Backup Mac OS Extended USB Flash Drive With Time Machine?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by B Gallagher, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. B Gallagher macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2008
    New Zealand
    Hello all,

    I'm currently running 10.7.2. I've got some files on a USB flash drive which I would like to back up using Time Machine. It's only a 1GB drive, but I want to get a 16GB drive, and want to make sure this works first, so I'm using the 1GB as a trial run. :)

    The drive is uses the GUID Partition Table, and formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled). When I go into System Preferences > Time Machines > Options > Exclude these items from backups:, the drive appears. I select it, click remove (for it to be included in backups). It gets removed from the list, and I click Save to take me back to the main Time Machine window.

    Despite this, if I click on Options again, the drive will automatically reappear in the exclude list, and it is not getting backed up. From what I understand as long as the drive is formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled), Time Machine should be able to back it up, so I don't understand why it's not.

    Does anybody have any idea how I might be able to fix this so that I can back up files saved on a USB flash drive? Many thanks. :)
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    I can't help you with Time Machine, as I don't use it, but Carbon Copy Cloner can backup that USB drive in a flash! (pun intended!) :D
  3. mfram macrumors 65816

    Jan 23, 2010
    San Diego, CA USA
    Time Machine is used to backup your internal drives *to* external drives. TM will not backup external drives. That's not what it's designed for. If you want to backup an external drive use Disk Utility or other third-party backup utilities.
  4. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
  5. Mal macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2002
    While Time Machine will back up external disks (see simsaladimbamba's post), it doesn't like to back up flash drives, hence the behavior you're seeing. I'd second GGJStudio's recommendation of Carbon Copy Cloner. It'll back it up just fine, and you can place the backup on the same drive as your Time Machine backups, just in their own folder or in a disk image.

  6. B Gallagher thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2008
    New Zealand
    Thanks for your replies everybody!!

    As has been mentioned, Time Machine can backup external hard drives, but not external flash drives. It's strange that this distinction is made.

    I use Carbon Copy Cloner anyway in addition to Time Machine to create bootable clones of my internal HDD. From what I know I should be able to set it to backup a particular folder, so I'll have a play and see if this will work as an alternative! :)

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