Time machine disk not deleting old files

Howdy- I’m backing up a 2019 iMac, with 1TB SSD of which only 535gb is currently used. I’m backing up to a 2TB WD MyPassport external drive. After only 3-4 weeks use, I’m getting Time Machine error message that the disk is full and cannot backup (and in checking TM prefs, it shows only 105gb of 2TB available).

Any thoughts as to why TM is not deleting older files to make room as its supposed to? Using 10.15.2 OS.

I’ve had this happen with two drives lately, since the upgrade to Catalina, and ended up having to wipe them. Both were 2TB.
The other weird thing was one of them was showing only 1 day back up. Fortunately for me I had 3 TM drives backing up so still had most of my history on another (plus backblaze).

Found no other solution. Sorry it’s not really any help!

FWIW I’ve seen this running Mojave too. It’s frustrating because obviously Time Machine will eventually fill up a disk and is supposed to auto-magically delete older files when necessary, but it doesn’t always. However, since Apple expects it to “just work” there’s no way that I know of to say “Hey, Time Machine, delete some space to make this new backup fit!”

This is one reason why I use two Time Machine backups (one local, one to Time Capsule) because I figure they’ll both eventually choke, but hopefully at different times, so I can at least have one to call on if needed.

(Time Machine / Time Capsule strikes me as one of those things that should be a huge “killer feature” for Apple, but I don’t think they’ve really make any significant improvements on it since approximately 2010.)

Here’s something you can try (assuming you have a good backup somewhere else):

  • Enter Time Machine
  • Go back to an old backup, or the oldest if you want.
  • Click the v by the gear icon in the toolbar
  • Choose Delete Backup
    The Delete Backup selection doesn’t appear on all backups, so you might have to move forward or backward in time to see it.

Thanks all… I also have had this happen under Mojave. TM seems to be one of those great Apple processes that “just works,” but doesn’t quite make the mark (at least there seems to be something going on for some).

That said, in looking at backups, I see it is quite odd, in that there are NO old backups available in TM before 12/24. As I have various other backups (Superduper, Backblaze), I decided to start over. Also, I reformatted the backup disk as APFS this time- no idea if that will make a difference…

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Just as an abundance of precaution, as far as I know, TimeMachine still doesn’t support APFS on a TM drive. It may have reformatted it as HFS+, but you might want to check.

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