Best external storage solution and strategy

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Cbdboz, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. Cbdboz macrumors regular


    Oct 31, 2013

    I am currently maxed out on data storage on my 2009 iMac (650g) hard drive, and about to invest in a new iMac and / or Mac mini ( but waiting to see if there will be a new model coming out on the mm).

    Whilst I can wait until late 2013...or early 2014 latest for my next iMac/MM, I need to resolve the current issue of data storage..and ideally want to get an external drive solution that I can save current data to, ideally use as the core drive for iTunes etc...and ensure this is future proof for my new machines when I get them....and I guess scalable in size.

    For safety reasons, I may also need more than one external drive / that I can take periodic backups and keep off site.

    Need help and advice on the type of hard drive solution I should look at.

    All advice and comments welcome...

  2. McGiord, Nov 7, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013

    McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    The key decisions you have to make are:
    Size = 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, etc…
    Connection type = Thunderbolt 2, USB 3.0, etc…
    Speed = SSD, Hybrid SSD+ HDD, HDD 5,400 rpm or 7,200 rpm.
    I always buy my external drives from

    I am currently looking into updating my AirPort Extreme with a Time Capsule, therefore having the faster wireless speed.

    My back up strategy is to have a clone of each drive, I have a late 2008 MBP with a 256GB SSD running OS X and the Apps, and a 1TB HDD storing all the libraries, and and Snow Leopard (for running OLD Mac OS Apps - Rosetta).

    Once I get the Time Capsule I will be using the Time Machine backups also.

    I am also considering getting a hybrid drive for replacing the SSD and update to Mavericks, I am currently still running Lion.
  3. Cbdboz thread starter macrumors regular


    Oct 31, 2013

    Size...probably limit to 2TB or would expect that by time I reach this in 2 years, there would be cheaper and better options.

    Connectivity - I want future proof so USB3 and TB... And should be be compatible to USB 2...or have FireWire for speed on current iMac.

    Speed...I would prob get SSD in the new mac, so HDD or hybrid is fine.

    Backup strategy. ???? Is cloning using a certain software, and does this back up periodically or continuously...and is this to a separate drive again.
    (My idea is to always have a periodic copy of data that I can keep safe offsite, as well as having a separate/ main key external storage that I can use to keep all my media content ( pics, movies, songs)

    I currently have a time capsule ( prior version)... But the challenge here is:

    1- I am not sue if I can use this as the core drive for all my media content, as it seems to be geared more as a back up rather than the disc that ITunes will rad and write to.

    2 - as a backup strategy, this is pretty poor if I am away from home as I can not hide and keep safe, without also losing the router capabilities....
  4. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    You can define what specific folders you want to backup via TimeMachine, however I haven't use it.
    My strategy has been to have a HDD with the same size of each HDD, and also some bigger ones, trying to always have at least two backups.

    As far as I have experienced with any drive you buy from OWC they give you backup software for handling the automation and managing the backups:

    Instead of using them I have been using either Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper over the years. I am not the best backup person, I know I have some lag in my latest backups.
    Once I buy the reminder of the drives I want to have I will finalize organizing all of them.

    As temporary piece of mind I use iCloud: all my music is backed up with iTunes Match, and the latest pictures are in PhotoStream.

    I also keep some recent documents in DropBox.

    All my emails are in the email servers.

    So again, I am not the most efficient backup Mac practitioner, but I think I have all my important stuff backed up.
  5. Stewart21 macrumors regular

    Dec 9, 2011
    South Yorkshire
    I would probably get a NAS if I were in your shoes. You can use it as a backup device and also as a media server for your iTunes. Some come with Time Machine built into the NAS so you can continue to use that and schedule backups or you could use something like Superduper which will also allow you to schedule backups.

    For offsite storage I use a couple of cheapish portable external HDD's and swap regularly with my brother in law. He keeps my backups and I keep his.

    Have a look at the Synology website to get an idea of the types of NAS that are available. I'm not recommending them but they do have a wide range of products.
  6. FireWire2 macrumors 6502


    Oct 12, 2008
    The best ext storage for old and new MAC

    Since you will have both old an new MAC - i would look for an external storage that can use for both. An external storage with multiple interfaces like Thunderbolt, USB3.0, Firewire800, and support HDD greater than 2TB, so in the future you can just replace with bigger HDD.
    Take a look at this box:

    It's a driver-less - Simply plug in, no driver nor software need to install
    There are options for eSATA | USB3.0 |and/or FW800 connection
  7. Djtrackie macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2012
    Definitely get a drive or hdd enclosure that will be compatible with both.

    USB 3.0 is the current top choice right now, but your machine does not have that.

    So you have to choose the fastest connection that your machine have and have it compatible with USB 3.0 so that WHEN u do upgrade, it will still work, and it'll be even faster.

    My pick is for an enclosure with both firewire 800 and USB 3.0

    you can use a "dock" such as the newer technology voyager quad interface

    or an enclosure

    Either that, or u can just go with a USB 3.0 enclosure and use it with your USB 2.0 ports on your iMac. HOWEVER, be warned that your real world transfer speed is about 20 MB/s vs the 80MB/s.
  8. FireWire2 macrumors 6502


    Oct 12, 2008
  9. Cbdboz thread starter macrumors regular


    Oct 31, 2013
  10. ecrispy macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2013
    Cheap and reliable backup strategy - buy 2 of 2/3TB drives, they can be had on sale very often. Use them as local backup drives with both Time Machine, since it can handle multiple drives, as well as a system image using CCC if you want. Rotate the drives regularly.

    Then later on you can easily buy a NAS enclosure to which you can attach the drives and thus it becomes network storage. You can even buy a router (if existing one doesn't support it) which will allow attaching drives - this will give you a cheap Time Capsule.
  11. Cbdboz thread starter macrumors regular


    Oct 31, 2013
    The new Mac mini never materialised...but will still wait for the next version before buying.

    In the meantime I have serious performance issues with iMac and Mbp due to hard drives being completely full...have cleared some space, but now need to seriously consider archiving my media files from iTunes (songs and movies), iPhoto, to an external drive.

    (1) From reading the previous responses, and given that I will eventually get a Mac mini with osx server...I believe I should look for DAS rather than NAS.

    (2) I would need to get a multi bay enclosure....for disaster recovery purposes...I am assuming the best way would be to swap over data drives periodically and store versions offsite?

    (3) drobo seems to get a lot of reviews...would this be the way to go from an enclosure perspective....assuming it is backwards and forwards compatible for USB 2 and USB 3 etc.

    (4) if I have a iMac in study, Mac mini in home theatre set up, and roaming Mbp iPads etc....where is the best place to have the enclosure directly connected...or would I need separate directly connected devices to both iMac ( main computer) and Mac mini ( main purpose for home theatre)

    (5) once I have the correct set up...what is the best way to free up space on respective iMac and Mbp hard drives....can I point applications such as iPhoto, iTunes to an external hard drive for all content....or can it somehow pick up both content on the internal hard drive & content on external hard drive and make this seamlessly available via the respective application? ( eg I archive 50% of content to external to free up internal drive space....but the iPhoto sees both when I go in to it?)

    Sorry for many questions....but this forum has been extremely helpful, and would appreciate all and any views on the above.


Share This Page