Best way to back up multiple macs to one external?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by mskh123, Dec 16, 2016.

  1. mskh123 macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2016
    It's spring cleaning of electronics at my place today! I need to back up data across several Macs to one 2TB external hard drive. I want to be able to keep track of which computers these backups are from - Work, Home, my parents, etc. but the Time Machine backup file won't let me edit the name of the file. What's the best way for me to do this?

    These are computers that I will not be backing up regularly - the majority of them will be "retired", with only 2 being active, and I have separate externals that I can use to keep them current if that's a good option. I don't want to partition the drive because for instance, one drive is 500 GB and has 48 GB of information on it, and I don't want to waste the space. The goal is to be able to rid my place of the old computers/cords/etc but still have the data available to me and know where to find what without having to dig around. This would include needing to keep old applications/possibly operating systems in order to access the data.

    Thank you in advance!
  2. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    You could make a disk image file in Disk Utility. Name it whatever you want. Then backup one machine to it. When you're done backing up one machine, unmount the disk image (Finder: right click, choose Eject).

    Then create another disk image for the next machine. Repeat as needed.

    If the disk images are created as sparse bundles, then they'll only take up the amount of space on disk for the amount of actual files on each one. For more info on sparse bundles, see here:

    Also google search terms: mac sparse bundle
  3. mskh123 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2016
    Thank you very much, I will try that! I have one backup that I already made with Time Machine and deleted the original data (I was giving the computer to someone), do you have any recommendations for that? Can I add the user to a different computer and then create a disk image?

  4. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    You should be able to go into Time Machine and restore from that TM backup. After restoration, you treat it like any other data.

    I don't know what you mean. Which user is "the user"?

    Any user can create disk images, if that user can use Disk Utility.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    How I would do it:

    a. Get an external hard drive of sufficient capacity.
    b. Partition it as needed.
    c. Use either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to clone the contents of each computer to its respective partition on the backup drive.

    All done!
  6. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    CarbonCopyCloner will write to disk images. Partitioning is unnecessary.
  7. dwig macrumors 6502

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    I use this method for my work computers. My 4tb backup drive has multiple 500gb partitions so that I can clone my internal HDs to separate partitions. I have multiple partitions for each machine so that at any one time I have a series of backups, usually 2-3, from previous months. I opt to have the clones bootable so they can be use as-is if the main HD goes south in addition to being a repository for individual files that may need to be recovered. For individual file recovery I rely on TimeMachine, which is set to use a different drive that is always connected. I keep the backup drive disconnected when not is actual use. I happen to use SD, but CCC works as well.
  8. mskh123 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2016

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