Can I just buy any portable external HD for Time Machine usage?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by stanny, Oct 6, 2010.

  1. stanny macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2008
    Will any external usb 2.0 portable HD work? Or does it need to be a certain file type? Western Digital has portal HD's specifically for Macs. What's the difference with their standard ones?
  2. The General macrumors 601

    Jul 7, 2006
    Any USB2.0 or Firewire external hard drive will work. You'll just have to format it with Disk Utility.
  3. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Yes, as long as you format it properly as HFS.

    • Read/Write FAT32 from both native Windows and native Mac OS X.
    • No individual file larger than 4GB.
    • Read/Write HFS from native Mac OS X
    • To Read/Write HFS from Windows, Install MacDrive
    • To Read HFS (but not Write) from Windows, Install HFSExplorer
  4. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    Any USB 2.0 or Firewire 400/800 HDD will do. The HDDs advertised as being made for Mac OS X are just pre-formatted with HFS+, the file system Mac OS X uses.

    You can do that yourself via Applications / Utilities / Disk Utility.

    Format Your Hard Drive Using Disk Utility
    Partition Your Hard Drive With Disk Utility

    Also on first connecting an external HDD, you will get prompted with the following message, if you choose YES/USE, the HDD will be formatted correctly.

  5. stanny thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2008
    If I format it with HFS, will a Windows based machine be able to read from it as well?
  6. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    If you install MacDrive in Windows, yes.
  7. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    The Bold and Sizeful:

  8. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    1. Yes.
    2. The only difference between a "hard drive for Mac" and a generic hard drive is that the "hard drive for Mac" will cost more.
    3. Avoid hard drives with fancy software installed of them. It is either useless and you pay for it, or it really gets in your way and you still pay for it.

    Basically, take any portable hard drive, plug it in your Mac, start "Disk Utility" (in the Utilities folder in the Applications folder), in Disk Utility select the new hard drive, click on "Partition", and choose Format = "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)", that is essentially what makes it a hard drive "specificially for Macs". Ten seconds work vs. lots of dollars and it gets rid of any software that you _really_ don't want on your backup drive.

    Then you set up Time Machine, that's it. Obviously the first backup always takes quite a while.
  9. stanny thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2008
    Thanks guys. I got a Lacie by S+ark 500gb. I must have paid additional for the design and software that came on it! But I gotta say, I am loving the design cause I can strap the built in USB cable into it.

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