Restoring individual Backup files

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Reader Daniel Reese is having some difficulty restoring files backed up with Apple’s Backup 3. He writes (in part):

[When I restore individual files] many of the files are empty. That is, they exhibit the correct icon according to the program in which they were created but the file information reveals zero Kb for the file size. Alternatively, some files (particularly pdf files) say that they are, e.g., 104Kb in size but are blank when opened—nothing on the page.

I have tried dragging the corresponding files from later Incremental backups on the backup drive to the internal drive. But again, even though a directory may exist in which a file should reside, either it is not there or if the file icon is present the file is empty.

The short answer is that Backup 3 has some problems restoring individual files. Thankfully, there’s a workaround.

That workaround is to Control-click the backup file (the full backup if that’s where the files you want reside or an incremental backup if the files were added after the full backup), select Show Package Contents, and mount the Backup.sparseimage file within. You’ll find this file by opening the Contents folder that appears at the root level of the package and then the Contents folder within the original Contents folder.

Double-click the Backup.sparseimage file to mount it as a removable volume. Open that volume and you’ll find folders that contain your backed up items. Dig down into these folders until you find the items you want to restore. Drag them to the Desktop or a location of your choosing and you’re good to go.

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