When Time Machine runs out of space

When I upgraded to Leopard, I was excited to use Time Machine and finally have a way of backing up my important files. I did not have an extremely large backup drive, however, so I was forced to backup to a 40GB drive from my old iBook that I put inside a FireWire enclosure. Naturally this would not fit all the data on my 80GB MacBook, so I excluded some folders and began the backup process.

Fast forward almost 4 months, and I am still using that 40GB drive to back up my important data. One day when Time Machine started the backup process, I was given this dialog box.

Time Machine had finally filled the entire 40GB drive and was now presenting me with an option to get a larger drive or begin to delete backups. Naturally I chose the latter, and now I have a fully functioning backup that goes back about 3 months.

With the release of OS X 10.5.2, there is now an additional menu item with more Time Machine options. During the sync process, the Time Machine menubar item spins backward like a clock, and when the backup drive is full, it contains a caution sign.

To combat this space consumption, there is a hint available on MacOSXHints.com that gives the perfect solution.

If you think Time Machine backs up too often (or not often enough) for your liking, navigate into /System » Library » LaunchDaemons. There you’ll find a file named com.apple.backupd-auto.plist. Open it in your favorite text editor, and look for this section:


Change the 3600 number to some other time interval in seconds, and you’ll have changed Time Machine’s backup interval.

I changed mine to 7200 (2 hours).

Follow this hint, and Time Machine will continue to provide you the optimal balance between backup redundancy and space usage.
[tags]Mac OS X, hard drive, Time Machine, MacBook, Leopard[/tags]

2 comments on “When Time Machine runs out of space
  1. Jared says:

    I now use time machine because of this. Awesome. Thanks wes.

  2. scoop says:

    Great tip — thanks very much! I was getting bogged down with backups; glad to have a little more control over the process.