Help on what program to backup my Mac?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by alyehs, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. alyehs, Jan 3, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013

    alyehs macrumors newbie

    Jan 3, 2013
    I'm really confused about backing up files to an external hard drive, I have a Mac, and when I connect my external hard drive to the computer it tells me if I want to backup my Mac with Time Machine, but I don't know what it's the best thing to do.

    I want to use my external hard drive like an usb. I don't want to backup all my Mac, but a bunch of videos that I'm scared to lose if my Mac chrases someday. How should I backup it? Is there a way to just selectively drag the files into the external hard drive (Like an USB). I tried by opening the file of the external hard drive and dragging the videos to the drive but it doesn't work.

    Also, what I may have to do is backup the videos and delete them from my Mac afterwards... (it takes up almost all my space).

    I'm sorry, I'm just very confused about everything.

    I was searching on how to manually just drag my files to the Hard Drive and found out that the reason I cant drag the files is because the Hard Drive is formatted NTFS (which means you can't add files to it from your mac.) what can I do?
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    For backup purposes, there is the built in Time Machine*, which copies everything (unless EXCLUDED, there is no option to only select what to backup, only to select what does not get backed up) to an external HDD and can help you recovering your whole system and user data.
    Then there is CarbonCopyCloner (free version 3.4.7 not officially compatible with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion though) and SuperDuper!, which are applications, that clone (create a 1:1 copy) your internal HDD to an external HDD. With those two applications you can select what to copy and what not to copy (more advanced than Time Machine), the process can also be scheduled for a daily backup (Time Machine runs hourly).
    The advantage of a clone is also that it is bootable, which means, if your internal HDD gets corrupt or Mac OS X does not boot, you can boot from the external clone (if you have not deselected files/folders that the system needs).

    Time Machine might be the best solution out of those three if you are not that technically savvy.

    * Time Machine FAQ

    Then just backing up the files you do not want to lose (if there are not that many) manually will do the trick probably.

    The manual method is feasible.
    Your HDD needs to be formatted appropriately, HFS+ (Mac OS Extended) being the best, if all you want to do with the HDD is use it with Mac OS X.

    You either format the HDD or download appropriate software.

    See FAQ below:


    Overview of the four major file systems (called "Formats" in Mac OS X) used on Windows and Mac OS X, compiled by GGJstudios. You can use Disk Utility to format any HDD to your liking.

    Any external hard drive will work with PCs or Macs, 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. Formatting can be done with the Mac OS X Disk Utility, found in the /Applications/Utilities folder. Here are your formatting options:

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

    NTFS (Windows NT File System)
    • Read/Write NTFS from native Windows.
    • Read only NTFS from native Mac OS X
      [*]To Read/Write/Format NTFS from Mac OS X, here are some alternatives:
      • For Mac OS X 10.4 or later (32 or 64-bit), install Paragon (approx $20) (Best Choice for Lion)
      • For 32-bit Mac OS X, install NTFS-3G for Mac OS X (free) (does not work in 64-bit mode)
      • For 64-bit Snow Leopard, read this: MacFUSE for 64-bit Snow Leopard
      • Some have reported problems using Tuxera (approx $36).
      • Native NTFS support can be enabled in Snow Leopard and Lion, but is not advisable, due to instability.
    • AirPort Extreme (802.11n) and Time Capsule do not support NTFS
    • Maximum file size: 16 TB
    • Maximum volume size: 256TB
    • You can use this format if you routinely share a drive with multiple Windows systems.

    exFAT (FAT64)
    • Supported in Mac OS X only in 10.6.5 or later.
    • Not all Windows versions support exFAT. See disadvantages.
    • exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table)
    • AirPort Extreme (802.11n) and Time Capsule do not support exFAT
    • Maximum file size: 16 EiB
    • Maximum volume size: 64 ZiB
    • You can use this format if it is supported by all computers with which you intend to share the drive. See "disadvantages" for details.

    FAT32 (File Allocation Table)
    • Read/Write FAT32 from both native Windows and native Mac OS X.
      [*]Maximum file size: 4GB.
    • Maximum volume size: 2TB
    • You can use this format if you share the drive between Mac OS X and Windows computers and have no files larger than 4GB.

    Just for clarification, a backup is creating one or several additional copies of a file or folder. Copying a file/folder to another HDD and then deleting the source file/folder is not creating a backup.

    I have one 500 GB HDD for my photographs (digital and analog) libraries and editing documents, one 500 GB HDD with my personal video footage in an editing friendly format.
    Both 500 GB HDDs get backed up to one 1 TB HDD via CarbonCopyCloner.
    And that 1 TB HDD gets backed up to another 1 TB HDD via CarbonCopyCloner.
    Therefore I have three copies of my important data.

    To learn more about Mac OS X: Helpful Information for Any Mac User by GGJstudios
  3. joecool49er macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2012
    Thanks sim for all the good info. I have similar questions with my new iMac and that answered a lot. One thing I haven't found yet.. Can I use clone with SuperDuper and use Time Machine for backup to the same external HDD or should I have my clone on a separate partition than Time Machine? Is so, any idea how large a clone can be? Is it a compressed format? I have the 1TB Fusion drive. Thanks again.
  4. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    It is best to use one partition for the TM backup and one partition for the clone backup, though it is not necessary, it just keeps everything in order.

    The TM backup and the clone backup are at maximum around the size of the data you want to backup, say you have a 1 TB primary drive and have 256 GB of it used, around 256 GB will be backed up via cloning and Time Machine (if nothing is excluded).
  5. joecool49er macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2012
    That makes sense. I asked about the sizes because the Time Machine FAQ you linked to states:

    "A general "rule of thumb" is, Time Machine needs 2 to 3 times as much space as the data it's backing-up (not necessarily the entire size of your internal HD (and any other drives/partitions you want to back up). "

    Using EaseUs Todo backup on my PC laptop and creating incremental backups at high compression rates has left my with backup files much larger than the original file source. I always thought this was just a problem with the software but after reading that FAQ I thought Time Machine might work in a similar manner.

  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    simsaladimbamba gives very good advice, and I agree with it. I will just add this. I also backup using both Time Machine and a cloned backup (in my case SuperDuper! not Carbon Copy Cloner - both applications are good). My Time Machine backup is to recover from user errors (that is - me :) ). If I delete or lose an important file I can recover it from the Time Machine. My cloned backup runs nightly, and allows me to recover from catastrophic hardware errors... like the hard-drive crashes.

    However - there is a another recovery option besides from a hard-drive failure. If your entire computer goes into the shop, you can use your cloned backup to boot a 2nd Mac computer. This computer will then have all of your documents, applications, settings, etc. In other words - within the limitations of the hardware this 2nd computer becomes the computer that is in the shop, and you can carry on with your work. I used this to boot a Mac Book Pro (a laptop) as a backup computer when my Mac Pro was in the shop. When the sick computer came back I simply copied the external HDD to the internal HDD to bring it up to date...

    It is not perfect - some applications are licensed using the hardware for instance, and if it is a USB external HDD the boot times can be brutal. But... for the most part it works really well to keep you working when you would otherwise be stuck.
    As simsaladimbamba says, you should at least use 2 partitions. However, you should be even more pessimistic. It is too easy for a computer and a single external HDD to be broken at the same time.... so I recommend you put the TM and cloned backup on two different pieces of hardware.
  7. joecool49er macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2012
    Would you agree that the clone and TM backup should each only be the size of the data being backed up?
  8. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    A cloned backup is a nearly exact duplicate, so the space for that backup does not need to be bigger than the original. However, if you get a really good deal on a bigger HDD then why not? Eventually you may need to increase the primary HDD size. If the cloned backup space is already bigger then you don't need to buy new backup disk at the same time as the primary.

    Time Machine is different though. It keeps a history of all the documents you have ever had on your HDD - including those you have deleted.... within the limits of the space available. My personal opinion is that the major benefit of TM is access to deleted files. Bigger TM space means that older documents are kept longer before they are removed to make way for new documents. However, I don't believe a TM backs up everything. There are number of system files and what not, if I understand it correctly, that it doesn't bother with.... so the 1st TM copy should be smaller than the primary disk. Which means a TM disk the same size as the primary still has room to keep copies of the older documents. Plus.. your primary disk is usually not full, while a TM disk can be close to full and still work fine. So.... iirc, the advice is to get a TM disk that is a bit bigger but you don't need to go crazy. It will depend on the type of work you do, of course. If you are film maker with lots of 100GB videos - well you are probably not using TM in that case anyways... but those would need a much much bigger disk if you wanted to keep any kind of useful history.

    Hope this helps.

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