New iMac and Simple Tech drive

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jayes, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. jayes macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2011
    Just bought an iMac (which I LOVE!) and am in the process of moving files from my old Windows XP computer. Both computers are available on my network, hardwired.

    Over the course of the last few years, I have manually backed up my photo files to a Simple Tech external hard drive from the XP computer. I was not sure how to move all these photos, but plugged in the Simple Tech drive into the Mac and to my surprise, I could see all my photos, was able to drag them into iPhoto and it was much simpler than I thought it would be.

    However, I can't seem to make it work the other way. Drag a photo from the iMac onto the Simple Tech drive.

    I assume, now, after reading up a bit on formatting, that the Simple Tech drive is formatted for the XP and that is probably why it only goes in one direction. Or is that not the reason and I'm just not doing it right.

    I would like to purchase a WD My Passport for the Mac and wonder if I will be able to drag and drop photos from my Mac back to my Windows computer the same way I could with the Simple Tech drive. I know I can format the Passport Essential for both Windows and Mac, but then will it work with Time Machine?

    Appreciate any thoughts on this, hopefully non techie as I'm still pretty new to this.
  2. MacVibe macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2009
    The simpletech drive is probably formatted NTFS, which OS X can read from, but not write to. If you format it fat, or ex-fat, both Windows and OS X can read and write. If you want to write, from OS X, to a drive that is NTFS, google how to do this as there is a utility which gives this capability to the mac, although I don't know if it is free.
  3. Orlandoech macrumors 68040


    Jun 2, 2011
    Salt Lake City, UT
  4. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    If it is only for storage and moving files back and forth go ex-FAT.
  5. Spike88, Jan 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012

    Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    As a suggestion...

    1st step... I would like to purchase a new WD My Passport (1 TB or more) and connect to my iMac via FW800 port or USB port. FW800 port is much faster than USB port. I would then format this WD drive with Native MacOS format, then configure this external drive with MacOS's included Time Machine feature. If wondering, this is how my iMac's automatic backup configuration is configured. See signature file for details.

    2nd step.... to transfer files back/forth to the XP machine, simply use the existing Simple Tech external hard drive (formateed at ex-fat) and connect to either the iMac or XP machine using USB port. If wondering, this is how I transfer files back and forth. Except, I use a 8 GB USB stick instead. And, it works great.

    Hope this helps..



    To format your USB attached SimpleTech external drive, follow instructions within:

    Hope this helps as well...
  6. jayes thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2011
    By coincidence, I happened upon an Apple store today and queried one of the techs there and he came up with the same suggestions as above.

    1. Purchase an external hard drive to use with Time Machine to back up the iMac. (What is a FW800 port? Is that the port with the lightening bolt? - Do I have to look for a portable drive that supports FW800 or does that option come with all new drives?) He suggested a G-Drive over WD My Passport - not sure why.

    2. Use a thumb drive to move files back and forth between my XP and Mac. He did not mention formatting the Simple Tech but that seems like a great alternative too.

    I watched the video on the youtube link, but it did not mention ex-Fat specifically when reformatting the drive. It said to use the JOURNALING option. Is that the same? Will I still be able to go back and forth between the two OS?

    Thanks all for your input. Very helpful suggestions.
  7. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    FW800 = FireWire 800 port. For a visual, surf entire page at: re: The picture of the many ports on rear of iMac.

    The external WD drive must have FW800 port as well. If you get a WD drive for Macs, it will have USB and FW800 port. Ask the computer store person to confirm the external HDD's ports - before buying. Some of the older technology HDDs only have FW400 ports. Best to get HDD with a FW800 port.

    If WD drive for MacOS, it will be pre-formatted. No need to re-format the WD drive. Simply connect via FW800 port, configure within Time Machine application and watch it work in the background.


    Connect the SimplyTech drive to your iMac via USB port, then launch Disk Utility application. Then, look for ex-FAT listing in the possible "avaible" different formats - for that specific drive.

    Hope this helps as well...
  8. jayes thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2011
    YES! This information was very helpful, a simplified explanation that was easy to understand.

    I looked over the specs for several of the less expensive 500GB drives (WD Passport, G-Tech Slim et al) and none of them had Firewire 800. But did find one at the Apple store, exclusive to their store (G-Technology 500GB G-DRIVE mobile Portable Hard Drive) It was Time Machine ready and had Firewire 800. My iMac has a 500GB drive... is this drive large enough? I just transferred 24,000+ photos from my Windows computer if that means anything. I have no idea how much of the drive this represents.

    Also looked through the disk utility menus and found the ex-FAT option so as soon as I set up the backup drive, I will format the Simple Tech drive to be able to move my files back and forth.

    Again.. appreciate everyone's help.

    Edit: Also found this drive with Firewire 800. Iomega eGo Portable 500 GB Which would be a better choice?
  9. rkaufmann87 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2009
    Folsom, CA
    A Time Machine drive should be 2-3x the size of the amount of data on your internal HD. Considering you have a 500GB HD you should be fine for quite awhile with a 1-2TB EHD. If you don't mind here are three drives I recommend, all have FW800 and if you get multiples you can daisy chain them together.

    Personally I use 4 of the LaCie's however any of the others would be welcome on my desk. These are all extremely high quality EHD's, the LaCie's have been on my desk for 4 1/2 years with no issues at all.
  10. jayes thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2011
    Hmmm... did not know that. I just assumed a backup drive should be the same size as the HD since that is what it is backing up.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I will check them out.
  11. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    Yes. Backup drives should be 3 x Larger (or more).

    For Time Machine backups, it is NOT a single 100% clone of your production drive. Using Time Machine, one can drill down into different backup versions of the changed files. For example…. Let's say your iMac has a physical 500 GB HDD drive and its currently at 300 GBs usage. Let's say Time Machine is configured and it does keep many different versions - of the changed files. Lets assume (for simple math calculation sizing) that 100% of files on your iMac's production drive was changed. So, that 300 GBs of files (re: System, application, data) on the production drive is really 3 x 300 GBs (which is near 1 TB) on the Time Machine's Backup Drive. Thus, one should have have a 1TB backup drive. Yes, one can have a much smaller backup drive. But for calculating size of backup drives, simply take your HDD's current Usage size and multiple by 3. If wondering, I'll get buying a future 2 TB drive (after their selling prices come done). Thus, allowing me lots of Backup Growth. Especially as my production files increase from current 300 GBs to future 500-700 GBs. Say 600 GBs x 3 = estimated 2 TB drive.

    Hope this helps as well….
  12. jayes thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2011
    This is great information. This puts my experience with my old Simple Tech (160GB) drive in perspective. I could never understand why it kept telling me it was out of space when I tried to do a back up when clearly I was not backing up more than 160 GB of information. I finally gave up and just dragged new files to the drive rather than run their Storage Sync software.

    Unfortunately, money is an object in choosing a backup drive. My husband is still reeling over the cost of the iMac which was twice the cost of a similar Windows machine so I'm sure he would not be thrilled that I need a $300 backup drive.

    I used to dabble in DTPing, but now 95% of the files on the Mac are photos which don't change much after the initial red eye fix etc.. If very few of these files ever change, can I get away with a lesser backup drive? Perhaps 750 GB? The few other files would be word processing documents. Not sure where to look to see just how much of the drive I've used thus far. Still learning my way around this computer.
  13. jayes thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2011
    A quick question about ex-FAT vs FAT32. My Windows machine runs XP Sp2 and I don't want to make any changes to the OS because one of my very old programs is doing me a great favor by running on SP2, and probably won't do well under SP3. Can I format the SimpleTech drive to FAT32 instead knowing there is a limitation of 4GB per file. Then I would not have to update drivers on the XP machine. Can the Mac read FAT32?
  14. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    My first iMac backup drive was a little "self power" portable My Passport 2.5" drive. It allowed me some time (to save more dollars) and in the future, I would then use that "portable" drive on my other computers (after I bought a large size 3.5" WD drive). This large size WD drive is stationary, has its own air venting (to keep it cooler) and needs its own power. For my situation, implementing both short term and long term backup solutions was a good strategy. Some folks simply buy the "long term larger size" Backup drive when they buy their iMac. And, they buy this drive locally - often at better price (compared to buying from Apple). For them, "the cost of loosing critical data" is a much higher concern - when compared to NOT buying an attached backup drive. Or, deciding to buy one later...



    Yes. Give it a try. If you do have a file larger then 4 GBs, you can then re-format the drive later. For now, format as Fat32 and "give it a try" on your iMac and on our Win XP box.


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