External HDD - Can you contribute?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by MoleSkine, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. MoleSkine macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2009
    New York!
    Hello all -

    I've purchased an Imac earlier this month and since being on this site I guess I realzied that now I need to buy an external HDD in order to back up my data.

    Now - being that I am very novice to this idea - can you please contribute to this thread and help me make a good buying decision?

    Any and I mean ANY advice on backing up data, software, hardware, price etc that you can give in simple terms would be very appreciated.

    Just imagine your explaining this concept to a 7 yr old who needs to make a smart purchase :eek: :)
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Well, here are a few starting points to consider...

    1) Decide if you want to use Time Machine or not. In general, your backup drive should be at least as big as your internal drive. One way to do backups is to clone the internal drive using a tool like SuperDuper. The major advantage of this is that, should the internal hard drive ever fail or somehow become unbootable, the external backup is immediately usable -- you would just boot off it and you could fix your internal drive or in a pinch just work as if things were normal on the external. You can do incremental backups (meaning that you only have to backup the files that changed) to save time, but each clone ultimately takes the same amount of space as on your internal drive.

    So, for example, if you had a 500GB internal drive, you could buy a 500GB backup drive and make one clone, or you could buy a 750GB drive, make one clone, and have some space to put files, or you could buy a 1TB drive and make two 500GB clones, etc. But each clone would just be one copy of the drive, at one point in time.

    Time machine's major advantages lie in the fact that it lets you incrementally back up files as they change, onto the same drive, and do so automatically. What this means is that, if you were backing up your 500GB HD, you could have 5 or 10 copies of a certain file that changed frequently, even though you only have one backup drive. And you could "roll back" to these whenever you wanted. The backup drive should be as big or bigger than your internal drive, but unlike in the case of cloning, if you go from a 500GB drive for your internal 500GB drive, to a 750GB drive, you actually have more backup ability.

    2) Once you decide if you want Time Machine or some other kind of backup, that will determine to some extent how big the drive is. With Time Machine, it's more arbitrary -- basically, the bigger the drive (should always be larger than your internal), the better.

    3) The next major consideration after that is how important speed for the drive will be, and this will determine whether you want a USB (cheaper) drive or one that also has Firewire (faster).
  3. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    I use Time Machine and it is great. For me, I really like that it automatically does the back ups and I don't have to remember to do them. I had a harddrive fail on my iMac and after it was replaced via Apple Care, Time Machine had me back up and running in a couple of hours.

    I have a LaCie external harddrive. One of the reasons I bought it, was that it has four ways to connect to your Mac: USB, FW400, FW800, eSATA. Even better, it came with cables for all of them.
  4. MoleSkine thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2009
    New York!
    Ahh - thank you

    I have been reading though many people are having problems with Time Machine and are rather frustrated with it - so after reading all these complaints I am thinking about SuperDuper.

    Speedrive I don think is a major consideration of mine. USB or firewire is fine.

    I also have been reading that people here have not 1, not even 2 but like 3 external HDD backing up the other ext, hdd. what a doozy!

    What kind of external HDD do you guys have? or will purchase next? I will look them all up including this LaCie you speak of
  5. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    You needn't really lock yourself in, although I guess the scary thing with any backup system is that, by the time a failure occurs, it's too late to change what you were doing. :eek:

    There are perfectly valid reasons for doing these things, but you probably don't need to worry about them right now. ;)

    I built mine -- I bought an enclosure and at the time, a Seagate Barracuda 500GB drive (this is for an older Mac, with Tiger and a 160GB main drive). I needed Firewire because this is a PPC mac and it can't boot off USB. As it happens, I did ultimately have a failure, albeit not of the internal drive but of the SATA drive controller, and at one point I did actually boot off the external, and it was nice to have the clone (SuperDuper).

    If you want USB only, though, it's probably easiest to buy a pre-built one. LaCie is well liked, but pre-built drives from the majors like Western Digital or Seagate are fine also. For example, Seagate makes a FreeAgent line of external drives and WD makes a MyBook line. Check the warranty (number of years) on anything you buy, also.
  6. Mugwumper macrumors regular

    Jan 19, 2008
    Temecula, CA
    How much data and what kind?

    I agree with everything that's been said here so far. I would raise an
    additional question about your data: how much do you have and what
    kind is it? Do you have 10,000 photos, 7 years of tax records, etc.

    The reason I ask is to find out how difficult it would be to replace that
    data if/when your HD crashes.

    To put it in perspective, I have thousands of photos, thousands of songs,
    many GBs of movies I did for my wife's tai chi class, a ton of web page
    source files for my clients, and 7 years of tax files and other financial info.
    I would be dead in the water if I didn't have backups, and some of my info
    is no longer available in source form. So I elect to be paranoid: I have one
    external FW800 drive (1.5TB) just for TimeMachine backups and another
    external USB2 drive (750GB) for clone copies (I use Synchronize Pro, but
    have also used SuperDuper and CarbonCopyCloner).

    And I also burn copies of things onto CD or DVD.

    For an extra $300, I have 2 drives and 2 ways to recover anything I may
    need. Assuming one of these drives fails, I have protection until I can go
    get a replacement.

    It all depends on how much grief you want to go through when a drive fails.

    Hope this helps . . .

  7. MoleSkine thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2009
    New York!
    Well I have photos, music and documents. thats it.

    Im keepng my pc around just in case I forgot something. its a pain the arse to have that clunker in my room staring at me saying "you'll never get rid of me" :D
  8. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    I don't use Time Machine, it just has never really worked well for me. I use iBackUp which is not as "easy" as Time Machine. Given what you have there is no "best method" it simply is a matter of what works for you. The following is concerning hardware, iThink I can contribute:

    Or you could be OCD, anal and paranoid like me and have two back-up drives...

    Other User's Recommendation's:
    Build Your Own: uberamd, kufford, SaSaSushi, nanofrog, Ti_Poussin, bigdaddyp; Cave Man
    Drobo: gatepc recommends it, further mixed discussion here. A Drobo v. alternative discussion was had here.
    EZQuest: LizKat has owned a variety of Monsoons
    G-Tech: RebornKillah recommends the G-Drive Quad 500GB, but it's currently out of production; Digital Skunk notes the great warranty; jaysmith recommend G-Tech
    Hitachi: Trag (SimpleTech Signature Mini 500GB); J&JPolangin (SimpleTech 2TB SimpleDrive Pro Duo); BlizzardBomb recommends the Go; bigdaddyp recommends the Signature Mini. Thedesolateone also recommends Hitachi. Also of note is that Hitachi acquired G-Tech recently.
    Iomega: mc3s (Ultramax 34495 1.5 TB); Justin Lee (eGo 500GB Portable Mac).
    ioSafe: Tterb recommends.
    LaCie: Note: there is an entire thread dedicated to LaCie, I have summed up support from users below, but simply a tally
    jrotunda85, (d2 Quadra 1 TB); RedTomato, gatepc & eVolcre, {although eVolcre owns the one with eSata and Firewire 400}(Hard Disk, Design by Neil Poulton 1 TB); iGary (LaCie Rugged); Gymnut (F.A. Porsche, out of production); VanMac (BigDiskExtreme, out of production); Digital Skunk (2Big Triple, out of production)
    Users expressing general support: cmcbridejr, dpaanlka, LethalWolfe, mpsrig, UltraNeo*, iPhoneNYC, chocolate632, Hellhammer, romanaz
    Users not so happy with LaCie: surfmadison (not a big fan), accacc57, dave12345 (Little Disk), jaysmith, Jerkfish, auero, mperkins37, dfs & jessica.
    Maxtor: adamvk purchased a OneTouch 4 1TB (not sure what version)
    Seagate: steeler (FreeAgent Desk 1.5 TB); MacMini2009, rick3000 (Seagate FreeAgent Desk 1 TB USB Mac); suekitch recommends Seagate because of its warranty; Acid303 does not recommend the (new) Seagate FreeAgent Desk series
    Western Digital: MacMini2009, xpress1 & MacDawg (MyBook Studio 1TB); Thiol notes purchasing an incredible seven Western Digital MyBook Studio drives all working flawlessly; Acid303 also notes a positive experience with a non-Studio Edition Western Digital drive; terp2007 & matthewscott661 recommend the Passport Series; munkees notes a failure with one of the drives purchased, but a positive experience overall; rikdiddy, RebornKillah & Jerkfish also recommend Western Digital. chrono1081 does not recommend Western Digital & romanaz was also not happy.

    Other Threads:

    1TB is prbly a good size to start at it, I would say most people looking for non-mobile externals start at that size, here is a (not-so) recent thread about that...
    More literature found here.
    Here, is another thread on 1TB Hard Drives
    This one is about LaCie...
    Here is another, there is some more discussion about LaCie in there...
    Here is one on USB 1TB, I'd stick to Firewire...
    Just for kicks, we had a random thread.
    And if all else fails, MRoogle
    If you wish to have your name added to the list, PM Me.​
  9. ajumbaje macrumors 6502


    Jan 30, 2005
    don't want to hijack the thread, but I am also looking at an external myself.

    I dont need something portable and I'm looking for something in the 1tb range. I wouldnt mind playing my music off it also, so I can free up A LOT of space on my laptop. I know you can have itunes read off an external hd, but im not sure if it is on specific ones.

    I don't really mind transfer times since I would most likely just copy the stuff and go watch some tv or something.

    Is time capsule a good choice to go with? Im looking at that because of the wireless capabilities b/w our desktop and my laptop, both of which are macs.

    any other hard drive suggestions?
  10. highertechnology macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2009
    I use Time Capsule and Time Machine. About as user friendly as it gets for me.
  11. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    Time Capsule would def. work. Just remember you could also buy a regular drive and plug it in to the back of an Airport Extreme or other router that supported disk sharing.

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