How to Free Up Space on your Mac by Deleting Old Backups

Apple’s macOS and Time Machine make it so easy for users to save and restore all of their data in case something bad happens. However, these backups tend to take up lots of space on your Mac, if you don’t use any external hard drive. No worries, as we are here to help. Here is how to free up space on your Mac by deleting old backups.

Why You Should Delete Old Backups on Your Mac?

Basically, Time Machine lets you restore files from local snapshots on your Mac even when your Time Machine backup disk isn’t available. So, in case you don’t use any external hard drive, this backup mechanism of macOS also stores some of its backups directly on your Mac. 

Local snapshots are created automatically after you finish setting up Time Machine on your Mac. And, one daily snapshot is created every 24 hours when you start the Mac. Besides that, Time Machine also stores weekly snapshots on your internal hard drive until your Mac starts to run out of storage. 

So, if you’ve been backing up your Mac using Time Machine for a long time, then you could potentially end up with around 100GB of backups stored in your internal hard drive. Note that Time Machine will automatically delete the oldest snapshot backups whenever your internal hard drive has less than 20% of storage space. 

Additionally, if you have less than 5GB of internal storage, Time Machine will only keep the most recent bạckups to save up space for future downloads or updates. After that, it will continue to replace the old snapshots with new ones until you free up space on your Mac’s internal storage. However, things don’t always turn out the way we want them to. So, here is how to free space on your Mac by deleting old backups.

How to Delete Old Backups on Your Mac

How to free up space on Mac

In case you are desperate for more space, you can use a Terminal command to disable Time Machine and delete those snapshots. Doing this will delete all of the local snapshots on your internal hard drive. Also, it will automatically stop Time Machine from creating new snapshots.

Follow these steps to temporarily turn off Time Machine and remove local snapshots from your internal storage:

  1. From the Time Machine menu in the menu bar, open “Time Machine Preferences”. Or, go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Time Machine
  2. Next, uncheck ”Back Up Automatically” or click on the on/off switch.
  3. Wait a few minutes to allow the local snapshots to be deleted. 
  4. Then, turn on Time Machine again.

Note: Remember that you cannot recover the data from deleted old backups. So, be cautious before starting to delete anything. We recommend you follow this method when you really need more space on your Mac or M1 Mac.

Do you have any questions about deleting old backups or other methods to free up space on your Mac? Just let us know in the comments!

Related article: Top 5 Mac Time Machine Alternatives

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