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Time Machine: How to transfer backups from the current backup drive to a new backup drive

If you want to switch to a different TIme Machine backup drive, use this article to learn how to transfer your existing Time Machine backups to the new backup drive, and then use it for regular Time Machine backups.

To have the existing Time Machine backups on the new backup drive, follow these steps:

  1. Connect the new backup drive to your Mac.
  2. Open Disk Utility (located in the Utilities folder).
  3. In Disk Utility, select the new drive's icon, then make sure it has a GUID partition, and is formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled), which you can check on the "Format:" line at the bottom of the window.
  4. If it is not formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled), reformat the drive as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) with a GUID partition. If you do not know how, see the steps in this article.
    Note:
    Back up any important data on the drive before you format it.
  5. Open a new Finder window. In the Finder sidebar, click the icon of the new backup drive and choose Get Info from the File menu or press Command-I (⌘-I)
  6. Make sure "Ignore ownership on this volume" at the bottom of the "Sharing & Permissions:" section is not checked.
  7. Open the Time Machine pane in System Preferences. Choose Time Machine > Open Time Machine Preferences…
  8. Slide the Time Machine switch to Off.
  9. Open a new Finder window. In the Finder sidebar, click the icon of the current backup drive.
  10. Open a new Finder window. In the Finder sidebar, click the icon of the new backup drive.
  11. Drag the folder "Backups.backupdb" on the current backup drive to the root level of the new backup drive.
    Note: If the drive is formatted as Mac OS Extended but without journaling, OS X may state that "the volume has the wrong case sensitivity" to be used as a back up disk.
  12. Enter an administrator name and password, then click OK to start the copying process.  This may take some time to complete because all the backups will be copied.
  13. After the copy has completed, open Time Machine preferences and click "Select Disk…".
  14. Select the new backup drive, then click "Use Backup Disk".
Last Modified: May 28, 2013
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  • Last Modified: May 28, 2013
  • Article: HT5096
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