03 March 2011

Taming your time machine!

Time machine in OSX is an amazing tool and probably my favourite way to back things up.

It's not perfect though and one of its major flaws, much like all Apple products really, is that it doesn't like to let you look under the hood much. Normally this is fine because it does such a great job but there are some things I would love to do that I simply can't.

One of those things is find out which files are causing my backup to fill up. I recently discovered that things like large database files and caches can really bloat up your backup and since I have no real use for backing this stuff out I typically exclude things like firefox cache directories, mySQL databases and the Dropbox cache DB file (I leave the actual Dropbox files though).

[IMG1]But what if you can't figure out where your bloat is coming from? What if you see that time machine is backing up 2Gb each time it runs but you can't figure out what files are causing it?

Enter GrandPerspective. A free app you can get at sourceforge which is designed to graphically map out a drive or directory. I should mention that its uses go way beyond this article so don't stop playing with it once you've done all that I suggest.

[LIMG2]I simply created a filter to exclude everything except non-hardlinked files over 100Mb and voila! It took a few mintues to churn through all those backups but when it was finished I had an easy-to-read graphical map of all the space hogs on my backup drive. As it turns out I had a large database file in a hidden folder that kept changing.

[IMG3]

Now my backups run zippity-doo-da fast and my backup drive doesn't fill up nearly as fast.

Thanks GrandPerspective! [IMG4]


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