Backing up and restoring Finder's Trash

This documentation is for an older version of CCC. You can find the latest version here.
Last updated on March 22, 2019

Backing up Trash content

CCC will not back up the contents of Finder's Trash by default, but CCC 5 offers an option to back up the Finder's Trash in the Task Filter window. Choose Copy Some Files from the popup menu underneath the Source selector to reveal CCC's Task Filter window.

The Trash is not a simple folder, it's a complex mechanism that aggregates Trash folders from multiple volumes and user home folders on the startup disk; it behaves quite unlike other folders. When you back up the contents of the Trash, those items are copied to the Trash folder on the destination, and may reside in "the Trash" as viewed in the Finder. If you subsequently empty the Trash, that will delete the Trash on the backup disk if it is mounted when you empty the Trash. If you choose the option to back up the Finder Trash, we recommend that you unmount and detach your backup disk before emptying the Trash if you wish to retain the Trash on the backup disk.

Restoring Trash content

If you eject your backup disk and detach it from your Mac, and then you empty the Trash, you can simply reattach the backup disk to your Mac and the Trash will again appear to be filled. You can simply drag items out of the Trash to recover those items.

The Trash is a little bit more complicated than that

For external data-only volumes, the Trash behaves in the fairly straightforward manner previously described. For your startup disk, though, it's not quite that simple. There is more than one Trash folder on the startup disk, e.g. there is a Trash folder in each user's home folder. When you move an item (that you are the owner of) on your startup disk to the Trash, that item is placed in your home folder's Trash, not in the volume's trash folder. It still appears in "the Trash", but its location is important with regard to the backup. Suppose you do the following:

  1. Move an item from your Desktop to the Trash
  2. Run a backup
  3. Detach your backup disk
  4. Empty the Trash
  5. Reattach your backup disk

Result: That item is not in the Trash! The file is actually in a Trash folder on the backup disk, but the Finder doesn't show you items in the home folder trash folders on external volumes. In this scenario, you can boot from your backup volume to recover the item, because once booted from the backup volume, that item will appear in the Trash.

You can also recover an item from a user home folder Trash folder on the backup volume using the procedure described here: Restoring an item from a hidden folder. The hidden Trash folder is located at /Users/{yourname}/.Trash.