external hard drive primer

Discussion in 'Mac Guides' started by furcalchick, May 23, 2007.

  1. macrumors 68020


    Dec 19, 2006
    South Florida
    it looks like alot of people are having a bunch of questions about external hard drives, how to boot them and partitioning, myself included, as the process isn't simple for those wanting to make fresh os x installs, etc. can a page be made with that?
  2. macrumors newbie


    Jul 16, 2007
    Great idea!

    I am using iPartition 1.5 and iDefrag 1.6 but not very satisfied with these tools. Some discussion from experienced users would be inded very useful.

  3. macrumors 6502


    Apr 30, 2005
    Could you be more specific about the questions (or provide links to the questions)? It may help people know what kind of information is required.
  4. macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2007
    general external drive questions


    I have an external drive already and have set up an old G4 (AGP Graphics desktop) in Firewire Target mode so it acts like an external drive but I am getting a new external drive and have some questions about it.

    I am getting a Western Digital WDG1U3200 My Book Essential Edition 320GB External Hard Drive. I will be using that with a 1.67 ghz 15" Powerbook DL. The info on the drive says it is Mac compatible; it needs OSX 10.3 +. I am using 10.4.10.

    - Will it come with a version of OSX on it? 10.3 or 10.4? The website doesn't say.

    - I could not install 10.4 on my other external drive, which was taken from an upgraded iMac, I am assuming a G3. My Powerbook is a G4. That may explain why I couldn't use the install discs that came with my Powerbook.

    What are the limitations on what OS you can install on external drives?

    - Assuming the external drive comes with a version of OSX, will it be bootable? Is there a way to make it bootable?

    Thanks for any help.


    John L
  5. macrumors 68000


    Mar 9, 2006
    From Canada, living in Seoul
    Hard drives don't come with operating systems installed on them. External drives are simply the drives you find in an everyday computer with a USB or FireWire interface.

    The install disks that came with your PowerBook won't work on any other model computer. I believe (but I may be wrong) that there is a bios check when you boot to the disks to install the OS.

    Check here for a guide on installing Mac OS on an external drive.
  6. Guest


    Apr 26, 2004
    Gallifrey -- Capitol City, Prydonian Sector
    In my experience, I have found that Apple's Disk Utility app is quite sufficient to handle a broad range of configuration and general setup tasks for most storage media.

    As far as defragmentation is concerned, while it's one of those things that us long-timers all "used to do", it's become increasingly irrelevant with the advent of the substantially higher performance hard drives of the past 5-10 years, and the sheer capacity of the last 3-5 also helps to greatly diminish the amount of "meaningful" defragmentation you will typically experience.

    Moreover, as capacity has gone up, so has the time it takes to do a defragmentation, in most cases so much so that it's typically faster to copy the data to another drive and reformat the first one, then copy the data back.
  7. thread starter macrumors 68020


    Dec 19, 2006
    South Florida
    i would say these are the major ones that need to be covered in the article.

    1. how to back up your files into an external and make it bootable
    2. making a fresh install of os x on an external

    and i'm not sure about this, but how about a starter's guide to cleaning up your hard drive.
  8. macrumors 6502


    Sep 6, 2007
    If anyone can PLEASE help me, I have the following questions:

    I bought a 500 GB external drive to use with Time Machine and to use as external storage. I want to partition the drive (I think) to use 1/2 for TM and the other 1/2 for storage.

    How many partitions do I need to selelct? 1? 2? I want to use about 160 Gigs for TM and the rest for storage. What file system (or format) do I need to choose? I am in the disk utility and it offers "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" Is that what I need to use for TM and for my storage?

    Also I plan to do a backup of my current Tiger system using SuperDuper. I would like to have a boot-able copy of Tiger on the external Drive. How would I do that? 3 partitions? How much space would be needed for that?

    I am using this with a Macbook Pro 2.2GHz 15.4" 160GB if that will help any.

    Thanks for any information you can offer
  9. macrumors 601


    Apr 19, 2006
    Carolina Beach, NC
    I realize this is an old thread, but has any progress been made on this type of external HDD guide? Almost 7k people have viewed this thread, so I guess it's a pretty popular issue. I've done a lot of searching on this topic lately and am finding only bits of information scattered about. With Leopard's Time Machine and the ever increasing needs of folks' backing up all their music, videos and what-not, this topic seems to be more and more relevant.

    Some topics that could be covered:

    1. Cleaning up current on-board HDD
    2. Time Machine Prep
    3. Time Machine (What really needs to be backed up)
    4. Creating a bootable OS back-up
    5. Booting from an external HDD
    6. Partitions and the programs that create them
    7. Choosing an external HDD
    8. The differences between Mac OS extended, Journaled, FAT32, etc.
    9. Different uses of external HDD's

    I know a lot of this info exists here in MR and on the web, but I've never seen all this in one spot. Please let me know if I'm missing this place. Thanks so much for your help!
  10. thread starter macrumors 68020


    Dec 19, 2006
    South Florida
    you're never too late for the fun, and i think this is a good outline for the article. i would add a few things though.

    in the 4. section, i would mention usb and ipods as possible sources for bare bone os x as a bootable version. also needed here are apps that back up data, since not all of us have time machine. and talking about that, time machine should all be in one subsection. and in the 7. section can cover outlet vs. non outlet powered as well as the differences between firewire and usb. i'm really hoping someone gets started on a guide to this soon.
  11. macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2008
    2 hard drives in G4 OS10.3.9

    By the way I agree with the previous messages regarding the need for more discussions about using external hard drives.
    I need some help figuring out a problem with my G4 with two hard drives...
    I have a Power Mc G4
    CPU speed is 933
    L2 Cache (per CPU) is 256 KB
    L3 Cache (per CPU) is 2 MB
    Memory is 512 MB
    OS version in both hard drives is OS X 10.3.9
    First external drive is a 60G IBM
    Second external drive is a 80G Maxtor

    My question: How can I access information from a second drive without having to restart it while running the first drive?
    Is it possible to have both drives controlled by third entity which can decide what drive to store and retrieve from?
    Appreciate any responses
  12. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 4, 2005
    I have a couple WD 500GB SATA2 hard drives inside a OWC Mercury Elite Pro enclosure and was wondering if there was any software I could use to periodically check their health status?
  13. macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2008
    External Hard Drives Are...

    External Hard Drives are simply devices used to store or backup information. Do not over think them. If you are on a Mac (which you should be since this is MacRumors) it just pops up in your finder just like your ipod. You drag your information to it through your finder and depending on how much you want to spend on your External Hard Drive it will go pretty quickly or really fast, speed should not be a big problem though. Obviously they have to meet your system requirements but that shouldn't be an issue considering how many different types of externals they have out there. And no they do not come with operating systems on them, that's your and apples job to keep up with that not the makers of these external hard drives.

    P.S. I spent $150 at the apple store and bought a 500 gig external, went back to my house and it worked like a dream no installation software or anything, so don't spend too much on it because it's not that big of a difference.
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 14, 2004
    South Jersey
    yeah, but do I need to install OS X on the external? and if I do, if I'm creating 3 partitions for 3 computers do I need to install OS x 3 times? I'm guessing yes- but I'm clueless with this stuff.. I admit that I am terrible at back ups and need some guidance...lol..
  15. macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2007
    Sorry lamina, the part highlighted above is just misleading. The hard-drives that Apple install on our Macs will indeed work on any system, no matter if it's a PC or PS3. So long as the interface is the same, they will function - provided they're not damaged.

    From what I can tell, Apple doesn't use any special firmware on their hard-drives nor are they specifically build HD's for Apple systems, they're simply supplied with a Apple logo on the drive and the serial number are supposedly logged on their DB.

    IF that was true many people on those forums will be experiencing problems when we customise our systems. For me, I've upgraded my stock 120Gb drive to a larger one (250GB) within a week of purchasing and recently I upgraded the drive again (320GB).. And I can tell you my old stock drive works perfectly find on my PS3. :)
  16. macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2007
    hiya jemeinc,

    Hope this information will help you, and those like you.

    Personally I would only install a OS on a external drive, IF i needed to boot of them. For example, your working on a MacBook and your one the road and the internal drive malfunctions and cease to boot.

    Alternatively, you need to run a different version of the OS or an entirely different OS on a regular basis BUT don't have sufficient space on the primary drive (internal) - You can in theory set up windows to run on a external drive, however.. actually doing it takes some manual tweaking, best left for the enthusiasts. Apple's supplied BootCamp won't allow you to install Windows to a external drive.

    If you purchase an external drive and your planing is to use it for additional storage/backup etc. Besure to check the packaging, if it's not specified as a MAC drive, you'll need to open OSX's Disk Utility and format/partition the drive... this will prep the drive for Apple's HFS+ disk format. That's it. The whole process take no more then a few mins.

    Why? Cause most external drives are pre-formatted for Windows as FAT32. Although OSX can read and write to those formats, it's not recommended especially if your using it as a Mac partition - re-formatting the drive doesn't void the warranty in any way what-so-ever!
  17. macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2007
    Hi DJaden,

    I believe, even in Tiger and Panther (for the benefit of others) you should be able to mount and unmount a drive. Occasionally, a drive won't show on the desktop because it's not mounted.

    To mount a drive is just a matter of launching Disk Utility (located in Root / Applications / Utilities). Look down the left column and highlight the greyed out drive and clicking the mount button in the tool bar, as shown below. Give it a try...

  18. thread starter macrumors 68020


    Dec 19, 2006
    South Florida
    i'm surprised that over a year has passed since i posed the question and there is no sort of backup/external hard drive primer up, especially with time machine with 10.5. so here's what would be on my ideal primer:

    -why backing up is important
    -what type of hard drives and mountings are needed to back up hard drives
    -applications to back up with
    -time machine and time capsule

    in each section, there will be an explanation of how to prep a backup and making a boot-able copy of osx. i thought by now someone would have done something...
  19. macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    I have added a short section on Backups to the Hard Drives Guide -- there's already a description of External drives there.

    If you're interested in seeing more in the Guides, why not start the ball rolling and write something up yourself?
    The Guides are a collaborative effort, there aren't any MacRumors staff writers maintaining them.
  20. thread starter macrumors 68020


    Dec 19, 2006
    South Florida
    that was exactly what i was looking for. thanks. i'll add more if i see fit later on, but this should do.
  21. macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    I've done some work. Can people chat a bit on the "Discussion" page?
  22. macrumors newbie

    Dec 14, 2008
    External Hard Drive Problem

    I just bought a G4 Mac Powerbook and the External Hard Drive I was using on to store my music from my PC isn't working on my mac. I went through all the troubleshooting steps and nothing is working. I can't even get it to show up anywhere on my mac. Not in the finder and not in disk utilities. I know it's working though b/c when I plug it into the USB port the light on the hard drive blinks red. I know for sure nothing is wrong with the hard drive itself. If someone could help me out with this I would really be grateful.
  23. macrumors newbie

    Jun 12, 2008
    Padova, Italy

    if u were using that hdd with windows, it's formatted as NTFS, normally ntfs partitions on mac are not writeable, just readable. I'm pretty sure u have to back up ur hard drive and format it as macos hfs+ journaled
    then u'll be able to use it properly with ur mac.
    do that using disk utility.
  24. macrumors newbie

    Dec 14, 2008
    The hard drive doesn't even show up in disk Utilities is the problem. And I know there is nothing wrong with the hard drive or the USB port.
  25. macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2009
    can some one help me with my problem?
    my second external hard drive went (blinking) not working after did a
    time machine backup. I tried USB ,FireWire noting is working:mad:
    HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!

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