Mac's Time Machine and Symlinks

I use Mac OSX’s built-in Time Machine for backups, and a couple of times I’ve noticed my backups failed and couldn’t be completed successfully. I was unable to fix the problem until I reformatted the backup drive. Today I think I stumbled on the solution.

Time Machine

The problem seems to come from swapping a directory and a symlink to it. I had a set of directories with symlinks back and forth, and sometimes I moved the directory to where the symlink was and made a symlink to it from where it used to be. That seems to confuse Time Machine mightily.

Just removing both the symlink and the directory seems to “fix” it. Well… maybe it’s not a fix, but it’s better than the nuclear option of reformatting the backup drive.

Hope this helps someone.

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I'm Baron Schwartz, the founder and CEO of VividCortex. I am the author of High Performance MySQL and lots of open-source software for performance analysis, monitoring, and system administration. I contribute to various database communities such as Oracle, PostgreSQL, Redis and MongoDB. More about me.