Did this and it took forever to copy. when I went back in to TM preferences to awitch tot he new drive I noticed TM was on…even though I was pretty sure I turned it off. The copy seems to work in TM on the new drive even though it doesnt have a few recent backups created durign the 15 hour copy process. is this ok? How can I be sure before I remove the old backups on the original drive.


  3. TonyK says:

    What copy exactly? I looked in Finder preferences and I don’t see that.

  4. Ikomrad says:

    What if you had a time machine running on server A where all the macs on your home network backed up to, then you moved the backup drive to server B and started running time machine server there? How do you point your Mac to re-use the existing backups?

  5. Vincent says:

    My Mac completed that it wasn’t the correct format and want me to format it as OS X Extended (Journaled) case-sensitive

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