Backup of MacBook to external drive

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Susja, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. Susja macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2017
    Hello Folks,
    I am planning to setup backup process for my MacBook machine to external drive.
    I see a few choices: use Apple brand and buy 'time capsule' or any third party external drive; use Apple 'Time Machine ' or some other backup program; use 'time capsule ' without 'Time Machine ' and other combinations.
    The only thing that I need is that external drive interface should be wireless because I don't have more available USB ports.
    My request: could you please share your experience/ opinion on that?
    Maybe nothing that I mentioned above matters and could use any combination I am most comfortable and etc ...
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    My opinion:
    Too much trouble.
    Use a USB cable to attach the backup drive.
    Is it really that much trouble?

    1. Buy an external USB3 drive of your choice. It can be either a platter-based hard drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD).
    You haven't told us how large your internal drive is.
    If it's not large (250-512gb), that makes a USB3 SSD external affordable.
    If you don't want to spend much, an HDD will do fine for backups.

    2. Download either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper. Both are FREE to download, and both will do the initial backup clone for FREE.
    - CCC runs free for the first 30 days.
    - SD will do a "full backup" forever without registering, but if you want to do incremental backups, you have to register.

    3. Connect the USB3 external and initialize it using Disk Utility to HFS+ with journaling enabled.

    4. Launch your backup utility. I prefer CCC because it can clone over the recovery partition, as well.

    5. In CCC's window, put your SOURCE DRIVE (internal) on the left. Put the TARGET (external) to the right. Set it up to do a "straight clone" (the "safety" is turned off).

    6. Let CCC do its thing. It will create a "clone" -- an EXACT COPY of your internal drive -- on the external.

    7. When done, you can "test" the backup:
    - Power down
    - Press the power-on button and IMMEDIATELY hold down the option key and keep holding it down until the startup manager appears.
    - Click on the external drive and hit return.
    - The MacBook should boot from the EXTERNAL cloned drive.
    - It will LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME as your internal. Choose "about this Mac" to verify that you're booted from the backup.

    All of the above looks complicated, but IT'S EASY.
    Do incremental backups a few times a week (they go MUCH faster). Or even every day.

    There is NOTHING ELSE that can get you going again in an "I can't boot!" moment as quickly as an external bootable cloned backup.
    You won't appreciate this until you have one of those moments yourself...
  3. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    If you want wireless backup, the official way to do this is using either a Apple Time Capsule, or an Apple Airport Extreme router with a USB drive attached. Then just use the included Time Machine software to backup. It will run transparently in the background hourly.
  4. ZapNZs, Mar 18, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    What MacBook Pro do you have?
    How much storage do you need for the backup?
    What backup type are you thinking of?
    Do you want the ability to access this hard drive as your personal cloud for general file storage?

    If you don't mind going wired, but are out of ports, an inexpensive USB hub (or a more expensive ThunderBolt hub) can give you many more ports than what you currently have.

    If you want wireless, you can for the Apple route, or you could also go the route of NAS. I recommend NAS, because it allows a User to configure a highly reliable, highly secure, redundant, high-speed storage solution for a reasonable price.

    NAS is one of the most flexible backup routes, where you could use Time Machine, carbon clones, manual data backups, or a combination of the three, and you have the option of backing up wired, wireless via your local Wifi network (i.e., you are using your own router and NOT any data you buy from your Internet Service Provider), or over the Internet even if you and your computer are thousands of miles away from where your hard drive is located.

    What is NAS?
    What NAS product could meet a wide range of needs for a reasonable price?
    How does this particular product blend with Apple products?
    How much is it? -2 bay unit where you add your own hard drives

    Then, you could use high-reliability 3.5-inch hard drives, which are superior to most consumer-grade storage. For additional redundancy, you could configure the NAS enclosure to save multiple copies of the same file to two or more physical drives (so, if one fails, you still have a backup for your backup.) I highly recommend the HGST Ultrastar family (and DeskStar), available in sizes ranging from 2 TB to 12 TB.
  5. Susja thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2017
    Well ... this is very valuable. My both Mac's internal drives size is less than 400 Gb hence I thin 1 TB would be enough for me. I decided that I'll go with wireless NAS. I think to use SuperDuper (friend of mine recommended me it too), I think to setup scheduled backup on daily basis with incremental type. In my case it's not a business but rather Home environment hence I'll do it both to be on a safe side in case something happened with one of my Mac's and mostly for fun. I also think that I'll setup a personal cloud and etc.
    - ZapNZs, assuming wireless NAS with ~ 1 TB size which one would you recommend?
    Thanks everyone for valuable opinions.
  6. ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    I've not used SuperDuper myself, as I use Carbon Copy Cloner. But I am guessing SuperDuper has the same scheduling system as CCC. With CCC, what I do is I schedule a task to automatically create a carbon clone backup of the local hard drive Mon,Wed,Fri at 4:00 AM (when I am not using the computer), and it automatically creates this backup at the scheduled time (and if the computer is not turned on, it can turn itself on at this time to create the backup.)

    If you plan to do backups and a personal cloud, you would probably want an absolute minimum of 2 TB (maybe 3-4), because, if you already have 400 GBx2, you do not have much growing capacity. Opting for the larger size up front could prevent you from having to purchase new drives in a few years for space-related reasons. High-quality HDDs can be used for 5 years easily. Additionally, the price difference between 1TB and 2TB 3.5-inch HDDs is usually pretty minor.

    If you go with the Synology Diskstation model 216J, you will have everything you need except for the drives (the unit holds two drives - you can use it with just one if you wish, and you can use both the 2.5 and 3.5 form factor.) The company is committed to their Mac Users, and their service is great if you have questions during the setup and usage process, or if you just wish to call them before buying and ask them more about using their NAS enclosures with your Macs (so you know everything you can before clicking the "Buy" button, such as what options there are for making multiple TimeMachine backups to the same physical drive.)

    With that specific Synology enclosure, you can configure a RAID1 if you wish. That is, you would put two hard drives of the same brand/size inside the enclosure, and (after setting it up) the NAS enclosure would automatically save all files to both drives (so it is as if you manually saved every file twice - once to each hard drive - except this is done automatically and you would use the system no differently.)

    How high of quality you want those drives to be is up to you. If you are using two drives in RAID1, that means you have a lot more leeway with how nice you wish to go since you have redundancy (if one backup fails, you have another drive with the same contents, and all you have to do is replace the failed drive and the system repopulates the new drive with the backup data on the older drive that did not fail.) If you choose to use only one drive, you will not have this redundancy.

    In my personal opinion, I would call this:

    Very Good - 2tb

    Very Very Good - 3tb
    (the other thing I like is how the write speed of this drive is over 220 MB/s, which is twice the speed


    Best - 2-4TB - I consider this to be the pinnacle of storage, and use the Ultrastars extensively

    When buying a HDD, it's worth being very, very careful who you buy from, in my opinion. For example, Amazon is not a reputable place to buy many HDDs from IMO, because they are complicit towards (or simply permit) their Sellers who practice unscrupulous behavior of misrepresenting a drive's condition, history, (and sometimes capacity.) Many "Fulfilled by Amazon" HDDs that lead the consumer to believe they have purchased a new product are used/defective/non-working. Even some flash products sold directly by Amazon have been discovered to have been extremely convincing forgeries (obviously Amazon did not do that intentionally, but it goes to show how big that issue is there and how little control Amazon has over this problem.)
  7. Susja thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2017
    ZapNZs, first of I have to correct myself not being clear. I meant that my 2 Mac's have only 360 Gb both i.e. one 120 and another 240 Gb
    Second ... I'm a little bit confused with your suggestion: none of those NAS stations are wireless but this is my requirements. Also I'm not sure if I need to setup RAID ... sounds a little bit overkill but maybe just for fun.
    Do you have anything in your mind with similar options but wireless?
    Thanks again
  8. mmomega macrumors 68030


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    If you want ease and convenience.
    Get a Time Capsule.
    If you have an Airport Extreme, connect a USB drive, it doesn't have to be fast because wireless backup is slow as molasses anyway.

    The only time you will have an extremely slow backup will be the first one. The initial backup is the big one, each consecutive backup is just the changes made since the last. So if you've downloaded a 30 mega byte file only, your next backup will be 30 mega bytes.

    Actual wireless external drives, in my experience, are terrible with a terrible implementation. Skip those. Seriously they're very bad.

    I don't even time machine at all anymore and rest easier now than previously when I spent way too much time even thinking about data backups.
  9. ZapNZs, Mar 19, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    The DS216 is wireless (connects to the WiFi router to use as a cloud but doesn't have to connect to your MBP - so you do not have to use any ports on your MBP.) You have the option of using it wired if you wish, but do not have to - this is part of the flexibility, in that you can access it through an ethernet cable, a USB 2/3 cable, via your local WiFi network, or via the Internet (when away from home) - this is how they can function as a personal cloud. You can access these drives even if you are on the opposite side of the globe. :) I can't really speak to other options, but there are other NAS enclosures that people are very happy with.

    I recommend this because it is a robust, fast (for wireless) & reliable solution in a world where many consumer-level wireless hard drives are just absolutely, positively, terrible. I would dare say that a sizable chunk of those who buy it go through several economy/consumer-grade wireless solutions (and the frustration they entail) before arriving there! :p
  10. Susja thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2017
    Appreciate your input. It's clear and valuable for me.
    I reviewed my options and price and etc and decided to go with this one:
    WD 4TB My Cloud Personal Network Attached Storage - NAS - WDBCTL0040HWT
    Do you think it will be OK for me?
  11. ZapNZs, Mar 20, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    My personal experience with Western Digital and Seagate wireless drives has been limited, but, in that limited experience, has been terrible. I do not have experience with that particular product, so I really can't speculate how well it will or will not work, nor can I say much about WD's Mac support one way or another.
  12. Susja thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2017
    ZapNZs, I just bought Synology 216j and one HDD as you suggested. Not sure how I will use it other than backup but my goal is to explore it capabilities, setup cloud, maybe web server or etc. In other words hope to have fun.
    Thanks again. All your replies were very helpful
  13. garyleecn macrumors 6502a

    Jul 25, 2014
    I won't vote for USB hard drives. Especially for laptops. You will just forget to plug it in after couple days/months. And this defeats the whole purpose of regular backup
  14. Susja thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2017
    After listening to your opinions I've bought NAS and hope to do backups and more importantly have fun with other cool things like cloud and etc
    I found your inputs very valuable
  15. ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    Susja, I think you are going to be VERY happy with this call, with all of the flexibility it provides, along with seamless integration & reliable function. The DiskStation really does just about everything :)

    These might be of interest after completing the quick setup...

    Using DSM - general overview

    A Mac perspective on setup/config, using the DS for TimeMachine, and DS+Plex as a media server (different 216 model but they all use the same DSM software)

    Setting up TimeMachine

    Overview of CloudStation abilities

    Cloud configuration

    Other capabilities for fun
  16. Susja thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2017
    - ZapNZs,
    I just assembled my new toy i.e. ds216j and about to setup backup process.
    What would be your suggestion: use built-in Synology backup utility or better use CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper?

  17. Kanders78 macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2015
    I have a Synology DS 916+ with 4 - 3tb WD Red drives and so far it works great. I even backed up the most important data from the Synology to Amazon S3. Works seamless so far.
  18. Susja thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2017
    What are using for backup?
    Are using and happy with Synology backup utility or you are using another software like SuperDuper or etc?
    I am about to setup the process but debating which one to use.
  19. Kanders78 macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2015
    I am using the hyper utility to back up to a local drive and Amazon S3. I have it backing up the things I can't replace such as pictures and files. Programs I don't use anything to back up. If I lose the computer, I can reinstall the files, I have all keys tripled backed up to multiple locations. If lose the NAS, I have all of my important files and pictures on the external hard drive and Amazon S3 to recover.
  20. Susja thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2017
    Thanks for your comments. I just established backup process from my MacBook to NAS using 'Hyper' and TimeMachine.
    I still have a few questions and would appreciate if you could clarity it for me:
    1. Actually backup is performed by TimeMachine but what is 'Hyper' doing in this process? NAS is just a storage for images and why they use this utility 'Hyper'? Just for better infrastructure? Any clue?
    2. I would like to verify somehow that my 'backup' process is reliable hence my question: do you know how to restore single file from backup and how to restore the whole image? Could you boot MacBook from that image?
  21. Kanders78 macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2015
    Hyper is not doing anything unless you have it backing up to another drive locally or cloud storage. My set up I just created a folder on the synology named time machine and then allotted a certain amount of space. From there I just directed my MacBook to have time machine back up to that folder. For me and my NAS currently I am not using it ever boot from as it stands now. What I use hyper back up for is to back up from the NAS to another hard drive my photos and other important documents in the event I have two drive failure in the NAS. Finally I back up the same thing to Amazon S3 in the event of local catastrophe such as flood, fire, massive power surge. I am not for sure if you can reboot from that synology as those were not my needs. I do know that I can restore the files in the event one of those issues happen.
  22. Susja thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2017
    Great! Someone on another forum explained me that Network located backup (like in our case) is not bootable. Sounds that I hit that Hyper just by mistake being confused by 'Hyper backup'. Anyway I have backup process using TimeMachine and external drive like NAS Synology. Not sure if I have replace it with something like SuperDuper or leave it as is? What do you think? I think that I could setup Cloud Station for backup as well and use either TimeMachine or SuperDuper .. Make sense ?

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21 March 18, 2017