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I use an external hard disk for backup of my mac with time machine (OS 10.5.8).

I have made something wrong and I have found important folders in the recycler bin. These folders come from external hd. They are backup folders (backups.backupdb) and others.

I have tried to restore them draggin and dropping. Some of them came back in the external hd in a while. For the others it takes hours to "preparing to copy" and then it has said "there's no space to copy" on ext hd.

It's strange. Files are now in the recycle bin (180gb), and the ext had should have lot of free space. But it isn't really so. Ext hd is not free of space even if these files are in the bin.

I ask for advices. I'm not also able to use time machine now (and i have "lost" old backups) for the same reason. Ext hd says that it has not free space..


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You 100% sure the files are actually not already on the hdd? – Ramhound Apr 11 '12 at 16:36

When you put files into the trash they are actually just moved into a hidden folder called .Trashes or similar on the root level volume where the files once were stored (/Volumes/name-of-time-machine-volume/.Trashes). They are still in the filesystem and take up the same amount of space on the filesystem as before.

Further Time Machine works with hard links, meaning every backup is a complete backup but files that didn't change are just hard links the corresponding file in the former backup. No space gets freed when you delete (delete as in "Move to Trash" + "Empty Trash") the source of a hardlink.

Perhaps the Finder performs an additional check whether there is enough free space to restore the files from Trash and that check does not take into account the characteristics of hard links. If thats the case you could try a possible workaround: Instead of drag and drop, try to open the Trash, right click on a folder and select "put files back". Alternatively move the files via terminal.

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