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TomBB 05-11-2007 08:09 PM

How to prevent Spotlight from Indexing Backup Drives?
Recently purchased an external drive and Super Duper, and am perplexed on how to prevent Spotlight from indexing my imaged drives on the external HD. I have gone to spotlight preferences, but when I drag the Ext drive images to the drop field, they are not added, nor when I use the + sign to add them.

Anyone found a solution to this issue?
Thanks all you gurus and people with opinions!

dnanian 05-11-2007 10:56 PM

Try erasing the drive with Disk Utility, then restart your Mac. Once restarted, see if it goes int the Privacy tab...

TomBB 05-12-2007 11:32 PM

Thanks Dave, that worked!
I also found out how to then force spotlight to reindex my main HD via the terminal. Really pretty easy to do if others want to reindex, even for a novice--just make sure to do it from an administrator account, not a standard user account.

dnanian 05-13-2007 09:05 AM

(For those who don't know, it's


sudo mdutil -E -p "/Volumes/the-volume-you-want-to-index"

t3rockhall 05-17-2007 11:18 AM

Should I care if Spotlight re-indexes my backup drive (it is doing this)?
If not, should I let the re-indexing complete before I backup?
How about when I use my backup drive to bring my vacation home Mac up-to-date?

dnanian 05-17-2007 11:25 AM

I'd certainly add the backup into Privacy. Not quite sure what you mean about your vacation Mac -- you mean Spotlight?

t3rockhall 05-17-2007 11:34 AM


Originally Posted by dnanian (Post 12186)
I'd certainly add the backup into Privacy. Not quite sure what you mean about your vacation Mac -- you mean Spotlight?

I have 2 iMacs in 2 houses. I backup my main machine into an external HD, using SD. When I go to my vacation home's iMac, I boot from the external and "back up" so to speak, to the iMac there, in effect, bringing both iMacs and the external to the identical state at that moment. Then I run from the iMac and shut off the external.

When I'm ready to return home, I back up the vacation iMac that I've been using, to the external, and then copy IT back into the main iMac upon my return.

I guess I don't understand "Privacy." I'll have to look into that.
OK, I found it. I dragged the external into the window, and I suppose that's that.

dnanian 05-17-2007 11:47 AM

Yep, that's that!

Khuzud 05-24-2007 03:06 PM

For me, it's not that. Spotlight keeps reindexing my backup drive, and it's really annoying.

It doesn't happen all the time. Maybe once out of every five backups. I plug the drive in, turn it on, and then it starts grinding away as Spotlight tries to create its index.

I have to turn it off, otherwise the backup will take forever if I try to backup to that drive while Spotlight is indexing it. I have no problem adding the drive to Spotlight's privacy list, and as soon as I do that it immediately stops indexing, and I can proceed with my backup.

But I have to keep doing that, over and over. Spotlight seems to occasionally forget that I don't want it to index this drive. Why?

dnanian 05-24-2007 03:32 PM

I don't know, Khuzud: it could be a bug in Spotlight. Are you running OSX 10.4.3 or later?

Khuzud 05-24-2007 05:05 PM

Yes, this is OS X 10.4.9, running on a 15" Powerbook G4. I'm backing up to a drive over USB2.

dnanian 05-24-2007 05:10 PM

Unless there was some kind of error, I can't think of any reason, under 10.4.9, why your Spotlight "privacy" state wasn't retained over a restart or unplug/plug.

SeaSwift 05-25-2007 08:57 PM

I just updated my backup drive to find Spotlight indexing the drive even when I had it in the Privacy tab, it's not listed there anymore and I couldn't add it. Looking around the net I found Spotlight tips I haven't tried it yet but I will the next time I create a backup.

Khuzud 06-11-2007 06:22 PM

Thanks for the pointer to that website. Using the information there I think I've fixed my Spotlight problem.

I created a shell script with the line:


defaults write /Volumes/Backup/.Spotlight-V100/_IndexPolicy Policy -int 3
Then I set SuperDuper to run that script after completing the backup, using the advanced options.

I haven't had a problem with Spotlight indexing my backup drive since then.

forty2 06-12-2007 03:27 PM

Spotlight always forgets the "Privacy" setting after awhile.

What I do is set up the backup to run later, then unmount the external drive from the Finder but leave it attached. SD seems to be smart enough to mount a dismounted drive. When the backup is finished it should unmount the drive. At least that's how I do it... seems to work.

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