Time Machine drive purchase - How big does it really need to be?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by PeterM11, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. PeterM11 macrumors member

    Mar 28, 2009
    Hi, I've found a thread or two about this before but I never really found the advice I was looking for and now that I'm really considering it I figured I should just make a thread myself.

    So recently my MacBook Pro (2009) was sent in for repair and they unexpectedly said they needed to replace my Hard Drive. I had no backup whatsoever. I managed to salvage most of my data and files from other locations but it really messed me up. I'm glad they replaced the drive, just wish they didn't need to.

    Anyway, this got me thinking I really should go ahead and get a Time Machine dedicated drive. I think I'd like to get a network compatible device but don't really want to have to pay the premium for Apple's Time Capsule. I was considering a Seagate drive. I found that I could get a dock that makes a FreeAgent Go a network drive and I could get a FreeAgent Go drive with up to 640GB of storage.

    I currently have a 160GB internal hard drive but the next time I get a new computer I'm almost sure I'll get one with 250GB of storage so I'd like to base it off the latter.

    I don't so much want to use it for.... well, it's actual intent. I understand that the cool feature of Time Machine is that it has multiple backups and lets you go back in your digital time line and restore. I don't so much need this. It'd be nice to have a few to go back through just in case but for the most part I really just want to use it to have a backup of all of my data in case something happens to my drive again or I decide to move to a new computer and could use it to restore my data.

    So if I were to have a 250GB drive to back up using Time Machine to a 640GB external drive, would this be enough storage space? Do I really need the 1TB or is that just for people who want to be able to go back months and months in time?

    Thanks for any and all help!!
  2. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    What you've outlined should be fine. However, buy as big as you can afford as it certainly won't hurt to have extra space.

    Is it possible that your storage needs will change in the near future?


    'How big does it really need to be?'

    That's what he said?
  3. PeterM11 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 28, 2009
    I don't think they would change.
    I plan on getting this for only backing up my computer really. Like I said, the biggest change would be if I upgraded to a 250GB internal drive sometime.

    I don't normally use external drives very much as is so I don't see myself needing to use it for anything else other than the Time Machine backups and if I were to need more space for say, a media drive to store movies or show episodes, I would most likely get a separate drive for that by itself. I like to be very organized with my digital needs and therefor would probably want to have a dedicated media drive separate from all other things and a dedicated back up drive. A little OCD maybe, but that's how I function. :)
  4. dissolve macrumors 6502a

    Aug 23, 2009
    640GB should be plenty. The rule of thumb I've heard is to go at least twice the size of your hard drive. Your idea will work fine, especially since you won't be looking to store months of backups.
  5. jacksonkeller macrumors member

    Dec 7, 2009
    I have a 640gb seagate free agent go for mac, only difference is firewire800 and comes pre-formatted for mac, for just over a year. I use it just the way it sounds like you are going to, a just in case back up. I've had no problems with it. It runs silently and cool. If your using as just a back up then a drive with usb only will be fine. Take a look at seagates online store. They often have closeouts for good prices. Or take a look at amazon for a transcend store-jet. I have one of those too, run about 75-90 bucks. They are formatted for pc, but its easy to change, and they also run quiet and cool. good luck.
  6. js81 macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    I have a 500GB drive in my MBP - 420GB OS X partition. I bought a 1TB backup drive and started using it right after I bought my new i7 a month ago. I currently have 327GB used on my internal, 490GB used on my 1TB backup. It'll go faster than you think, but all you really lose is the older backups.

    I agree with the others; get at least twice the size of your internal and you'll be fine.
  7. Mr Kram macrumors 68020

    Mr Kram

    Oct 1, 2008
    double the size is usually sufficient for months of backups.
  8. PeterM11 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 28, 2009
    Awesome! Sounds like my plan will work perfectly!

    Thanks a lot everyone and extra thanks for the quickness! :)
  9. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Well, that's what everyone keeps telling: Backup drive is the most important thing to have. It's not a question _whether_ your hard drive will break down, the question is _when_.

    That said, go to the nearest super market, buy any old 1 TB USB hard drive, and that's it. The simpler your setup, the more likely that it will work when you have to rely on it. And 1 TB is now at the point where buying something smaller and cheaper is pointless.
  10. willieva macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2010
    You might want to consider something like superduper. It makes a bootable backup on an external drive. Since you seem to be mostly concerned about losing everything,as opposed to being able to find a file that got removed a week ago, having a bootable backup is nice. You can boot on another computer if you have serious hardware problems. And it is a mac filesystem, so recovering files can be done however you want, as opposed to having to use time machine to get things back.
  11. js81 macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    Time Machine keeps backups, too, and you don't HAVE to use the Time Machine program to find the files (though, admittedly, it does make things a LOT easier). I recommend a LARGE backup drive so that it'll keep your old versions for a long time, not just "a week ago." Time Machine is a no-brainer; SuperDuper, while awesome for what it does, requires at least a little effort. Personally, I recommend both - a regular TM backup, and an occasional (once a month, maybe?) SD backup.
  12. MacHamster68 macrumors 68040


    Sep 17, 2009
    even a 320 HDD should be sufficient for backups from a 250gb HDD, but more is always better

    and time machine backup is a great idea or any other form of backup like with super duper or carbon copy cloner , but always keep in mind that even external HDD's fail from time to time , so really IMPORTANT stuff keep on cd/dvd backups on top of the time machine backups , ok its unlikely that both the internal and the time machine backup external fail at the same time ,but better safe then sorry , always expect the unexpected ;)

    i prefer tu use carbon copy cloner , and no external exclosure but a simple docking station so i just do a bootable copy of the entire system once all files and whatever is on the system once everything is setup and working so i can just swap the drives if i need to , with time machine i do just regular backups , but always important files on dvd too

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