What happens when the Time Machine drive is full?

I'm on my second iMac. My first one (G5, 1984) died, and I replaced it early 2010 with an Intel mac. The transition when exceedingly well largely due to Time Machine. I just hooked the Time Machine drive to the new system, and I was soon back up running!
My home folder has 70GB of data. The Macintosh drive has 105GB of data and 395GB free. The Time Machine drive has 220GB used and 30GB free.
1. What happens when the Time Machine drive is full?
2. Do I have control over what backups get deleted?
3. If lightning strikes twice, will I still be able to restore my Intel mac like my G5 mac, even if backups get deleted?
4. Is there anyway to control what backups/backup files get deleted?
5. Any other thoughts?
Thanks.

maxseven wrote:
i have deleted the time machine folders and they are now in my trash. when i try to secure empty my trash it will delete everything but the t/m folders. how do i delete them?
Do you mean all of them? The entire Backups.backupdb folder?
That's a large mess. First, even a normal delete will take a very long time, as there are probably hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of files. Your best bet by far is to simply erase them with Disk Utility -- that will only take a few moments. If your TM drive has a single partition, see #1 in [Formatting, Partitioning, Verifying, and Repairing Disks|http://web.me.com/pondini/AppleTips/DU.html]. If there are other partition(s) on the drive, see #2 there.
If not, and you only deleted some of the folders, you have a different, worse problem. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't do a very good job of warning folks: +*Never move, change, or delete anything in your backups via the Finder or Terminal.+*
You shouldn't have to delete backups at all, since Time Machine will do that automatically when the disk/partition gets full. But you can do it without harm via Time Machine. See #12 in [Time Machine - Frequently Asked Questions|http://web.me.com/pondini/Time_Machine/FAQ.html] (or use the link in *User Tips* at the top of this forum).
A normal delete will take a very long time, as there are probably tens or hundreds of thousands of items, each of which must be individually deleted. A secure delete will take much, much longer, as each deleted file must be overwritten with zeros.

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