External hard drive for Time Machine backup

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by jasimon9, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. jasimon9 macrumors regular

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    Mar 11, 2009
    #1
    I was thinking of getting an external hard drive for use with Time Machine. On Amazon I found a Seagate 1.5 TB unit for $129. However there is a similar model "for the mac" for $192.

    I am wondering if the cheaper unit would work, or if the one for 50% has some indispensable feature.
     
  2. BayouBengal macrumors regular

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    #2
    I'd assume the only difference is it'd be pre-formatted in the Mac format as opposed to NTFS or FAT32.
     
  3. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 11, 2009
    #3
    Yes the description stated it was preformatted, but $63 seems like a strange premium for that alone.

    It also mentioned that the mac unit supported Fireware 800 and 400, whereas the other unit did not mention that. Plus it has the cables for both Firewires.

    I am wondering if people have had good experience with the basic USB only unit?
     
  4. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #4
    I think you'd need to tell us exactly which model you were considering before we can let you know if people have had a good/bad experience with the "USB only unit."
     
  5. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 11, 2009
    #5
    I was thinking about the following:

    • Seagate FreeAgent Desk 1.5 TB USB 2.0 Port External Hard Drive for Mac-Silver ST315005FJA105-RK
    • Seagate FreeAgent Desk 1.5 TB USB 2.0 Port External Hard Drive-Silver ST315005FDA2E1-RK
    • Seagate FreeAgent XTreme 1.5 TB USB 2.0 Port External Hard Drive-Black ST315005FPA2E3-RK
    • LaCie 301201U Big Disk Extreme+ 2TB Firewire800/Firewire... 2.0 with RAID External Hard Drive
     
  6. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #6
    Time Capsule has no firewire.

    Firewire is useful if you plan to use the drive for other things e.g. direct connection to your computer.

    Firewire is expensive though (it has far faster sustained speed than USB) so if you don't need it you can choose to buy a drive without it.
     
  7. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #7
    You said "Time Capsule has no firewire." How does this comment relate to the use of Time Machine with an external drive? Is firewire supported for that?
     
  8. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #8
    You can certainly use TM with a firewire hard drive, but honestly I don't think it would make much difference. I've found that the speed advantage for FW is only marginal compared to USB, because TM can't transfer files faster than it indexes them. The initial backup takes a long time if you have a big hard drive, so FW isn't going to save you a lot of time. Subsequent backups don't take long anyways.

    It is useful if you plan on partitioning the drive and using it as storage for large files (for example, movies).
     
  9. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #9
    Time Capsule is the external drive/router/wifi access point sold by Apple. It has no firewire.

    Time Machine is the application made by Apple that does backups. It can run on Time Capsule or on almost any other external, with USB or with FW. (as long as it's formatted in Apple HFS+)

    Clear now?

    It can be a little confusing.
     
  10. geoffshep macrumors member

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    UK
    #10
    I recently bought a WD 1TB usb external drive and it works fine for time Machine. As far as I remember, TM erases and formats the drive anyway so any drive should be fine, irrespective of which pre-formatting it arrives with.
     
  11. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #11
    Nope, Time Machine won't erase or format any disk. God, I hope not. That's not what it should do.

    It will only back up to disks that are in HFS+ (Journalled). If the external disk isn't in that format, then it's up to you to make the decision to erase and reformat in Disk Utility or whatever.
     
  12. geoffshep macrumors member

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  13. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #13
    Oh that's interesting. Thanks for reminding me of that. I'd guess it calls some of the Disk Utility routines to do the erase and formatting.
     
  14. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 11, 2009
    #14
    I decided to buy the Seagate 1.5TB FreeAgent Desk. I went into my local MicroCenter to pick it up, and when I got there several people were saying bad things about its mac compatibility. The mac guy there said he had lots of returns, and had tried it himself, and it would not work. He said that the previous units were not recognized.

    This made no sense. But he agreed to try it again there in the store anyway.

    After plugging it in, the drive was not recognized automatically, be he said something about having drive recognition disabled. But in Disk Utility the drive was there. After a quick reformat, it worked fine.

    So I took it home, and it is working fine for me as well and I am using it with Time Machine as intended.
     
  15. ddeadserious macrumors 6502a

    ddeadserious

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    #15
    Good to hear, I love it when people don't know things and just make assumptions.

    The issue is almost always that it's not Mac formatted, 30 seconds in Disk Utility fixes that. Hard drives are not "Mac Specific" like half the world thinks.
     
  16. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    Agreed -- the whole concept of incompatibility in this case made no sense. Especially since it is a USB unit.
     
  17. macgroovy macrumors member

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    Aug 29, 2007
    #17
    Hi Jasimon (or anyone else in the know),

    I'm also looking at the Seagate FreeAgent range to backup my MBP.. Did you end up buying the PC version or the Mac version? I'm guessing/hoping the cheaper PC version could probably be configured for mac anyhow via the disk utility?

    Cheers
     
  18. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #18
    Look for that guy on the next Laptop Hunters commercial.

    macgroovy- there are no problems buying a "PC-formatted" hard drive to use for your Mac. The only thing you'll have to do is reformat it when you first plug it in.
     
  19. Tumbleweed666 macrumors 68000

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    Mar 20, 2009
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    Near London, UK.
    #19
    I'm running TM on a 1TB Toshiba HD which was advertised as 'PC compatible' and made no mention of Mac. Its USB only. TM backups take a minute or two. Maybe the initial TM backup took a little longer than if I'd had a firewire disk, but so what, it happens in the background anyway. Buy the cheaper disk.
     
  20. macgroovy macrumors member

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    Aug 29, 2007
    #20
    Thanks for the feedback Miles and Tumbleweed.. Am gonna go and buy one tomorrow. I've had my MBP for a year now and never really thought about backing up stuff until a friend's MBP got stolen recently. Here in Australia most people just recieved a $900 cash handout from the Government to try and stimulate the economy, so my wallet's a bit fuller than usual ;)
     
  21. MactheRye macrumors newbie

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    Apr 29, 2009
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    UK
    #21
    Time Machine HD


    I use the Lacie 1Tb Big Extreme - straight forward plug and go and uses Firewire 400 and 800 - great\
     
  22. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 11, 2009
    #22
    Bought the PC version. The people at the store said they had a lot of trouble with returns because "they were incompatible with the Mac." However the fellow in the store offered to try to hook it up and see if it would work.

    Well, naturally it had to be reformatted first, as I knew. After that, it worked fine, so I bought it.

    So far been pretty happy with it.
     

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