APFS no longer allows resizing partitions?

(Simon) #1

So I have this MBP running HS with an internal 1TB SSD formatted as APFS but only about 170 GB used. I wanted to clone it to an old external drive with several partitions, one of them is 220 GB and blank. Rebooted into recovery mode and using DiskUtility from there I thought I could clone the 170 GB data to the 220 GB blank partition. But that won’t work because the data is on a 1TB partition.

I recalled that there was some issue with block copies only working when the target partition is larger than the source partition. I then also remembered that back in the HFS+ days you could resize a partition. DiskUtility would somehow do this in a non-destructuve way by moving all the data to one continuous section first and then reduce the partition housing that data. So I figured that all I needed to do to get this to work is resize the MBP’s partition to ~180GB (i.e. enough to hold the data) and then that partition could be cloned to the 220 GB partition left on the external drive. Finally, I’d resize the partition again back to its original 1 TB.

But now that this MBP’s SSD is running APFS there does not appear to be any way to live resize the partition. Did I just not find it in DiskUtility or does that actually really no longer work? Any other ideas how to convince DiskUtility to close these 170 GB of data from the APFS volume to the 220 GB external partition?

If indeed none of that works anymore, I’ll probably just buy a larger backup drive. I’m not buying any third-party cloning software.

(Joseph) #2

Seems strange to me as it would likely fix your problem. Do you mind saying why? Just curious.

(James R Cutler) #3

I have been using Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) since October 2013. I figure that my average cost for the product is about 3.5 cents per day since then assuming I paid full list for each version. If I had paid the full price for Version 5 last August, the daily cost just for that till today is about 13 cents per day. So, even if my time is not very valuable, there is no economic argument for not using CCC or another equally good 3rd party product.

From a technical and user interface view:

  • The complexity of a complete clone of either an HFS+ or APFS drive including the recovery partitions and the like is beyond the capability of Disk Utility.
  • There is no easy way to script Recovery Partition operations. Every step in the cloning process must be designed, created, and executed manually by the user – an error prone process at best. And no record is kept of errors, except by your pencil.
  • Tasks record the source, destination, and copy type for easy re-use.
  • Multiple Tasks may be chained.
  • Errors are part of Task History and can be easily reviewed.
  • Carbon Copy Cloner does all this drudgery in an intelligent fashion, including APFS to
  • APFS, APFS to HFS+, HFS+ to APFS, and HFS+ to HFS+. Updating an HFS+ boot volume recovery partition is about the only manual button push required.

So, “not buying any third-party cloning software.” does not make any economic sense, cost you precious time, and is much akin the the proverbial use of combat boots on one’s body.

I did not describe SuperDuper!, but most reports say the current version compares fairly well with Carbon Copy Cloner. I have no recent experience to support or dispute these reports.

(Fritz Mills) #4

I’ve am a registered user of both Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper! and have used them both and they are both terrific in my opinion. Recently I have gravitated to using Carbon Copy Cloner because it updates the Recovery Volume on clones, which SuperDuper doesn’t do (or ft it does, I don” t know — it’s never offered to do it for me) When I updated to High Sierra I wanted the ability to restore to an internal SSD without updating to APFS. TBH, I have no problem with changing to APFS, except that it breaks Disk Warrior (and all the other third-party disk utilities), which is something I’d rather not do until they get fixed.

(Simon) #5

So after searching the web for a solution I came across a web page that basically points out that resizing still works on APFS, but for some reason it’s not available through the DiskUtility GUI so resizing has to be done form the shell.

Not a problem I thought. Turns out though, I could not resize the APFS volume because of an error message

There is not enough free space in the APFS Container for this operation due to APFS limits or APFS tidemarks (perhaps caused by APFS Snapshot usage by Time Machine)

apparently related to Time Machine snapshots taking up space. I found another page with details on how to delete those so the volume can be resized.

Only issue now is, I’m not really sure I want to delete those. I actually don’t understand why they’re there in the first place. This MBP has been hooked up to a TM backup disk and been happily backing up for basically forever. Why would those local snapshots still be on disk? Is this an indication of a TM issue?

(frederico) #6

I love how no one on this thread even attempted to answer your question, but were all more than happy to lecture you on the value of third party utilities you clearly stated you would not purchase.

Anyway, as to yo your new question, yes, you should be able to safely delete your local TM backups; they should only be created when your designated TM volume is unavailable; then the locals should be copied externally; but the locals aren’t deleted, and are instead treated as purgeable cache.

That said, it’s worth Entering Time Machine to make sure your local index is also reflected in your external TC. Use Option-click on the TM Menubar item to choose which disk to explore.

Somewhere I once read a note on how to force-merge locals to externals, should you decide it necessary; worse case you can use ditto utility from the command line to save it to a separate volume or disk image.

Congrats, BTW, for doing a great job of answering your own original question.

(Simon) #7

Hehe, yeah. Noticed that too. Oh well, can’t always win. :wink:

Thanks, that’s great to know. I have no reason to assume TM isn’t working (the excellent TimeTracker tells me that large amounts of stuff I actually do touch are being copied over), but I realize it makes sense to check before deleting snapshots.

This has always been one of my difficulties with TM. I lack a real ‘test protocol’. Sure I can go check if something I was working on three days ago is there and maybe I’ll even remember some big things I changed a year ago and go check that. But that’s just sporadic and off the top of my head. Who knows if TM got that, but happened to miss a bunch of other stuff I just happened to forget. It’s far from a systematic check of TM backup performance.

(Adam Engst) #8

I suspect no one knew the answer—I certainly didn’t! :slight_smile:

(frederico) #9

Yes, backup validation has always, always, always been a problem. There are Mac utilities that do sum-check, which can give you reasonable confidence your backup data is retrievable, but there is no substitute for actually restoring from backup to make sure.

Now, that said [ahem], the wonderful Carbon Copy Cloner has a built-in option to ‘find and replace corrupted files’, which is actually about as good as you can get without actually rewriting the file back to main disk and testing it manually. It does a disk to memory-write and checksum, and most small to medium IT managers find it acceptable (along with multiple backups to different destinations and locations). Only heavily-budgeted IT departments can afford to truly test data restoration.

As to Time Machine, and wondering if it’s getting everything, you can use the command line utility to auto-generate a summary of latest/oldest snapshots, as well as a summary of errors; one can also include a list of completed backup sessions by date; you can then use something like GeekTool to display a summary report on your Desktop for easy reminders. It can be adapted to display summary information for multiple TM volumes, including local disk, if you desire.

I use variations to monitor machines I’m responsible for, and have the summary status for CCC clones and TM backups appear for each machine in a dashboard, and present colored status flags so at a glance, I can see if something requires attention. Before High Sierra killed POSTFIX with TLS errors, it also sent email alerts for critical errors (something I’ve got to find time to resolve).

(Joseph) #10

I don’t own one either, but I’m still curious why it’s not an option for you, if you’re willing to answer. Is there some downside I’m not aware of, besides it requiring money?

(frederico) #11

I’ll just chime in that, in addition to costs, many, many, many people find Clones to be too geeky and intimidating; additionally, the data they store may simply not require deep backups and the ability to do a bit restore either isn’t valuable enough or simply hasn’t occurred to them.

Many people are entirely content with just reinstalling the OS and the few apps they use when the overall configuration is not terribly complex; they may already use cloud backup/storage in the first place, and, despite being confident in that, they do enjoy the ease of referring back to older and very old versions of documents via Time Machine. My brother is such a person; he continually uses TM (and Versions) to go back to earlier starting points of several “living documents”. Templates don’t really work for this; he likes to just push back through older versions until it looks like a good place to start again; sometimes he grabs portions of different versions of the same doc.

(since I’m his IT guy, he gets Clones anyway, he just never pays attention to any of it and only calls when TM isn’t giving him what he wants.)

Anyway, Clones are fabulous, but still a bit too un-Apple-like for the average user. If Bombich or the Super Duper guys ever pushed their bone-simple interface in advertising (and improved it somewhat for basic scheduling instead of just one-offs), they could adopt more users.

(Simon) #12

I’m surprised to read this. I always thought Apple made cloning about as super easy as you can. In fact, I always wondered why so many seemed to think you needed to buy some 3rd-party software to do something as basic as cloning when in fact it was built straight into every version of OS X / macOS.

I wonder if Apple should advertise the feature more or make it easier to discover (take it out of DU and make it a separate stand-alone app?). They could probably make it even more user-friendly (like auto-resize partitions, reminders, etc.), but overall if you just want to clone one install onto another disk, it’s a super simple and reliable tool that doesn’t take much time either (assuming you have an SSD and are using a fast bus to your external drive). It is already basically a one-click process. Not a whole lot more you can do.

If you need fancy stuff like incrementals, selective cloning, scheduling or such, there’s always rsync, ditto, et al. But for basic cloning I always resort to the simple but reliable tool included for free with every macOS install. Best of all, it’s part of recovery mode so even if everything else appears hosed, you can still use it.

(frederico) #13

You used the words, Disk Utility, followed by ditto and rsync. 90% of Mac owners eyes glazed over just at Disk Utility. Most of those are intimidated by even setting up a Time Machine without considerable prompting from peers or an Apple salesperson, and now that Time capsules are dead, even that’s unlikely to happen.

My comments are directed towards the ‘it just needs to work’ crowd, who really don’t use the computer past Safari, Mail, Photos, and maybe Pages and Numbers. They’re not even going to know Disk Utility exists unless directed by someone to find it; they’re certainly unlikely to even know what a clone is, let alone how to make one (though I agree, that should the need arise, a simple one-off clone is fairly easy); and as for incremental backups using Terminal, again, where I was directing my comments, you’ve entered the 99th percentile.

Remember, we are fast entering (if not already surpassed) the era when most Mac owners are iOS users first. They have never tinkered, nor do they want to. I’m not saying they are incapable; they simply don’t want to be bothered. Again, if CCC were as simplistic as Time Machine, they might use it, if someone convinces them of the need.

(Simon) #14

I agree with you. Cloning is already beyond what probably most users know how to do.

But to those who do clone, I find it hard to imagine that there’s anything easier than DiskUtility’s process. You chose a destination disk and select which volume to clone from, then it’s one click. Done.

But as I indicated above, maybe it would become more accessible to regular users if it were its own little app, possibly promoted in some way, maybe even by TM itself. My guess is Apple thinks (at least for consumers) TM is the one and only way to go and as such cloning will remain a hidden gem within DU. My personal opinion is that as long as TM remains non-bootable, it’s not the only tool I’ll rely on. Add to that, that it’s probably always a good idea to rely on more than just one single tool or method. You never know.

Third-party commercial utilities are neither more accessible to regular consumers nor do they make the process any easier than DU already does. They are in fact more complicated because they offer more customization. In essence, they offer a GUI for functionality power-users would probably attempt to BYO with built-in tools like ditto and cron.

(frederico) #15

I used ditto, etc. and the cli in my earliest *nix days and for the first few versions of OS X; I was extremely comfortable in a terminal and like most admins, had rolled my own scripts and traded with others; iOW, I consider myself and most professional admins I know at a minimum, a power user. And when CCC first came on the scene, as raw as it was then, I was thrilled to use it instead. It really is that good, and keeps getting better. Oh, and it offers a cli in addition to the GUI for different kinds of power users.

If all you need is a one off, DU is as good as you say; if you want easy-peasy pruning, version archiving, partial sets, destination control, incrementals, scheduling, verification, purging, quota controls, notification, prompts, logs, preflight and post flight activity, task stacking, and a dozen other options and tools, as a poster above said, unless you have nothing but time on your hands and enjoy dinking around with picky techie tasks, CCC is a heaven sent cost saver that is worth (to myself and other admins) ten times it’s cost.

I disagree that they make things too complicated; indeed, if you need just a one or two things past manual one-offs in DU, they make any single additional task or option super simple. CCC’s interface, even in advanced mode, hides well what most users don’t need. As I said before, they could still do better, of course, for the technically averse.

And yes, multiple backups and approaches are absolutely advised; TM offers huge advantages cloning doesn’t, and vice versa; cloud options offer others, apart from offsite assurances. APFS is just making all options even better.



(Doug Hogg) #16

I am a big Carbon Copy Cloner fan.

  • CCC re-creates the recovery partition on the clone, moving files if necessary.

  • For my wife, I have CCC cloning to two disk images which it then ejects so she can’t accidentally save files to a clone.

  • For my in-laws, CCC has saved cloning tasks for a traveling clone and clones of image archives in California and Toronto, and CCC keeps a clear record of what clones to what.

I also set up users with Super Duper which has easy scheduling and is very economical — I don’t remember paying for upgrades.

Would I like to know what “Ditto” does and how to use RSync and Cron (thought it was deprecated), sure, but I would not enjoy trying to explain them to someone else.


Doug Hogg