What to do when mobile Time Machine backups linger and fill storage space

After reading the case of the missing El Capitan hard disk space and following all the advice in that column, Jim Williams still had an inexplicable 300GB that had no reason to exist. He ran a disk analysis program that showed that a hidden Unix directory named .MobileBackups.trash What is it and can he get rid of it?

This is a side effect of Time Machine, of all things. When one of your Time Machine targets is a drive that isn’t currently connected to your Mac, the backup system will continue to generate system snapshots up until all but 20 percent of drive storage is filled. After that point, Time Machine starts to delete snapshots and is more aggressive if you have very little storage available (less than 10 percent of drive capacity or less than 5GB).

mac911 missing time machine backups

Our reader found 300GB occupied inexplicably. 

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How to replace El Capitan's missing Secure Empty Trash

Yves Laurin echoes a concern of many people:

Secure Empty Trash: We lost that option with El Capitan; how could we get it back?

I’ve seen this question come up a number of times since late in the El Capitan public beta cycle, and you can find hundreds of postings about it on Apple’s forums and elsewhere. People have a concern about this option having gone missing, even if they used it as an extra measure of security, rather than ever having had a breach due to not using it.

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The problem with iCloud Photo Library and Family Sharing

Steve Gentile writes in with a question that, in similar language, many readers have. He wants to be able to maintain essentially a family iCloud Photo Library. He upgraded to 200GB of iCloud storage and has about 20GB in his own Photos library. He and his wife both sync to their own iCloud accounts, and they have a Mac with Photos on it as well.

The problem now is that although we want all photos synced to the cloud, we don’t want to have three duplicates of 20GB on each machine. My wife’s iPhone is running low on space. What is the best way to sync our iPhone photos to the cloud but not need to store them all?

Unfortunately, you and many others are running up against an odd limit that continues to plague Apple: while it offers Family Sharing in iCloud, this is mostly about sharing purchases, location, and a group photo album, rather than syncing or sharing data to a common location. The common photo album works just like another iCloud Photo Sharing album, but it’s labeled specially and created automatically. However, you have to add items into it; it doesn’t sync for you.

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Five lessons learned when switching cloud-hosted backups

I’ve been using CrashPlan for several years and have accumulated an enormous archive of files, online and in local storage, using their software. But over time, I’ve had so many troubles keeping CrashPlan running reliably on one of my computers that I was ready to switch that one Mac to a different cloud-storage system.

However, with terabytes archived online and on a local drive, and about 1.3TB of data that I’d ideally like to back up with a new service, that’s easier said than done. If you’re in a similar situation, or even trying to get started with a comprehensive backup plan, these lessons I’ve taken away from the transition will help.

The upfront, before we get into details? If you have a low-rate upstream broadband connection or your ISP caps your monthly usage or charges overage fees, you may not be in a position to swap services without some additional effort, described throughout. If you have 10Mbps or faster upstream and a cap of 300GB or more each month, you’re likely suited to make a switch without too much pain.

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How to access a Mac drive from a Windows or Linux system

Rakesh Shewale writes with a common question about formatting compatibility:

I bought a new external HDD for my mac about a month ago and formatted it to Mac OS X Extended Journaled. Now it has my all data. But the problem is I can’t access this HDD from my PC which has Windows and Linux.

The trouble is that the drive is already formatted—this limits options, but it’s neither expensive nor impossible to proceed. Paragon is a long-time developer of cross-platform Mac/Windows disk mounting software, and its HFS+ for Windows 10 works on Windows releases all the way back to XP and Windows Server 2003 all the way through the present Windows 10 release. It’s $20, but also has a 10-day trial. HFSExplorer for Windows is free and updated for Windows 10, but requires the installation of the Java 5 or later runtime environment (JRE), which can introduce security issues unless you configure it carefully.

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What to do when El Capitan sidebar's favorites disappear

Did you suddenly notice that the items you added to the Finder sidebar are suddenly missing either in the Finder or Open/Save dialogs or both? It’s not you: It’s a bug.

It’s a subtle thing, because nothing fails; rather, it dawns on you that when you’re clicking to navigate to a folder via your sidebar’s Favorites list, there’s nothing there. This happened to me recently, and I discovered it’s a routine problem people are experiencing.

While several solutions have been proposed, including deleting cache files and the like, what appears to work best—and worked for me—is to restart your Mac. When I had my sidebar faves disappear, I also had some other seemingly inexplicable slowdowns and system oddities. These went away with the restart as well.

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