I am using Time Machine on Mac (with 512GB SSD) to backup my files to a 2TB external drive, but it only worked for 2 days and now it's reporting lack of space to do more backups.

It only did 2 backups, as I can see those 2 dates inside the external drive, inside the backup folder.

Now I've realized that there are 2 "Recovery" folders, each one inside each day's backup folder. Inside there is a large "basesystem.dmg" file, so I'm getting 2 of these.

These are preventing me to do a proper use of Time Machine (and honestly I dont remember TM creating these Recovery folders, for each backup?

Is it safe to delete the Recovery folders from my time machine backup? What will I lose? If it's the ability to recover from a TM backup, is it necessary? Can I recover from my Mac's own recovery partition and then recover the data on the TM backup instead?

Thank you.

  • I too have noticed the same thing but have multiple recovery and HD directories in the tm backup. apple.stackexchange.com/questions/396694/… Apple said they have never seen this before and I checked my wife's backups, she on the latest Catalina and mbp and she does not have these folders.... – Stumped Jul 29 '20 at 15:42

You wrote, "I dont remember TM creating these Recovery folders, for each backup?"

I also have anew iMac, with the 512 SSD, 21.5" running Catalina OS 10.15.3 and I too now have ONE (1) Recovery Folder for EACH TM backup. I have a total of three folders for each backup:

  • Macintosh HD
  • Macintosh HD - Data
  • Recovery

My understanding from talking with Apple Support today (2/8/20 on this issue) is that the: * - Macintosh HD is for the system, * - Macintosh HD - Data is for data * - Recovery is for the Recovery Partition as it refers to the basesystem.

My Recovery Folder is 526.6 MB and has 34 items in it.

I was told this is normal for a Time Machine running Catalina.

I tested this on another iMac running Catalina and it too has a Recovery folder in the TM user backup which is also 526.6 MB and has 34 items in it.

EDITED for clarity 2/8/20 PM

  • Thanks for the input. I don’t mind having 1 recovery backup, but 2... or even more seems too much. It must be Catalina as you said. – BMM Feb 8 '20 at 20:08
  • Found this useful info: eclecticlight.co/2019/11/14/… – BMM Feb 8 '20 at 20:26

You might, if you have other backups, try erasing the hard drive the Time Machine software is on completely and then setting up your Time Machine again. This solved an issue I had with TM that had backup folders that had peculiar contents in them since I last wrote.

I have since learned to be sure I am dedicating an external HD as a TM to one specific computer.

  • I'm out of other fixes and I can't seem to find evidence of this happening on the large, so I'll do it and tell how it behaved in a few days. And yes, this external drive is an exclusive TM drive of my only macbook. Thanks. – BMM Feb 23 '20 at 11:58

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