External HDD Setup Dilemma

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by EliteDeforce, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. EliteDeforce macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2013
    Ok here goes...

    I am going to be purchasing a Haswell rMBP 15" when they do eventually come out. However, I think I will be opting for the 256GB SSD that will most likely come standard. Thus, this means I have to make use of my various external hard drives to hold the big stuff (movies, backups, etc.) However, I am switching to Mac from a very Windows-based setup I currently have going on, so I am new at this and wondering what I should do here:

    -I have 3 externals currently,

    a 2TB shared (home) network external that currently has another Mac computer running time machine on it (which I believe is an Apple file system), about a year old;
    a 500GB powered FireWire/USB2 external which I'm currently using as a main drive for my windows desktop (NTFS), about 6 years old;
    and a 1TB little portable USB3 external which I basically only use when on the go (FAT32), about 4 months old.

    I've decided I will be using the network drive solely for the Time Machine of my computer and my other iMac unless otherwise necessary. My biggest decision is whether to use the older 500gig drive as a main drive for my rMBP or simply keeping it as an archive. Most of my data is in this drive already with NTFS, so it's pretty useless in OSX at current. What I would do is transfer all the data to my portable 1TB unit and format the older drive for Apple file system. However, I fear I may somehow use some data in that big of a transfer.

    Alternatively, since I don't mind formating the portable unit, I could just use that as the rMBP's main drive and just write on the older drive manually through Parallels if absolutely necessary to archive. However, I feel the portable unit would be more prone to fail with heavy usage.

    Lastly, I could just spend 100 bucks to get a good powered external hard drive. Thus I ask you...

    What would you do if you were me? Sorry for the long post.
  2. Dark Dragoon macrumors 6502a

    Dark Dragoon

    Jul 28, 2006
    It really depends on how much data you have.

    I like to keep a fairly basic setup, making sure to have everything backed up, so:-
    Internal drive: All the data I frequently need access to
    External drive(s) : Data I infrequently access
    Time Machine drive: Backs up both my internal and external drives.

    So if this were me I would:
    Network Drive: Backup all the other drives
    Internal Drive: As much of the data I need to use frequently
    1TB External Drive (reformat): All the less frequently used data
    500GB External Drive: Leave alone for now/transfer data you use onto the 1TB

    If you are backing up the external drives using Time Machine then even if the 1TB drive is more prone to failure it shouldn't really matter as the data is backed up.

    If the 500GB drive isn't backup up, then I would transfer the data to the 1TB and have it backed up with Time Machine. You can then reformat the 500GB or continue to just use it with the Windows system.

    Additionally the 1TB drive will be easier to take with you if you need it.
  3. EliteDeforce thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2013
    Thanks for the response.

    The setup that you mention is pretty much what I figured I would do. The vast majority of my data is music and movies, I'd say about 250gigs worth, then I have another 50gigs of backups of my other data. So ill just format the portable for Apple file system and transfer over all that data (which has the advantage of being portable!) I don't need my music or my movies on my internal drive, I'm planning on keeping that pretty empty. I'll just pull movies onto the internal as needed.

    I didn't know you could time machine external drives though, this is good for me. Is it difficult to setup two split time machine partitions on a single network drive? My other computer already has backups on that drive and I don't want to lose those.

  4. Dark Dragoon macrumors 6502a

    Dark Dragoon

    Jul 28, 2006
    This is really dependant on your NAS/Networked hard drive, as to how easy this is to do or whether it's possible without wiping it. Some may be able to create separate shares on a single partition with size quotas.

    However you can backup multiple computers using Time Machine to a single partition/network share (they are kept separate). The main downside being that if one computer has some large files that change a lot, it could fill the drive affecting the backup of both machines.
  5. EliteDeforce thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2013
    I'll have 1TB available on the network drive for each machine so I should be fine.

    If I don't have the portable external plugged in for some reason, would the Time Machine just update what's on the internal drive and update the external next time its plugged in?
  6. Dark Dragoon macrumors 6502a

    Dark Dragoon

    Jul 28, 2006
    Yeah, Time Machine will only update the backup of the external drive when its plugged in and Time Machine runs a backup.

    If you only plug the drive in infrequently/for short periods of time it may be worth getting into the habit of manually running Time Machine when you make some changes to files on the drive by clicking on Time Machine on the top bar and selecting "Back Up Now".

    Btw the only real setup you need to do to get it to backup the external drive is to plug in the external drive, then go to Time Machines preferences > options, and make sure that the external drive isn't in the exclude list.
  7. EliteDeforce thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2013
    Awesome. Thanks for your help! Back to waiting for the haswell MBP now. :p
  8. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    My advice:

    If you are going to maintain an external drive for the MBPro, and it is going to have files on it that you value highly, DO NOT keep the drive in a "cross-platform" format (i.e., fat32). Files that you value should be stored on an external drive initialized in _Mac format_ (HFS+).

    This means you won't be able to use this drive with Windows, but that is the intent.

    I've just read too many posts from folks who have kept important data on "cross-platform" drives, and then, have had things on the Mac side mysteriously go bad on them.

    If you need cross-platform compatibility, then use a SEPARATE drive formatted specifically for that purpose. Connect it to the PC, copy your data onto it, connect to Mac, re-copy to Mac-formatted drive.

    My opinion only. Others' may be different.
  9. EliteDeforce thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2013
    I've already decided that my everyday drive will be reformatted to HFS.

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