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Mounting Time Machine local snapshots as read-only volumes

February 23, 2019 4 comments

Starting with macOS High Sierra, Time Machine on Apple File System-formatted (APFS) boot drives gained the ability to create APFS snapshots. These snapshots are stored on the boot volume, but are not the same as the local backups that Time Machine uses on HFS+-formatted drives.

On HFS+ formatted drives, Time Machine local backups are stored in an invisible directory named .MobileBackups on the root level of the boot drive.

Screen Shot 2019 02 23 at 10 44 17 AM

In turn, this .MobileBackups directory is mountable as /Volumes/MobileBackups and you can access the backed-up files stored inside by navigating via the command line or Finder window.

Screen Shot 2019 02 23 at 10 59 43 AM

On APFS-formatted drives, the /.MobileBackups directory and /Volumes/MobileBackups are no longer available. Instead, Time Machine is now using APFS snapshots to store a read-only copy of the state of your Mac at the time when that snapshot was taken. These snapshots are invisible to the file system, so unlike HFS+, there isn’t a directory or file you can access. Instead, you now need to use the mount_apfs┬ácommand’s -s option to mount APFS snapshots as read-only volumes.

Screen Shot 2019 02 23 at 11 45 51 AM

For more details, please see below the jump.

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