Some back up drive questions


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 3, 2010
Some basic questions:

1) When I plug in an external portable hard disk permanently to the com USB port, does it make the portable drive spin constantly? Will it be better that I remove it and only connect it again when I like to back up something to prolong the disk life?
2) I have another port that connects to another external hard disk as Time Machine. Can I configure the interval of backup of Time Machine? I'm not able to find the setting where I can over ride and set my prefered interval. If it back up constantly, isn't it will wear off the drive very quickly?

Tks for advise


macrumors 65816
Jul 30, 2009
Most USB drives have an energy saving capability to stop spinning drives when not in use. It is simple enough to eject external drives when you are not using them which would presumably save even more power. But then you have to use Disk Utility, or replug the device to have access again.

Time Machine, by default runs hourly. While this results in minimal time to do each incremental backup, if your Mac is lower powered, you might experience a little slowdown. Years ago, I downloaded Time Machine Editor which allows you to schedule backups at various intervals. I set this up 6+ years ago, and aside from a couple of updates, have not touched it in years and it keeps on ticking through several reloads of the OS, updates, migrations to new Macs, etc. Drives are pretty resilient to regular use, I suppose a daily backup rather than hourly might have a minimally positive impact on the life of the drive, but at the risk of losing some work from that day in the event of a hard drive failure.

For the best protection, using multiple backup schemes is advisable. If you use iCloud Drive, iCloud Keychain, Photos, Apple Music\Match, etc, then the bulk of your stuff will be backed up to the cloud and need not be backed up to Time Machine. That means, TM will mostly be backing up settings which won't change too much and won't be as critical to backup hourly. Same is true for OneDrive, Dropbox, etc which can be excluded from TM as they are already syncing to cloud services with outstanding resiliency records.


macrumors 68030
Mar 10, 2016
HDDs are very cheap, and the lifespan is very long. There's no need to be concerned about the putting wear on the drive.