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Old 10-12-2012, 09:51 AM   #1
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Mac and external hard drive

For all those Mac users out there. My dd finally is understanding that she needs to back up her hard drive. I am a pc kind of person, so don't know if you have to buy a certain kind of external hard drive or not? Thinking ahead to black friday and hoping to get a good deal :-) What would you recommend???
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:41 AM   #2
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Which Mac does she have and how old is it? How big is the internal HD?
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:46 AM   #3
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You can use pretty much any external hard drive. Many, if not all of them, come formatted for a very basic Windows disk format, but a quick trip to Disk Utility on the Mac can take care of that.

Depending on the version of the Mac your dd has, the fastest transfer rates of data will be from Thunderbolt > Firewire > USB on the Mac. All Macs sold in the past decade will have USB ports, so that's a safe way to go; just make sure the external hard drive has a USB port on it. Most, if not all, do. Firewire ports are on the more "pro" version laptops, and on the desktop machines. Just verify the available ports on the Mac before buying a Firewire drive. Thunderbolt ports are only on the latest Mac laptops, iMacs, and Mac minis at this point.

Once the external hard drive is formatted to the HFS+ filesystem and plugged in to the Mac, a window should pop up asking if your dd would like to use it for Time Machine backups. This is the easiest way to do backups of the Mac. There is a good primer on it here.

Another way to go is to buy a Time Capsule from Apple. It's an external network hard drive that sits on your network and provides a target for the Time Machine backups. You do not have to plug it in to the Mac to do the backups, which can be nice. It all happens wirelessly. They do tend to be more expensive than a comparatively sized external hard drive, however.

Sorry: I like Seagate external drives, but I'd go with price per GB over brand loyalty at this point, as hard drive manufacturers have consolidated over the years and there is less variation in quality at this point.
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Last edited by DEA; 10-12-2012 at 10:52 AM. Reason: Forgot the recommendation.
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:48 AM   #4
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Apple recommends getting an external hard dive that is twice the size of your internal hard drive. I use a Western Digital 1GB external HD for my Time Machine backup. When this one fails I'll get a 2GB since I have 1GB internal hard drive that is using about 750GB of space.

Once you get it. Plug it in, turn it on connect it and it will ask you if you want that hard drive to be used as the TimeMachine Back UP. YES! Make sure Time Machine is turned on (under System Preferences) It will then take over from there and you wont have to do anything else. Initial back up takes anywhere from 2-8 hours depending on whats on your current hard drive. After that it will automatically back everything up everything new every few hours.
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Old 10-12-2012, 11:41 AM   #5
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Wow, so much information so quickly!

Her Mac is a MacBook Pro bought about 2 years ago (when she dropped her Toshiba from her platform bed and busted it all to H.

I think it has a 500G hard drive. A mutual friend of hers is recommending a 1T external hard drive.

The idea of of the Time Machine would work perfectly since I doubt she would remember to backup her files very frequently. Most of what she is concerned about is her music and pictures. Doesn't seem concerned about her grad work stuff

I'm gonna show this to her when she calls next. Hopefully, one of her geek friends will be able to help her do this!
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:39 PM   #6
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How important are the files she wants to keep? Although external hard drives are good, the limitation is usually its in the same way of danger as the drive that is meant to create a duplicate of.

Think about it, your home gets broken into, both could be gone, or worst a fire/flood, both gone.

I'm a much bigger fan of cloud storage offsite, that's what we use for our HTPC/Media Server at home.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:34 PM   #7
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Good rule of thumb for any backup: "3/2/1"--

3 copies of your data
on at least 2 different types of media
1 of which is offsite
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:41 PM   #8
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Generally any storage device that plugs into your Mac physically will work fine. I'm yet to come across anything that doesn't.
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:07 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 136368 View Post
Generally any storage device that plugs into your Mac physically will work fine. I'm yet to come across anything that doesn't.
i had an issue with an ntfs drive, just would not let me copy files over to it... I later used a fat32 drive and it worked fine so im guessin the mac does not like ntfs format.

Thunderbolt drives are expensive, but it does free up a usb port. and faster too.

i wouldnt suggest a laptop sized external because those crash pretty easily due to its power management. Get one with external power...
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