External hard drive

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by firetruckjanet, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. firetruckjanet macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2012

    I have an old iMac version OS X 10.4.11. It has an 800 MHz PowerPC G4 Processor and 768 MB SDRAM. I need to buy an external hard drive to back up all my stuff but I don't know what is compatible or how much memory I need. As you can probably tell, I'm not very techno savvy.:eek:
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Any external hard drive will work, as long as the connectors are there (Firewire, USB, etc.) It doesn't matter how the drive is formatted out of the box, since you can re-format any way you like. If you plan to use the drive for backups of your internal drive with Time Machine or Carbon Copy Cloner, it should be formatted as HFS+, and should be at least the size of your existing internal drive.

    Format A Hard Drive Using Disk Utility (which is in your /Applications/Utilities folder)

    Choose the appropriate format:

    HFS+ (Hierarchical File System, a.k.a. Mac OS Extended (Journaled) Don't use case-sensitive)
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    You might consider one of these gadgets:
    (many items shown, they all work the same, just pick one you like that's cheap)

    Then, either buy a "bare" SATA hard drive, or ask around -- sometimes you can scrounge one up for free.

    You'll also need the free version of CarbonCopyCloner, version 3.4.6.
    You can download it here:

    Just connect the dock, put the drive in, turn it on
    The drive probably isn't initialized, so launch Disk Utility and initialize it. You might run DU's "repair" feature just to test the new drive before using it.

    Then, launch CCC and on the left, choose your source (internal) drive.
    On the right, choose your target (the docked drive)
    Then, let CCC backup everything (it will take a while)

    When done, you'll have a fully-bootable cloned backup of your internal drive.
    Very useful.
    You'll find having a USB/SATA dock around to be very handy if you ever encounter another hard drive -- just "swap and go".

    You might consider buying a USB3 version of the dock. That costs a little more, but the USB3 docks are "backward-compatible" with USB2, and if you get a new Mac with USB3, they will take advantage of the speed increase.
  4. joepunk macrumors 68030


    Aug 5, 2004
    a profane existence
    Your iMac might not be able to power an external usb hard drive unless the hard drive comes with it's own power cable/adapter. I know on my Powerbook G4 I can't get my external portable HD to work/be powered by a USB cable alone. I have to use a powered hub device via firewire.
  5. sine-nomine macrumors regular

    Jul 25, 2007
    Finer stores everywhere.
    Since your iMac may be old enough for this to be an issue, double check that it has USB 2.0 before buying a USB hard drive. If not, you'll almost certainly want to look for a Firewire external.
  6. SteppingStone macrumors member


    Aug 6, 2012
    Definitely check whether you've got USB 2.0 -- i know a lot of those machines didn't have USB 2.0 yet.

    Assuming you've only got USB 1.1, I'd suggest getting an external drive or enclosure with both Firewire 400 and USB.

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