Time Machine - back up external USB drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by boombass, Apr 20, 2013.

  1. boombass macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2008
    Can I use Time Machine to back up an external USB drive in addition to my Mac's internal hard drive?

    Suppose I have a MacBook with a smallish SSD drive, so I attach an external USB drive to store things like my iPhoto database or iTunes folder. Can I use Time Machine to back up this external USB drive to a second external USB drive? One that already backs up the computer?

    I've been trying it with a USB flash drive. I've got a 1 TB external HDD backing up my MacBook's internal 500 GB drive, and I tried to make it back up the USB flash drive as well. There is plenty of space on the Time Machine drive. In Time Machine Preferences, the USB flash drive is excluded from backups, but I am able to delete it. Problem is, it becomes excluded again whenever I open the Options pane—it doesn't stay excluded.

    So, can this be done? What am I doing wrong? Is it because it is a flash drive I'm trying to back up? Would an HDD work? Any ideas?

  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    You should be able to back up an external USB drive.

    As for the USB flash drive, what file system is on it? It may not be one that is compatible with Time Machine.
  3. boombass thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2008
    Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

    It's weird because I can take it off the exclusion list, but then it comes back on when I open the list again.

    Later I will try with a few external HDDs to see if that is the issue.
  4. derek macrumors newbie


    Aug 3, 2001
    Syracuse, NY
    10.9.2 Time Machine Is Still Flash Drive Incompatible

    I recently did some testing on 10.9.2 with a Disk Utility formatted 32 GB flash drive and Time Machine. The results were consistent: ERRORS when attempting to back up.

    It turns out to be this simple: Time Machine is incompatible with flash drives. It has always been so. Apple has not allowed it to be otherwise. I've read bogus articles claiming otherwise, but they turned out to be: Bogus. The author never even bothered to try it himself.

    Meanwhile, if you want to use an SSD with Time Machine, it has to be specifically designated in its specs to work with Time Machine. La Cie offer such a drive and state up front that it is Time Machine compatible. If you don't see that designation for any flash drive, including an SSD drive, count on it NOT working with Time Machine.

    I'll be suggesting to Apple that they change their policy/programming regarding flash drives and Time Machine and see what they have to say. Meanwhile: You can't get there from here. That continues to be the state of affairs for flash drives. :(
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Why not just "dupe" the USB external drive by using either CarbonCopyCloner (the free version should work fine), or SuperDuper?

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