External Hard Drive for College

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by rdshank, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. rdshank, Jul 20, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011

    rdshank macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2011
    North Carolina
    Hey everyone! Just want to start off saying that I am a long time follower, but new here to the forums. I have a few questions about external hard drives and the partitions that I should create for them.

    I am enrolling as a engineering student this fall, and at orientation, the IT offices preached to us about how backing up your data would be crucial. I am a long time Mac user and just bought a new MacBook Pro, and I am now looking forward to using it the next four years in school. I understand that I will eventually have to run a boot camp partition for my computer for some of the engineering software, and was wondering if I buy an external drive, how should I partition it so I can receive the best longevity as I move through school? I would like to use Time Machine for my Mac backups, but should I partition it off so that I can use some for general FAT storage incase I run and need to share some Windows files as well as general file storage? I am starting to learn photography, so more space for my pictures may be needed as well.

    I am currently looking at the My Book 2 TB from WD. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0031WU8XS. But, does anyone else have a suggestion for other drives to buy? I am open to any option, I just want a quality drive that will last.

    My internal drive is only 500GB and right now very little of that is used, but I would like to do back-ups at least once a week so that my information and files would be safe. Any help or comments would be appreciated. Thank you all so much!

  2. bumzo1 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 31, 2009
    Dallas, TX
    oh wow thats a great price on that drive. I have the slightly upgraded 1tb mode with firewire and it has held up great so far, much better than my other external. However If I was in college I would want a portable drive, that way you can take it with you when you travel or if you need to let a friend borrow it and you won't have to deal with an extra power cord because they are powered by USB. WD is a great brand and one of the only brands I trust with HDDs now. Whatever drive you get though you can easily partition your drive to use with time machine and windows machines with disk utility. For a 500gb drive I would allocate at least 300gb to time machine. As that amount fills up time machine will automatically delete the oldest backups and when it does new backups it only backups the changes to use less space.
  3. rdshank thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2011
    North Carolina
    Thanks for the help. The only reason why I was thinking a desktop solution was so that I could have the connivence in my dorm room, and then I can use the large 32 Gb flash drive for sharing files on the go.

    If I get a portable hard drive, would 1TB be enough? I'm just afraid that Time Machine would consume a lot of space, and I would like to have some space to allocate and use for general use and sharing.
  4. CP1091 macrumors regular


    Aug 28, 2007
    I have a 1tb Passport for backing stuff up at college. I don't do a full backup, but just backup my documents folder. This is only difficult because you need to make sure all your important programs save to my docs rather than all over the computer. Works great though and is nice and convenient!
  5. E to the Pi i macrumors newbie

    Feb 20, 2011
    From what I understand, Time Machine doesn't duplicate files during a back-up. That's to say: Only if you have edited a file will a new instance of it be created on your back-up drive. In that case, you could back-up 200 GB of apps, and have 2000 more "documents" (5 MB) with 10 of the past edits recorded for each one before running out of room. (Check my math on that.)

    This fact is why bumzo1 suggested 300 GB for the partition, and not some size larger than your laptop's hard drive.

    All-in-all, you shouldn't have any problems.
  6. obsidian1200 macrumors 6502


    Jun 19, 2010
    Albuquerque, NM
    Depending on your budget, it might be worth your while to look at external drives with a FW800 connection instead (because FW800 is faster than USB 2.0, which is what your notebook is limited to). However, they are more expensive, and that WD drive is fairly priced. From my experience with that line of drives, it'll do the job and be worth every penny :)

    Also, taking your possible living conditions into consideration, you might want to think about how secure your desktop drive will be when away from home. A portable drive might be your best option simply because it's portable.

    EDIT: if you're backing up a certain folder, why not just use a copy & paste method of backing up? Doing this, you could format the drive as a FAT32 to keep it accessible by other OSes just in case your computer does fail, and it might be faster than letting Time Machine go through its motions. Just another option for your consideration.
  7. rdshank thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2011
    North Carolina
    See, I didn't realize that it didn't back up a file if you didn't edit it, I should have read into that a little further. So in that case, if my hard drive is 500Gb when (and if it ever gets full), would a 1Tb external drive hold all of my backups if I primarily edited smaller documents and projects? If so, then I would definitely look into one of the WD 1Tb Passport's. I love the portability and convince, I just thought I always needed more capacity.
  8. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "But, does anyone else have a suggestion for other drives to buy? I am open to any option, I just want a quality drive that will last."

    You could also consider getting a "dock":
    (many items shown, all work the same, just pick one you like that's cheap)

    ... and a "bare drive" (or two) from the vendor of your choice (I like Seagate drives from newegg.com).

    The advantage of a "dock setup" is that the drive isn't "wedded" to the enclosure. If there's a problem with the dock, just get another one (and use your existing drive). If there's a problem with the drive, just get a fresh drive for your dock.

    The DISadvantage is it's more of a bother to carry around (but still transportable). Then again, docks are cheap enough where you could get a second one for home, and just tote the bare drive along with you (in an appropriate carrying case).

    The USB/SATA docking stations are VERY handy accessories to have around -- particularly if you encounter another drive and need to work with it....

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