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BeautifulWoman_1984

Contributor
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
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58
Hey guys, I really need some help here!

I've used Time Machine a lot on my old Mac Mini mid2011 and it was great. I definitely miss it when I use Windows' PC's... ? ? ?

I'm thinking of buying a new Mac Mini M1, however the internal HDD capacity is only 256GB/512GB so I want to plugin some external USB HDD's so I have more storage space.

Is it possible for Time Machine to backup files that are on an external USB HDD that's connected to a Mac Mini M1 and backup these files to a separate external USB HDD that's connected to a Mac Mini M1?

Or can Time Machine only backup files that are stored on a Mac's internal HDD that comes with the Mac when I buy it?

I've asked questions about Time Machine in the past, but I've never had a thread dedicated to Time Machine so I really want this thread to be just focused on Time Machine so any other advice about Time Machine would be much appreciated!


Thank you for any help!
 

BeautifulWoman_1984

Contributor
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
451
58
When don't you? :rolleyes:

Yes you can use external drives for Time Machine connected by USB.

You can potentially use a NAS as well, but that can be problematic. A decent USB drive of at least double your internal drive is best, preferably using USB C/3/Thunderbolt.
Thank you for your reply TiggrToo!

Can you show me an example of Time Machine being used in the way I want?

EDIT: By the way, I'm aware that it's possible to get a 2TB internal HDD for the Mac Mini M1, but it's just too much money... so I thought buying external USB HDD's and connecting them to the Mac Mini M1's USB ports would be a better way to go!
 

Boyd01

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Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
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New Jersey Pine Barrens
I use time machine to backup the 2TB internal SSD on my 2018 Mini and also a 2TB external SSD to 5TB network drive. I don't know how I could "show you an example". AFAIK it is automatic and time machine just backs up everything.

It's easy enough to try this yourself, plug in your external disks and select the one you want to use for time machine. In the time machine preferences, click the Options button. This will show everything that time machine is not backing up. As long as your other external drive is not on that list, it will be backed up. If (for some reason) the external drive is on the list, remove it. But I don't think that will be necessary. Then, a little later, enter time machine and you can confirm that the external disk is being backed up. It's really that simple.

You have asked so many questions for so long and they have all been answered. That's fine, people are here to help. But at some point, you just have to stop worrying and "do it". :)
 

Boyd01

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Feb 21, 2012
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FWIW, that video is 7 years old and back then time machine automatically excluded external hard drives as the default. Am pretty sure that changed a number of years ago and now the default is to automatically backup external drives. At least, I don't recall having to do anything in order to backup my external SSD when I setup a new Mac last summer.

Regardless, you can easily check by clicking the options button.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
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For backing up an EXTERNAL drive to another external drive, you'd be far better off using either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.

Either one will produce AN EXACT COPY of the source drive to the backup drive.

For all practical purposes, you won't be able to tell them apart when mounted on the desktop, other than by their names.
 

Mr_Brightside_@

macrumors 68040
Sep 23, 2005
3,632
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Toronto
For backing up an EXTERNAL drive to another external drive, you'd be far better off using either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.

Either one will produce AN EXACT COPY of the source drive to the backup drive.

For all practical purposes, you won't be able to tell them apart when mounted on the desktop, other than by their names.
Oh you're in for it now
 

Boyd01

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Feb 21, 2012
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Different tools for different purposes - IMO you need both and that still isn't enough, I also have Backblaze. But time machine has been really helpful for files where I frequently save changes as I work. Just the other day I was troubleshooting some code and was able to easily step through different versions with time machine to find the problems.
 
Last edited:

R.T.J.

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Jun 3, 2021
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Thank you for your reply TiggrToo!

Can you show me an example of Time Machine being used in the way I want?

EDIT: By the way, I'm aware that it's possible to get a 2TB internal HDD for the Mac Mini M1, but it's just too much money... so I thought buying external USB HDD's and connecting them to the Mac Mini M1's USB ports would be a better way to go!

Get a Mac Mini with 1TB internal drive. Have your applications and related files in that machine and have everything else external. If you plan to use the external drive all the time, it makes no sense to have a fast computer.

I work in video, when I finish a project and move it to an external drive and keep my computer clean. It works just fine, especially the download folder. If you get a 256GB drive, you would be making backups all the time, a nightmare, having a bunch of external discs all over.
 

TiggrToo

macrumors 601
Aug 24, 2017
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Out there...way out there
For backing up an EXTERNAL drive to another external drive, you'd be far better off using either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.

Either one will produce AN EXACT COPY of the source drive to the backup drive.

For all practical purposes, you won't be able to tell them apart when mounted on the desktop, other than by their names.
Time Machine does have the advantage of being 100% free and but into the Mac so when it comes time to rebuild, it's usable without taking extra steps.
 
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Tagbert

macrumors 68030
Jun 22, 2011
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For backing up an EXTERNAL drive to another external drive, you'd be far better off using either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.

Either one will produce AN EXACT COPY of the source drive to the backup drive.

For all practical purposes, you won't be able to tell them apart when mounted on the desktop, other than by their names.
CCC is fine for a single snapshot, but what TimeMachine gives you is an automatic ongoing record of all changes. You can go back and restore a specific file from a specific date as well as restoring the whole bunch.
 

BeautifulWoman_1984

Contributor
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
451
58
Thank you for all your replies!

One other big question I had with Time Machine was if it's accessible by a non-Mac computer?

Let's say my Mac Mini's internal 500GB HDD has been backed up to an external USB HDD using Time Machine and the Mac Mini dies: Is it possible to access these files with a Windows 10 PC???
 

DaveFromCampbelltown

macrumors 6502a
Jun 24, 2020
874
1,429
Thank you for all your replies!

One other big question I had with Time Machine was if it's accessible by a non-Mac computer?

Let's say my Mac Mini's internal 500GB HDD has been backed up to an external USB HDD using Time Machine and the Mac Mini dies: Is it possible to access these files with a Windows 10 PC???

No. It is almost certain your backup drive/volume will be formatted as APFS, and you can't read those on a Windows machine.
OTOH, were you to use a system like Carbon Copy Cloner to back up to a Shared Volume on your network, you could read those files.

I do both.

I use Time Machine to make a current copy of my working drive, that I can restore to a Mac if I need. All my documents, Library folder settings, Applications, and all the rest of the Unix file structure you need to make a working Mac.

I use CCC to make an archive of personal documents, photos and the like on a Shared Drive that I can access from any type of computer. Remembering that some types of document, like your Photos Library, can only be read by the Apple Photos program. Because of this I have also exported all the photos in my Photos Library so they can be read by any other program.

I have learnt from experience that a little pre-emptive paranoia goes a long way.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
24,964
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OP wrote:
"Let's say my Mac Mini's internal 500GB HDD has been backed up to an external USB HDD using Time Machine and the Mac Mini dies: Is it possible to access these files with a Windows 10 PC???"

I don't use tm, but I believe the answer is an absolute "no".
(I'm wondering if there is any way to mount an APFS disk on a Windows computer? I sense not..)

If you want a good backup, I recommend CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.
 

Tagbert

macrumors 68030
Jun 22, 2011
2,877
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Seattle
You might want to consider subscribing to Backblaze. This is a cloud-base backup service. I use it as a secondary backup while also using TM for local backups.
  • It would allow you to restore file backups to any computer.
  • It gives you an offsite backup to protect against catastrophic event.
It is only $6/month per computer. You can use their web interface to restore files. If you need to restore all your files, they will send you, overnight, the files on a hard drive for around $100. Their software is stable and doesn't impact performance. It does take a while for the initial full back.
 

Boyd01

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Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
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New Jersey Pine Barrens
Have had Backblaze for several years and they are great. Had a failing external drive on my Windows PC last year and was able to salvage files with their web interface. However, what some people don't understand is that Backblaze only backs up your user files (documents, photos, video, etc). It does not backup the operating system or any of your software. So, it's nothing like having a clone or time machine backup. You would need to install the operating system and all of your software, then use Backblaze to restore your user files.
 

allan.nyholm

Contributor
Nov 22, 2007
2,135
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Aalborg, Denmark
@Fishrrman there is a way to mount APFS drives on a Windows computer; using Paragon's APFS for Windows
Not currently for drives formatted using APFS using Big Sur, but it's on its way they state

If mounting an APFS formatted Time Machine drive on Windows is anything like when mounted on macOS Catalina or Mojave, then the backup archives are hidden at first sight and the only available visible backup is the very latest(in my experience of having gone back and forth between macOS')
From their website
New! Supports APFS volumes created in macOS 10.15 Catalina
 
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