If you’re running Lion on a portable Mac, you might notice that your hard disk space declines with every passing day, not because you have so many things on your Mac but because Lion is continuously taking local backups.
According to Apple:
“Time Machine keeps local snapshots as space permits.”
That’s all great no? Well not really as my backups have swollen to over 40 GB.
What makes this all worse is the fact that you have no control over this process what so ever! You can not say how long he may keep the backups, how much space he can use and you can’t delete the folder as it is hidden and secured.
Lucky you can delete the folder with a little extra help and you can disable Local “Snapshots” with a simple Terminal command.
As a Lion user you can see how big your backup has become simply by going to “About this Mac” and then click “More Info”. the screen you get looks like this:
This feature sure is handy when you’re abroad and you accidentally deleted a few files and want to put them back.
But on the other hand, the feature also devours space, and I don’t want that (even though I get it back when I need it).
Apparently there’s a folder on your Macintosh HD that hosts all those backups, it’s called “.MobileBackups” which is hidden by default. This folder is only accessible by the system itself.
I tried everything from renaming and deleting the folder with Terminal, but every time I got the warning that I do not have enough privileges to do so.
I looked further and realized I have one app that can delete locked files from my Trash, the app is called CleanMyMac. It also has a function “Quick Erase Files” and I decided to give it a try using a Terminal command I made hidden files visible:
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE; killall Finder
To undo, repeat the same command but change TRUE to FALSE.
I dropped the folder “.MobileBackups” onto the “Quick Erase Files” in CleanMyMac and clicked Erase.
Boom! Suddenly my hard disk space grew from 175 to 225 GB.
If you want to disable snapshots and local backups completely, fire up Terminal, type the following command and your password and they’re disabled!
sudo tmutil disablelocal
If you want the feature back, change disable with enable.
Here is the text that Apple provides us with:
If you have a portable computer, Time Machine keeps a copy of everything on your computer’s internal disk, and saves hourly “snapshots” of files that have changed. Since Time Machine stores the snapshots on your computer’s internal drive, they are called “local snapshots” to distinguish them from backups stored on an external backup drive.
Local snapshots are periodically condensed into daily or weekly snapshots to minimize the space used on your disk. If your internal disk is low on space, Time Machine stops creating new snapshots, and some or all existing snapshots may be removed to make space available for applications to use. If sufficient disk space becomes available again, Time Machine resumes creating local snapshots.
If you want Time Machine to stop saving local snapshots, open Time Machine preferences and slide the switch to Off. Snapshots will resume when you turn Time Machine back on.
Time Machine saves local snapshots on portable computers only, and not on desktop computers.
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