Time machine: USB stick, SSD, or HDD?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Lorenzo F, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. Lorenzo F macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #1
    I have a 2015 15" Macbook Pro that I'd like to backup using Time Machine. Do you recommend using a USB stick, SSD, or HDD?

    I plan to plug in the drive at least once a month to backup, and I'm willing to spend a little more money if the advantages are worth it in the long-term.
     
  2. KALLT macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
    #2
    A month’s worth of backups will take some time, depending on how much data you will be backing up. I would therefore advise against a thumb drive, because they are generally much slower. The rest is up to you. If you are only using the disk for backups, then an HDD is a lot cheaper and having a big backup disk will allow you to keep a long history.
     
  3. Michael Anthony macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Location:
    Australia
    #3
    I'd go with a mechanical hard disk. More storage per dollar, doesn't need to work at maximum speed so the cost of an SSD is wasted. A thumb drive (most) use slower flash storage, and are limitied by the speed of your USB bus, and then some.
     
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #4
    Another suggestion:

    Try doing a "cloned backup" using either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.
    I prefer CCC because it can clone the recovery partition, as well.

    CCC is FREE to download, and FREE to use for the first 30 days.
    SD will create a "full clone" (not "incremental") forever without registering.

    You might find a cloned backup more useful to have around. Particularly when traveling with a laptop, it provides an IMMEDIATE "secondary boot source" if you get into an "I can't boot!" moment with the internal drive.

    Even with TM, it's still handy to have a fully-bootable backup around.
     
  5. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    Location:
    Between the coasts
    #5
    Why would you only backup monthly? Part of the point of Time Machine is to leave the backup drive connected (whenever practical) and let it automatically backup every hour.

    The fundamental problem with unscheduled backups (such as connecting the backup drive once a month) is that people don't get around to doing them. If you have a portable lifestyle, it's easier to get into the habit of connecting the drive every day when you get home than it is to remember to do that once a month.

    There's no reason to use anything but a HDD - the backups are made in the background, so speed hardly matters. The only time you might appreciate the speed of an SSD would be when making the initial backup (which again, runs in background anyway), restoring the entire machine from the backup, or using the backup to migrate to a new machine.

    A backup drive should be 2-3 times the size of the drive that's being backed up - Time Machine archives older versions of files and deleted files so that you can go back and recover them if necessary (you'd need similar with CCC, if you were doing incremental backups and/or saving an older full backup). At the cost of SSD, why would you spend more on your backup drive than you spent on the primary SSD?
     
  6. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2015
    #6
    OP: If your data is important you might want to consider doing Time Machine backup to one hard drive and Clone to a separate drive.

    Doing so will minimise the change of data loss. Disk Utility will be sufficient for occasional cloning even if using El Capitan with its pathetic version of Disk Utility...

    SSD is a waste of money, hard drive is sufficient for backup purposes.
     
  7. Lorenzo F thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #7
    Thanks for all the responses. Sounds like a HDD is what I need to get.

    The reason I plan to backup monthly is that I am constantly on the go. During the weekdays I am not home at all, and even on those weekdays I am not in one place necessarily. I suppose I could get a portable HDD and plug it in when I can.

    But I do come home almost every weekend, and I could plug in the HDD then. Or how about some kind of network drive? It would be nice to come home and have Time Machine backup to the network drive automatically so I don't have to remember to plug in an external drive. Do folks recommend this?
     
  8. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #8
    OP wrote:
    "The reason I plan to backup monthly is that I am constantly on the go. During the weekdays I am not home at all, and even on those weekdays I am not in one place necessarily. I suppose I could get a portable HDD and plug it in when I can."

    If you're traveling with a MacBook, one of the most important items to carry along with you is a FULLY BOOTABLE CLONED BACKUP created with either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.

    What happens if -- away from home -- you suddenly have an "I can't boot!" experience?
    What will you do then?

    IF you have a cloned backup, you could:
    1. Plug it in
    2. Boot from it
    3. Try to diagnose the problem with the internal drive

    Even if you can't get the internal drive healthy again, you STILL HAVE a way to boot and run the MacBook (even if you have to do so with the external drive plugged in).
     
  9. Lorenzo F thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #9
    Got it, Fishrrman. I like that idea, since by having a cloned backup, I'll essentially have a second backup.

    Does it make sense to get a SSD for the cloned backup? Do CarbonCopyCloner and SuperDuper make an entirely new copy every time, or do they only update files that have changed?
     
  10. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Finger Lakes Region
    #10
    The first backup is a whole computer backup. Then in the backup programs you can setup times to do only changed files backups at what times you desire!

    The best computer backup would be a drive that is twice as big as the drive you're backing up. So I feel a larger 7200 HHD for a backup drive!
     
  11. Botts85 macrumors member

    Botts85

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2007
    #11
    I would highly recommend a HDD for backups at home, and a CrashPlan+ or Backblaze subscription.

    You'll want two backups for sure. The most tragic situations are when a TM hard drive dies whilst restoring a Mac that had full data loss.

    CrashPlan Family allows up to 10 Macs to backup unlimited data for $12.50/mth or $150/yr. Crashplan single is $59/yr and allows 1 Mac.
    BackBlaze is $50/yr.
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    OP wrote:
    "Does it make sense to get a SSD for the cloned backup?"

    An SSD can be useful DEPENDING UPON the size of the backup.

    If the source drive isn't overly large or full, an SSD will yield VERY SHORT incremental backup times, and be useful to have around, especially for a laptop computer. I use an SSD for a couple of cloned volumes, myself.

    "Do CarbonCopyCloner and SuperDuper make an entirely new copy every time, or do they only update files that have changed?"

    The FIRST TIME will be a "complete" clone. CCC and SD will clone everything.

    SUBSEQUENT times will be "incremental" backups. Only "changed files" will be copied over.

    Using CCC with smaller-sized volumes, I find that some of my incremental backups are completed within 30 seconds or less.

    Again, this depends on the size of your source volume and upon how much you've added or changed since the last incremental backup.

    I can't recommend CCC highly enough.
    My advice is to try it.
    CCC is FREE to download, and it's FREE to use for the first 30 days.
    That's all that it may take to win you over.
     
  13. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    .. London ..
    #13
    This isn't the 1990s.

    - My various documents folders are all in my Dropbox folder, which gives me off-site replication that I can access via iphone or ipad or any of my other computers.

    - My various email accounts are co-hosted various IMAP servers (eg gmail). If my computer dies, I can access / re-download access email from another computer or ipad or iphone.

    - I finally broke down and paid for an iCloud subscription to back up my photos and video clips.

    - My text messages / contacts / diary / notes / reminders etc are also backed up to iCloud.

    Just about everything else (apps, films, games etc) can be re-downloaded from the internet as needed.

    - If my computer were to vanish this instant, I'd shift over to another computer and continue uninterrupted.

    - If any of these cloud services (IMAP email, Dropbox, iCloud Drive etc) were to vanish suddenly, I still have my local copy and can re-upload to a different cloud server.

    Finally, I have a rather ancient Time Capsule that does local backups every hour. But I am becoming increasingly resigned to Apple's neglect of Time Machine / Time Capsule. It doesn't back up iOS devices, and it doesn't back up photos from these devices. Making a duplicate of the Time Capsule backup takes forever via the USB 2.0 port on it.
     
  14. Lorenzo F thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #14
    I almost considered *not* doing any backups because my most prized documents are already on iCloud. But after reading all of your posts, I see the value of having multiple backups and a bootable cloned backup.

    Thanks again for all your help, everybody. This is a great community!
     

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