Time Machine hand-holding: How do you say goodbye to data?

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Erica Sadun
July 23rd, 2011
In this article: Backups, Time Machine, TimeMachine
Time Machine hand-holding: How do you say goodbye to data?

I've been good this past year. Very good. I have rigorously adhered to the TiNo philosophy, which states that so long as your TiVo, EyeTV, or other recording device has captured a program, it is your prerogative to delete that program whenever you feel like it. Whether you watched it or not.

It's truly liberating. If there's something I'm supposed to watch, I go ahead and record it. Bits are cheap. Time is not.

And then, a week or a month later, I allow myself to say: "I really don't plan on watching this." I delete it from my recordings folder.

My karma and my TV backlog are cleansed.

It was working great until today.

Today, I decided to free up some space off my secondary Time Machine drive. I suddenly noticed that even though I had let go of many dozens of recordings, that my Time Machine backup had not.

A simple command line request showed me recording after recording after recording that my EyeTV had meticulously backed up for me and that Time Machine had lovingly saved even as I deleted them from my media drive. Thank you, Time Machine?

Backup files are stored in Time Machine in the Backups.backupdb folder using the same folder structure as the drive it's saving. Here's the command I used to open up my recording folders. The wildcard * matches each of the backup dates.

% open /Volumes/Backed/Backups.backupdb/Banana/*/TV

Suddenly, there was "V" again, and Glee, and Rubicon, and the Gates for crying out loud. Remember the Gates? It's the one with the cat from Chloe and the jock from Wolf. It was like going out walking and finding silver dollar after silver dollar on the ground.

How am I supposed to get work done with all this old TV waiting to be watched?

In the end, I'm postponing that drive cleanup. I'm giving myself a week. I haven't watched this stuff in months, in years. If a week goes by and I can still live without watching it all, it's getting re-TiNo'ed for good.

It's hard to say goodbye to data, but it's liberating all the same.

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