Partitioning a 4TB HDD for Time Machine HFS+, APFS, and NTFS

Discussion in 'macOS' started by RedTomato, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. RedTomato, Feb 23, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018

    RedTomato macrumors 601

    RedTomato

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    .. London ..
    #1
    I have iCloud 2TB and love it. (EDITs for clarification: Everything is backed up to iCloud - several macs, iDevices and a large shared Photos library.)

    However I don't trust iCloud 100%. I want a local backup of Photos Library.

    I plan to get a second HDD, a 4TB 2.5" model, connect it to my mini and partition it like this:

    2TB for a local copy of iPhotos Library from all my family's macs & iDevices - using the iCloud Photos "download originals to this Mac" option - this will be in APFS.
    1TB for Time Machine for my family's macs. This will have to be in HFS+ until Apple revamps or drops TM.
    1TB for Windows files - Steam games / movies - this will be in NTFS.

    Am I right that all I need to do is format and partition the HDD in Disk Utility in GUID, and format the NTFS partition in Windows, and all should be fine?

    I'll probably want to tweak the partitions in a year or so, should I have the NTFS (or HFS+) partition first or last in order to be able to non-destructively repartition the drive?

    EDIT : Just to be clear, this is a second-level backup as insurance against iCloud going down, and also a place to put large downloaded files, nothing irreplaceable.
     
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #2
    I WOULD NOT "cross-format" a drive (i.e., partition it with both Mac and Windows partitions) that is intended to store data that is precious to me. No way.

    Just wondering, how large is the Mac's INTERNAL drive?

    If it's 4tb or less, the best way to "keep a finder-accessible copy of everything" would be to use a cloning app such as CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to create a bootable cloned backup of your internal drive.

    It's BETTER THAN a TM backup because it's "BOOTABE to the finder", and you have a finder-mountable drive (that will take care of having an instantly-accessible copy of your iPhoto library).

    I suggest you try this first.
    If you don't like it, just erase it start over.
    Both CCC and SD are FREE to download and try for 30 days.

    Again, I -would not- "cross-format" ANY drive that is intended to hold stuff that you consider important.
     
  3. RedTomato thread starter macrumors 601

    RedTomato

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    .. London ..
    #3
    Heya thanks for getting back to me.

    I think I wasn't clear. I have added a clarification to my original post.

    1. This is intended to hold backups for multiple macs / iDevices. So running a clone won't work.
    2. This will be a second-level backup. All the macs / iDevices / photos are already backed up on iCloud. I don't trust iCloud 100% so this is intended to be a local copy of all iCloud / Photos files. If the drive falls over, everything can be re-downloaded, it'll just take a while.
    3. The Windows partition will be just for Steam games / movies, so again, nothing irreplaceable.
     
  4. hwojtek macrumors 65816

    hwojtek

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Poznan, Poland
    #4
    Photos are backed up with Time Machine anyway, so why bother sending them back and forth when they're backed up with TM? They would end up very same physical disk, which means this gives no additional protection against any hardware malfunction.

    Setting up a drive with three different filesystems is asking for trouble.

    This would make some sense if you had an external enclosure and put separate HDDs each formatted to your liking, however given the Photos are backed with TM, it only calls for a big TM drive and a smaller one for your Windows files. Seeing you're using a Mini, you have space for a single 2.5" drive so I suggest you put it in there and use exclusively for TM for all your family computers, while an off-the-shelf, el-cheapo USB3 1TB drive will do for Windows files.
     
  5. RedTomato thread starter macrumors 601

    RedTomato

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    .. London ..
    #5
    No they're not. Only if a Photos library is small enough to fit entirely on the mac's disk. For our Macbook Airs with small SSD drives, we went way past that point some time ago. Many of our photos only exist in iCloud, hence the need for this big drive strapped to a computer somewhere to download all the originals as a backup. This is what Apple recommends themselves as a backup for iCloud Photos Library.

    Fully agree, that's why I'm asking for advice.
    I might have to go that route yes. However, I'd still need to partition the internal drive - one for TM in HFS+, and one for the Photos Library in APFS. Otherwise the TM part will fill up the whole HDD over time. It does seem that the parts of the iPhotos library that are physically on each mac will be duplicated in each partition.

    Sucks but that's the way Apple's set up iCloud & TM. I wish they'd revamp TM, but they appear to be on the way to dropping TM entirely, as they've never bothered to allow it to backup iDevices.
     
  6. hwojtek macrumors 65816

    hwojtek

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Poznan, Poland
    #6
    Oh, I didn't ever think about using iCloud storage as the main one for my photos, as they're downgraded quality-wise on iCloud IIRC? In your scenario yes, you are going to need a backup.
    Anyway - I still wouldn't bother with partitioning the big internal drive into two filesystems. Less prone to failure, same performance (especially since APFS is AFAIK not yet officialy supported on traditional drives, SSDs only)? Just make it a two 2TB HFS+ drive and you're good to go.
     
  7. RedTomato thread starter macrumors 601

    RedTomato

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    .. London ..
    #7
    Yes, iCloud Photo Library supports full res and has done for a few years now. Yes APFS is officially supported on HDDs. However third parties say APFS is very much *not recommended* for boot HDDs or editing HDDs until it is more mature. Photos Library is a massive database and we rarely copy files or edit so it would benefit from APFS's more modern protections.

    I was able to borrow a spare 320GB 2.5" HDD and do some playing around in OSX Disk Utility (on High Sierra). I wanted to see what was possible in the native GUI without going to GParted or Partition Magic / Partition Wizard.

    - Formatted entire drive in GUID / AFPS / single partition to lay down a base.
    - Then created three partitions, one for each filesystem.

    Notes:

    - First partition can't be erased at a later date. I made this one APFS. Can be resized in Disk Utility.*
    - Second partition I made HFS+. Can be resized. *
    - Third partition I made ExFat. Can't be resized. Will replace with NTFS in Windows.

    * Both APFS and HFS+ partitions can be shrunk or expanded but expansion can *only be into free, unpartitioned space* and the starting point of each partition can't be moved. If I want to expand a partition in Disk Utility, I need to destructively delete the next partition, expand the first partition into the new free space, then recreate the smaller second partition.

    I think the HFS+ & Time Machine combo is on the way out, so I assigned it to the second partition. When Apple makes a move, I can then delete the HFS+ partition for whatever TM's successor is.

    I attached the drive to a Windows 10 box, and it saw the ExFat partition no problem. Win 10 Disk Manager showed all the partitions, and reformatted the ExFat partition to NTFS no problem. Plugging the disk back into OSX showed all fine too.

    I think it's a go on this one.
     
  8. hwojtek macrumors 65816

    hwojtek

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Poznan, Poland
    #8
    Wow, cunning research, glad you took one for the team and spent a couple of hours looking into it.
     

Share This Page

7 February 23, 2018