Backup drive for Mac Mini late 2009?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by WanderingPhilosopher, Sep 24, 2016.

  1. WanderingPhilosopher macrumors newbie

    Sep 24, 2016

    My tech support left me and took backup drives with him, so I'm seeking a new solution.

    I have a late 2009 Mac Mini. My current network connectivity is spotty, and is not under my control (or could be my antenna; no idea). Therefore, I'm seeking a plug-in solution. Right now I have about 200 GB on my computer, and don't expect that to grow significantly. Can someone recommend an economical but reliable backup drive ? I have Time Machine, though don't know how to use it yet.

    If I'm going to spend over about $40, I'd hope to get something that is also compatible with current low-to-mid-range Mac Mini, as that will almost certainly be my next computer. Thank you in advance.
  2. RootBeerMan macrumors 65816


    Jan 3, 2016
    I've been using Western Digital external drives for years and have had no issues with any of them. They've all worked flawlessly with TM and they're not too expensive, (depending on where you buy them). If you're in the US and have a Fry's Electronics near you sign up for their promo codes and you can get discounts on their daily deals. I see WD drives on there every day or two. $70 bucks can get you a couple of TB. The codes apply to online sales, too.

    The WD drives are just about as plug and play as it gets, although you might want to reformat it and split the drive.
  3. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816


    Feb 16, 2010
    Dayton, Ohio
    I agree that Western Digital is a good brand (I use them myself :) ), but most big name drives are highly reliable these days (Seagate, Toshiba, etc.).

    Ah, Time Machine is quite possibly the easiest backup software ever created. :) It has exactly two settings: off and on. And if you plug in a new external hard drive on an OS X machine, it will ask you if you want to use it as a backup drive. If you choose "yes", it will set up everything for you and start backing up immediately.

    Your best bet here is to get an external drive that supports the USB standard (preferably USB 3; most do these days). The current Mac Minis all have USB 3 ports, and while the 2009 Mini only has USB 2 ports, all USB 3 drives are backwards-compatible with USB 2.
  4. grcar, Sep 24, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016

    grcar Suspended


    Sep 28, 2014
    You will have some problem finding an external disk that connects BOTH to your late 2009 mac mini and to the newest mac mini. The late 2009 model only has USB 2.0 plugs and a Firewire 800 plug, while the new models only have USB 3.0 plugs and Thunderbolt plugs. Drives that connect through USB 3.0 are backward compatible with USB 2.0. Apple does sell a dongle that plugs into the Thunderbolt plug on newer computers and converts them to Firewire ports. (There is no way to connect a Thurderbolt drive to a non-Thunderbolt computer.)

    I have used LaCie drives for backup of my old mac minis and of my new imac. Search for "lacie d2 quadra" on eBay for drives with Firewire 800 connections. A 1 TB model should sell for $40 to $50 in an auction. The supply varies from week to week.

    LaCie also has USB drives. Search Amazon for "lacie rugged". A new LaCie Rugged Mini USB 3.0 / USB 2.0 1TB External Hard Drive 301558 will cost about $100.

    When you first plug in a drive particularly a used drive you should use Apple disk utility to erase the contents and to format it. This takes no time. You can also check the drive, but that can take several hours. I do not want to get into the ins-and-outs of using disk utility.

    Time Machine works almost automatically once you start it up. The first time it will ask you for the backup drive. The first backup of 200GB will take maybe 3 to 6 hours through USB 2.0 or Firewire 800.

    Hope this helps.

    Maybe I should add that the one good thing about Apple computers is Time Machine is a very simple way to move your files to a new computer. Assuming your backup disk can plug into the new machine, the first time you power up, mac os will ask if you have a time machine backup. It will copy all of your files and put them into the correct spot.
  5. Micky Do, Sep 24, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016

    Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Agree with all this….. I have an early 2009 Mac Mini; Time Machine was one of the incentives to replace my 2005 original rather than replace the failed HDD. Fortunately I had backed it up just a week before, so didn't lose too much. Set up Time Machine and forget it…… though I have found it handy on the odd occasion to retrieve a deleted file that I thought I would never have call to use again.

    My first Time Machine back-up disk was a 320 GB Toshiba, which I got from the local Apple dealer (where I also bought my Mac Minis). It was already formatted for Mac. Now I am using a 1 TB Seagate. That was also Mac formatted when I bought it, though not from the Apple dealer.

    For archiving seldom used files, I have another 500 GB Seagate. That was not Mac formatted when I got it, so I went through the process myself. It was a bit of a hassle at first, but turned out to be simple enough in the end…. easy when you know how! The folks at the local Apple dealer offered to do it for me if I was unsuccessful; nice, considering that I did not buy the HDD from them.

    I also have an old 80 GB Western Digital HDD that a friend gave me, loaded with some movies to check out. Again, I had to format that for Mac before I could use it.

    Edit….. And I still have the original 120 GB Fujitsu HDD in the Mac Mini, now over seven years old.
  6. WanderingPhilosopher thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 24, 2016
    Thanks, everyone. For anyone who is interested: I got a Western Digital My Passport Ultra from Amazon. Nothing happened when I plugged it in -- I don't know whether or not that's because Time Machine had been turned off. I probably tried turning it back on, but not sure. At any rate, I went to the web address listed on the insert that came with the drive (, downloaded the manual, and found instructions for formatting the drive for Mac OS X using Disk Utility. Pretty straightforward. Then I went back into Time Machine preferences and told it to use that drive instead of the old one. It says it’s in the process of backing up now.
  7. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    You would do better to download CarbonCopyCloner (which is FREE to download and FREE to use for the first 30 days), and use it to create a bootable clone of your internal drive.

    Then run it at intervals to update the clone.
  8. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816


    Feb 16, 2010
    Dayton, Ohio
    CCC is certainly a more flexible product; but is it really necessary in this case? For straightforward backup and restoration, Time Machine is perfectly adequate and dead simple to use. I've used it both for retrieving individual files and for restoring an entire machine after the internal drive died. It's easy and reliable.

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7 September 24, 2016