How can I password a external USB disk?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by MrMister111, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. MrMister111 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    #1
    I now have a Time Capsule and am using this as my Time Machine drive instead of what I was using, a external USB HDD.

    So to complete my backup solution I want to use this external USB drive to backup my most important things, my iTunes and iPhoto libraries, and my Home Videos from my camera, and take it off site, so then I have everything that is important to my in 2 places.

    So I'll probably store this external disk at my parents or my work, and bring it back every month to update. but how can I security protect the external disk, in case it gets stolen etc? password it or something?

    Also what is the best way to backup what I want to the drive? I'm not bothered about a clone of my machine, I just want the libraries backed up and my Home videos for editing.

    cheers
     
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #2
    "So to complete my backup solution"

    If you -really- want to "complete [your] backup solution", what you need is a BOOTABLE CLONE backup.

    Anything created with Time Machine isn't going to do it -- TM backups aren't bootable. In a moment of extreme need, nothing works as well as having a bootable backup close by.

    For years, I maintained a bootable offsite backup, but it was just a bootable clone of my main drive, stored in a locker at work. I didn't bother with encryption, didn't think it was necessary. And for all those years, it wasn't.

    I will admit to not knowing a great deal about encrypting info on the Mac, but would not an "encrypted disk image" (created with Disk Utility) do the trick?

    What I would do if I had-to-have encryption:
    1. First, I would create a non-encrypted bootable volume, and keep that at home
    2. Then, I would use Disk Utility to create an encrypted disk image of the bootable backup, and keep THAT drive offsite.
    3. I would periodically update the "home clone" (at least once a week or more frequently).
    4. Then, bring the offsite backup home periodically, and just "erase and re-image it".

    I'm unsure as to whether apps like CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper can deal with encryption in the clones they create.

    Suggestion:
    Don't bother with encryption. Instead, go to Staples and get one of those Sentry waterproof and fire-resistant chests. Keep your backup in the chest, locked, at your parents (if they have a basement, that might be a good place). If the house burns down, the box is fire-resistant, and because flames "go upward", it may suffer the least heat damage in the basement. Of course the fire department will spray water on the fire, and the water may fill the basement -- that's why you want a waterproof box, as well....
     
  3. MrMister111 thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jan 28, 2009
    #3
    I'm happy to use Time Machine to tbh, I understand its not bootable, but it backs up what I need the most, iPhoto, iTunes, and hone vids off my camcorder. and the rest of my Mac.

    The reason I want an offsite backup is worse case, but I may as well use a external drive I already have, and just to be safe, want it to be encrypted for security.

    i dont work from home or anything, so am happy with TM, and manually copying the rest to external disk. Its just I would like the disk password/encrypted

    I know a bootable backup would have me up and running quickly, but I can install an OS, recover from TM and off I go.

    cheers
     
  4. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #4
    Format the external drive using Disk Utility. You can specify "Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted)" at that time. Note that this assumes you are running Lion or Mountain Lion.
     
  5. MrMister111 thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jan 28, 2009
    #5
    Wow is it as easy as that?!? Just had a look at Disk utility help and it has to erase disk 1st :( I've just copied everything over!

    How secure is it with this password on?

    I am now using Mountain Lion btw, can I only connect to my Mac with it (take it no Windows PC would allow it?), or any Mac as long as I have the password

    thanks
     
  6. madmin, Aug 27, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012

    madmin macrumors member

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    Jun 14, 2012
    #6
    That depends on the quality of the password you use. An 8 character password with a mixture of upper and lowercase characters that don't make sense in any language including a few digits should be secure.
     
  7. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    California
    #7
    The encrypted image mentioned is the way to go.

    If you want to automate that process, you can use Carbon Copy Cloner to backup to an encrypted image as described here. Just select the files you want and set it up to an encrypted external image and then save the CCC backup set as a scheduled task. You can tell CCC to run it at specified intervals or upon an event like plugging in a specific USB drive.

    I have a task setup in CCC that copies my documents, music, and photos to an external USB key whenever I plug that key in. CCC will remember the image password in OS X Keychain if you wish (or not).

    CCC runs a OS X daemon that detects the USB key when I plug it in, runs the CCC backup set and ejects the encrypted image all by itself.

    Same end result as using Disk Util, but this just does it all for you.
     
  8. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    #8
    It's Mac Lion and later only. The password is saved in your keychain so you will only be asked once on any Mac you use.
     
  9. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #9
    It won't work with Windows, but you can plug it in to any Mac and just enter the password prompt that comes up when you try to open the encrypted disk image. It does not have to be the same Mac you made the image on.
     
  10. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #10
    I think that you are smart to want an offsite backup. I think the smarter way to do this is to use cloud based backup because of two reasons:

    1) Security,
    2) Automated operation

    You are trying to solve #1, but there is no way to solve #2.

    I personally use TM for local backup, and Crashplan+ for cloud backup. CP+ solves both issues. In fact... it is by far the most secure backup that I own.

    Having said that... I do rotate a set of drives between home and office, to keep yet a 3rd copy of my data stored off-site (in a locked office drawer). The way I address the security issue is to ONLY store media on that drive. I keep no documents etc on those drives because they can be used to commit identity theft.

    If someone was to steal my media HDD from my office... there is nothing in there that would cause me damage. I'd just make a new HDD and continue storing it offsite.

    I personally use Carbon Copy Cloner to update the drive periodically. When I attach the drive... any new media is added to data already on the drive. Essentially... it is a one-way sync to the HDD.

    /Jim
     
  11. MrMister111 thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jan 28, 2009
    #11
    I'd much prefer to use cloud backup, would be an easier choice for me, but my iTunes and iPhoto library are already unto 200Gb, how do I do the initial upload? it would take weeks and weeks. Also as you say, if I add only a small batch of photos, does it then have to copy the whole library again?

    I would pay for this, but as mentioned the initial upload and maintenance, I'm unsure how this would work.

    If you know how then please inform me
    cheers
     
  12. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #12
    After the initial upload... updates are incremental. Your iTunes/iMovie/iPhoto etc libraries are not really "monolithic libraries". Instead, they are "packages". Packages are really just additional sub-folders so as you add music, pictures, etc... only the new stuff is uploaded, as well as the small database pointers that define your library. If you right click on a library and select "show package contents"... you will see that it is just plain old folders underneath and just the details are hidden.

    200GB is pretty small. Does it really matter if it takes a couple of weeks? My original Crashplan+ backup was about 600GB... and over the years, it has grown to almost 1.5TB as my digital equity has grown. It all happens in the background.

    If you really need it backed up quicker... then (at least in the US) you can pay for a seeded backup. I suspect that very few people pay for a seeded backup. Instead, they just let it run, and it completes in due time.

    In the mean time... brute force copy your data to your USB drive, and bring it to work, or store it in the trunk of your car.

    /Jim
     
  13. MrMister111 thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jan 28, 2009
    #13
    Suppose it takes as long as it takes, I just think it really will take weeks as upload speeds are slooow. Can you stop and start the process? ie there is more than one user on many Mac so will be logging in/out switching on/off/restarting etc. What about video upload can these also be done piece meal?

    I understand about the package type of iPhoto libraries, does crashplan support only the changes after that though? I believe some don't.

    I read about the seed thing, I'm in UK so its not supported, but wow why used it so expensive! Its a much better way for the initial upload.

    So what was your 1st upload size? Also have you ever had to use it to recover? I mean not individual files but a big download, what are the speeds like? Do you get charged for recovery etc?

    Is it really secure? All my pics I don't want even the company to see, is this so?

    What do you backup then? As I say it'll be may iTunes and iPhoto libraries.

    It looks like 3 years is nest option unlimited. $150.
     
  14. talmy, Aug 28, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012

    talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    Location:
    Oregon
    #14
    I also use CrashPlan as one of my backup methods (I'd never rely on just one). I've tested partial restores which work fine -- always test the ability to restore no matter what you use. I've got the plan that lets me back up multiple systems -- 4 of them here, including my server, are connected. Costs me $120/yr which is certainly a bargain on a per-system basis. I've got nearly 1TB on it

    Some services with "unlimited" storage throttle uploads after you reach a certain point, making it difficult or impossible to backup large systems. I believe that all of them have an adjustable throttle so you don't completely swamp your connection. I have only a couple complaints about CrashPlan. The first is that even with throttling effectively turned off the upload process is slow. This is obviously apparent when starting out. It is important to make sure that folders you don't need to be backed up (temporary files, downloads, and also virtual machine images that should be backed up infrequently) are ignored. The second problem is that CrashPlan has a fairly large memory footprint. If you are hurting for RAM (2GB systems, for instance) you don't want to use it.

    In general they only back up your data. You should have local backups of your applications.

    The service is nice because it will send you emails on how it is doing, and if no backing up is being performed for a set length of time.

    Let me address your specific questions:
    Suppose it takes as long as it takes, I just think it really will take weeks as upload speeds are slooow. Yes it can.

    Can you stop and start the process? ie there is more than one user on many Mac so will be logging in/out switching on/off/restarting etc. What about video upload can these also be done piece meal? Yes on all counts.

    I understand about the package type of iPhoto libraries, does crashplan support only the changes after that though? I believe some don't.
    IMHO packages are always a problem. You might have difficulty recovering the photo library structure, however the image files will be there. I use Aperture which has it's own backup method -- it saves to "vaults". I have CrashPlan back up the folder containing the vaults but not the Aperture libraries.

    I read about the seed thing, I'm in UK so its not supported, but wow why used it so expensive! Its a much better way for the initial upload. I had other backups in place, so I didn't mind the time. You are paying for the labor, which is why it is so expensive.

    Do you get charged for recovery etc? No.

    Is it really secure? All my pics I don't want even the company to see, is this so? Your system encrypts and decrypts the data and only you have the key. So the transfers and the storage are secure.

    What do you backup then? As I say it'll be may iTunes and iPhoto libraries. Everything that is irreplaceable. Photo and non-ripped music (I can always re-rip), mail, documents, financial information, videos I produce.
     
  15. MrMister111, Aug 28, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012

    MrMister111 thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #15
    The two problems you mention are a concern for me. My initial upload will be around 200Gb and my iMac is an older 2007 version, maxed out with memory of 4Gb.

    Does it have to run all the time in the background? I would be happy if it ran when I said to start really.
     
  16. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    California
    #16
    There is a menu bar button you can optionally enable to just click when you want to pause/start the backup. Ordinarily there is a Crashplan daemon that runs in the background all the time so the app does not need to be running.

    What I did when starting out was only select documents at first, then when that was done I checked marked photos for upload, the finally music (which was largest by far). This way you can get your most important data up first.
     
  17. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #17
    Your iMac can actually use up to 6GB of RAM. You can find specs on all Apple products, including maximum RAM:
     
  18. MrMister111 thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jan 28, 2009
    #18
    Ah ok thanks but why would Apple advertise less than can be used? I suspect as its not fully supported. I'd rather stay with 4Gb as it's older and don't want to spend any more money on out, I'll upgrade when a touch screen iMac comes.....whenever that will be!
     
  19. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #19
    Yes, it is fully supported. Apple has historically understated maximum RAM on many Mac models. You're welcome to stay with 4GB if you like, but there is no problem whatsoever with using 6GB.
     
  20. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #20
    I do not understand your issue with "packages". As far as I can tell... (during my test restores)... my Aperture 3 library restored just fine.

    Now my A3 library is quite large, so I do not want to do a test restore again... but I am confident it would work.

    I also rotate manual copies of my A3 library offsite on a pair of USB drives. One is always offsite. I tend to update/rotate whenever I make a significant import to my library, or when I complete a significant project (such as a printed book).

    /Jim
     
  21. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    Oct 26, 2009
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    Oregon
    #21
    When TimeMachine first appeared there were warnings to exclude Aperture. Perhaps they have fixed the issue. The problem is that these packages are dynamic data bases. A backup at any point in time might have the images but the database for referencing them might be wrong, causing the images to seemingly disappear.

    So I use Aperture Vaults and back them up.
     
  22. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    Portland, OR
    #22
    I understand the dynamic nature of Aperture database. The same holds true for iPhoto as well.

    Since my database remains static for long periods of time, and since the TM backs up every hour... and since you can "turn back the clock", then I think it is easy to find a point of stability.

    However... your vaults by definition are static snapshots... so indeed they should be even more safe.

    /Jim
     

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