Time Machine backup external hard drives?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by adamvk, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. adamvk macrumors 65816


    Oct 29, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    I'm thinking of switching to a 13" Macbook Air.

    The problem is, I am a photographer, and therefore have a massive photo/video library.

    Currently my Macbook Pro has a 750GB HDD AND a 120GB SSD both inside (I took out my optical drive), so it's not an issue.

    So if this were to work, I'd need to keep them on an external hard drive.

    However will Time Machine backup my external hard drive as well?

    Or does anyone have any other suggestions for how to make a setup like this work?

    Thank you very much!!!
  2. adamvk thread starter macrumors 65816


    Oct 29, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
  3. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    TM will backup external HDDs as long as they are formatted as "Mac OS Extended (HFS+)" and not excluded from the Exclude List in System Preferences > Time Machine > Options.

    Time Machine FAQ

    I have one 500 GB HDD for my photographs (digital and analog) libraries and editing documents, one 500 GB HDD with my personal video footage in an editing friendly format.
    Both 500 GB HDDs get backed up to one 1 TB HDD via CarbonCopyCloner.
    And that 1 TB HDD gets backed up to another 1 TB HDD via CarbonCopyCloner.
    Therefore I have three copies of my important data.
  4. kaelell macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2009
    to the OP , Im in a similar position now and came across this post. just wondering how you go on with this set up?

  5. Orlandoech macrumors 68040


    Jun 2, 2011
    Salt Lake City, UT
    TimeMachine will backup anything, any drive, including externals and thumb drives as long as they are not in the Exclusion list on the TimeMachine options.
  6. AppleNewton macrumors 68000


    Apr 3, 2007
    1 Finite Place
    Open up Time Machine preferences from the System Preferences or Menu icon.

    and make sure HDD is plugged in, click on Options and if its in the exclusion list, simply select the drive and click the '-' icon to remove it and it will back it up.
  7. tfitzsimons macrumors member

    Feb 10, 2008
    How about restoring just the computer

    Hi all,

    I am also a photographer and my laptop was stolen in London.

    I am getting a new one today but I am facing a conundrum:

    My old macbook air and external hard drive (which contained the majority of my photos) were both backed up to a 1TB external hard drive on time machine.

    But only the macbook was stolen. Does anyone know if I must have my external hard drive connected when I restore my mac from time machine? Or does it differentiate between the two? I feel like it would be unnecessary (and slow) to back up both. Plus the chance for failure is higher, since there's no reason for me to completely wipe my external hard drive just to restore all the data that is already on it...


  8. PatriotInvasion macrumors 68000


    Jul 18, 2010
    Boston, MA
    I tried this set up with an external HDD connected to my 128GB rMBP. Unfortunately, Time Machine attempts to backup my ENTIRE external drive every time it's connected to my Mac.

    This seems to happen because the most recent backup happened when the external HDD was not attached, so Time Machine apparently thinks the external is "new" every time. Like, Time Machine doesn't remember it backed up the external a few days ago! How can I fix this???
  9. emmapoe macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2013
    What to Do if My External Hard Drive is in the Time Machine Excluded List?

    I saw earlier that someone said that you can back up an external hard drive to Time Machine as long as it's not in the excluded list. Unfortunately, my external hard drive is in the excluded list and I have tons of irreplaceable files on it already so therefore can't wipe it and reformat it (I think). I tried to remove it from the exclusion list with no luck: the minus link is grayed out for it. Any suggestions?
  10. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Open Disk Utility and check what format the external drive is in. It will need to be Mac OS Extended for TM to back it up. Sounds like maybe your external is in some other format.
  11. densonsmith macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2016
    To play it safe with your critical files I would:
    • invest in another external drive
    • format it to "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
    • copy the entire external drive to it.
    • make sure it is not in the "excluded" list from Time Machine
    • make a backup with Time Machine
    • enter time machine and make sure the files are there!!!!
    • take the old drive to a safe deposit box or a friend's house to store it
    One backup is not enough. I just had my backup drive fail...fortunately I keep two!

Share This Page