I will *NEVER* buy a computer that doesn't have a Target-Disk-Mode able port on it

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by motulist, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. motulist macrumors 601


    Dec 2, 2003
    Target disk mode is one of those features that you literally only need once every year, maybe even only once every 2 or 3 years, BUT... on those rare occasions when I need it, target disk mode COMPLETELY saves my butt. Like right now. My old powerbook G4's hard drive finally gave up the ghost after 7 and a half years (longest lived hard drive I've ever had). I did have a back up, but it was a couple of months old. If I lost the data I accumulated since that last backup it certainly wouldn't be the end of the world, but I definitely would rather have it than not. So I just plugged a firewire cable into it and connected it to my new computer, and boom, I was able to save all my data.

    This is why I would never buy a computer that didn't have firewire or lightpeak/thunderbolt or some other port capable of doing target disk mode. Because even though you may only need it once in every 700 days, but on that 700th day it *completely* saves the day.
  2. daver11 macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2005
    Phoenix, AZ
    What if there is no computer that offers this feature in the future? Will you revert to the stone age?
  3. motulist thread starter macrumors 601


    Dec 2, 2003
    Um, lightpeak/thunderbolt was JUST released and looks like it's gonna take off in reasonable fashion, meaning it'll be around for at least another 10 years. After that, there'll be some other technology that'll offer target-disk-mode and/or there'll be some new technology that completely eliminates the need for it, like maybe a technology that literally always keeps your data mirrored to a second disk that's in another physical location, like always instantly having your local drive's data backed up to a network drive on the net.
  4. drummerlondonw3 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 10, 2008
    Target disk mode has been available over USB since the first MacBook airs
  5. motulist thread starter macrumors 601


    Dec 2, 2003
    I'm pretty sure that's not true. I also did a google right now just to check and I didn't find anything to support your claim. Can you cite a reputable source that confirms your claim?
  6. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    The teaching of this story is to backup regularly. Your hard drive could have crapped out totally and then even Target Disk Mode would not have saved you. But a backup would have. I would say that you should NEVER trust on TDM again. You were lucky this time and it saved you but it may not save you again.

    If you hate connecting the external via cable, invest on an AirPort Extreme to make your ext HD wireless or get a Time Capsule.
  7. AdrianK macrumors 68020

    Feb 19, 2011
    I agree, for computers where the HDD/SSD is not removable, other wise I'd just remove it and shove it in an enclosure :p

    EDIT: Actually, couldn't you just boot from a flash drive/LiveCD with ubuntu or something on it? That would mount your drive (if it's still alive) and allow you to copy files to an external drive.
  8. iVeBeenDrinkin' macrumors 65816


    Oct 17, 2008
    AEBS or TM + External, frees the world. Or at least your backup and media drives drives from your Mac.
  9. sammich macrumors 601


    Sep 26, 2006

    A backup is instantly available, stress free and saves a lot of time. I've learnt my lesson regarding not having a proper backup system since my largest drive just failed (failed, as in only good as a doorstopper). That said, TDM has saved my ass before.
  10. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    Not really. USB needs the cpu to transfer data, FW doesn't. If you can't get your notebook to boot from the hard drive, then how can you even use USB in Target Mode?
  11. Kenndac macrumors 6502


    Jun 28, 2003
    You're misunderstanding how USB works — if what you say is true, then the system wouldn't be able to boot from USB drives either.

    I'm not entirely sure why you can't have Target Disk Mode over USB, but that's not it.
  12. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Very good advice. The OP was lucky this time. I agree that a good backup strategy is important.

    I saw another post today where someone's computer was stollen, and so was the backup drive. Similarly, a fire could destroy both your computer and backup.

    I personally use a dual backup strategy:

    1) Time Machine to a Time Capsule every hour
    2) Crashplan+ to the cloud every 15 minutes

  13. Penn Jennings macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2010

    No offense but when I read this, the moral of story is backup your data if you want. Lets face it, on Mac it couldn't be easier.

    Drive fail, they will always fail, they will always need to be replaced.
  14. slu macrumors 68000


    Sep 15, 2004
    100% Agree. The lesson here is that the OP needs a better backup strategy. He got lucky. If you have an appropriate backup strategy, you shouldn't need TDM in situations like this. My house could burn down and destroy every computer and drive I have instantly, and I would not lose much data at all. Probably none.
  15. gglockner macrumors 6502


    Nov 25, 2007
    Bellevue, WA
    1) Agreed with the comments that the OP needs a better backup strategy. Use Time Machine and/or cloning with Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper.

    2) Target Disk Mode is overrated. If you have an external clone, you can boot from it - even over USB.

    3) If you still don't believe me on (2), look on the MacBook Air forum. There isn't a lot of whining that it doesn't have Target Disk Mode.
  16. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    Not what I'm saying. If you boot from USB drives, the USB drive provides a basic OS that allows the cpu to interact with the USB to provide data transfer over the USB protocol. That is not required with FW which can handle data transfers independently from the cpu. When you boot in Target Mode, there is no underlying OS to deal with file management or data transfer - just what FW is capable of doing via the host FW hardware itself.

    Wiki explains it a little better than I can:

  17. Kenndac macrumors 6502


    Jun 28, 2003
    The only part relevant from your quote is this:

    The EFI firmware built-in to any Mac that doesn't require any operating system at *all* to be installed is powerful enough to utilise USB enough to allow you to use the keyboard and mouse. It can also connect to WiFi networks and boot the system from a remote drive.

    If it can do *that*, it would allow target disk mode is it was technically possible to do so.
  18. SuperCachetes macrumors 6502a


    Nov 28, 2010
    Away from you
    If your backups are newer than, say, 2 months old, target disk mode could be one of those things you need zero times. ;)
  19. emaja macrumors 68000

    May 3, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I love TDM too, but incremental backups are a far better solution. Off site backups - online or physical copies stored elsewhere - are even better.

    How many backups do you need? One more than you currently have if your data is essential or "mission critical."

    I have my local TM backup and use CrashPlan for offsite backups. Works like a charm and I can recover to any computer that I am on so it works in case of a complete loss.
  20. blipmusic macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2011
    Well, TDM has saved me a lot of time and pain, both when migrating and when distaster has struck. Incremental backups or not, the most recent data will always be on my main computer so the easiest solution when migrating will be TDM.

    Two years ago, my GPU fried in my MBP (8600M series, so the old overheating problem) meaning I had no screen to look at. Everything else seemed to work fine. Problem was, I was not at home and was in the middle of writing an assignment, a few reports and my thesis - the first two due a few days after this happened. In the end I was able to borrow an old iBook, get my data via TDM, and continue working without any overdue deadlines.

    TDM is just nice and practical to have somtimes and I'm saddened my next main computer won't have it when I get it (MBA 11"), but I'll live. It's not about "Backup now! Do it! Dooo eeeet!" per se, it's about a feature that has been very useful to me and helped out when I was in a pinch.
  21. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If you used Time Machine or followed a philosophy of always backing up, the need for TDM wouldn't really be there.

    You complain of the lack of a feature but yet fail to realize a better solution exists (backing up your data)
  22. Big-TDI-Guy macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2007
    Target Disc Mode saved my ass before - and no amount of data backups would have worked. It's helped me installing OS / rebuilding computers that have bad physical media drives - and recovering data from a dropped laptop that had a broken keyboard and LCD. :cool:
  23. bushbeat macrumors member

    Oct 1, 2009
    What really saves the day is an IDE/SATA to USB adapter. What ever interface a harddrive has (internal/external, 2,5"/3,5"), you are able to connect it to any working machine/OS to access data. No dependencies to a certain interface and it costs only a few dollars.
  24. blipmusic, Jun 4, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2011

    blipmusic macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2011
    Wouldn't you need something like this for the Air?

    Were kits like these made available, by the way? Didn't Apple block them (or at least one of them)? Also with TDM there's no need to dig out the HD/SSD (EDIT: Obviously, you'd need it to boot...).
  25. paduck macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    This is most certainly true. Popping out the raw drive and connecting it to a SATA-USB adapter removes just a out every other problem in the chain (and there can be many as described above). Then you can just mount the drive on another Mac.

    I agree with the above that a good backup strategy is essential. I had a similar near-miss like the original poster and now have a robust (and primarily automatic) backup strategy that relies on TM. Like one of the above posters, I am thinking about adding CrashPlan for off-site storage of non-media data.

    I like FW TD mode and it saves a Loy of time. But NEVER is a strong word and the case study here misses the point. Also, I doubt that when there is no computer that has a TD mode that he'll go without.

    Motulist - I'm glad you got you data back though. Like me, you should invest in a backup solution. A Time Capsule is a good deal and the ones they release next week ought to have some nice new features!

Share This Page