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The average size of 'empty' back-up is 100-200Mb on my machine. By 'empty' I mean that sometimes you log-in into a computer after few hours and see time machine working with a message like 'copying 200Mb in 3 files'.

  1. How can I see which exactly files have been processed in a particular backup? I tried looking into backup directories themselves with bash, but Time Machine seems to mimic full directory structure for each back-up. I.e., I see lots of folders containing other folders, but can't find any files.

  2. What can I do to reduce backup sizes? Obviously, if some background OS process did some routine clean up, there's no big need for it to be saved in Time Machine. I exclude several folders, but only ~/Library/Caches saves some decent amount of space. Which else frequently updated files can I exclude?


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~/Library/Caches is automatically excluded from Time Machine. – mipadi Oct 16 '10 at 0:05
up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. Try BackupLoupe -- it'll show you what folders and files changed in each snapshot.

  2. Depends on what's getting backed up; take a look at what BackupLoupe reports. BTW, your Caches folder should be excluded automatically (along with the trash, logs, and various temp folders).

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Thanks! About 2, I wasn't sure about what's excluded by default, so I just added some directories to the black list myself. – Nikita Rybak Oct 16 '10 at 0:07
Check /System/Library/CoreServices/backupd.bundle/Contents/Resources/StdExclusions.pli‌​st for the ... well, the standard exclusions. – Gordon Davisson Oct 16 '10 at 2:55

I haven't tried BackupLoupe, but you might check out GrandPerspective. It's free and the help files are very good in explaining on how to look at the files and file sizes in your backups.

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