Time Machine - Which External Hard Drive

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by DraconisV, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. DraconisV macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2008
    Hello everyone,

    I have a 2011 13' Macbook Air (with 128gb flash storage). I also have a 500gb external hard drive, which is the size of a brick.

    I would like to backup all of my files on my laptop onto an external hard drive using the time machine application. Though I would also like this external hard drive to be extra storage.
    So part back-up, part extra storage (as I have over 150gb of other files that don't fit on my mac).

    I'm thinking for a new hard drive it will need to be 1gb minimum, I would like one that doesn't need its own power supply. I guess it would plug into the existing USB2.0, I don't know if I could use the thunderbolt to transfer faster.

    Would anyone be able to help me here? Thank you.


    P.S. Are these drives and time machine able to backup my dropbox folder. I currently use dropbox to back up all my PhD files.
  2. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009

    The problem with a single device being used for part backup and extra file storage is that the extra file storage on that drive doesn't get backed up. If you don't want to lose that other 150gb of files you may want to consider two devices.

    As far as thunderbolt, you really don't get speed advantage unless you go SSD. Then an external portable drive can get pretty pricey. If $$ is no object then you'll enjoy the transfer speeds.
  3. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    This WD My Passport is a nice setup for what you described. Just pick the size you want. You can partition the drive into two partitions.. one for your TM backup and the other for data storage. Just be aware that the data you store on that partition is not backed up anywhere.

    Time Machine does backup the local Dropbox folder.
  4. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    If I understand you correctly (and I'm not sure I do), you want to back up about 128 GB from your MacBook Air plus 150 GB from your existing external 500 GB hard drive, to a new external drive?

    So that would be about 378 GB of data currently, but 628 GB possible, once the two drives are nearly filled up. For that, I'd probably get a 1 TB drive, dedicated only to backups. This would allow your data amount to grow, and allow at least several months' backup history to be kept, so to you could restore files (or versions of files) that had long been deleted.

    Time Machine is great -- I recommend it. But remember that in the above setup, backups will happen only when the (new) backup drive is directly connected to your Air (probably via USB). Also, files on the 500 GB external will be backed up only when it is connected to the Air, too. Do you move your Air around much? If so, plugging/unplugging could become tedious, or worse, forgotten.

    Weaselboy: Are you sure about TM not backing up Dropbox files? Assuming the Dropbox folder is on one of the backed up drives (it's usually in ~/Dropbox on the boot drive), shouldn't it get backed up? I just went into my TM "star wars" interface and it seems to have backup copies of my Dropbox folder. (I'm running Snow Leopard 10.6.8)
  5. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I think you misread my post. I said TM does backup Dropbox local files.
  6. ozaz macrumors 65816

    Feb 27, 2011
    As mentioned already, if your external drive is going to contain 150gb of files that will not be on your mac, you really need 2 external drives to ensure you have two copies of everything.

    Ext drive 1: Connect to mac for time machine backups and to access your external-drive-only files

    Ext drive 2: Periodically clone external drive 1 to external drive 2 (e.g. using carbon copy cloner or superduper, or other software that might come with the drive). Ideally you would store external drive 2 offsite (e.g. at work or at a friend's house) to protect yourself from home disaster (e.g. fire).

    Each of your external drives should be at least 1TB (go for 2TB if you can afford it). They could both be USB drives (e.g. WD My Passports) or Ext drive 1 could be a NAS device. I have no experience with Thunderbolt so won't comment on that.

    Time machine backs up everything on your mac unless you explicitly exclude things. So yes, it backs up your dropbox folder.
  7. DraconisV thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2008
    Thank you everyone for your replies. They have been very useful.

    Those SSD Thunderbolt storage devices do seem awesome, though the prices are a little rich for me.

    I'm thinking of going for the WD My Passport for Mac (2TB). For AUD$219.

    This will give me plenty of storage both in the separate back-up and extra-storage partitions.

    I liked your comment about double back-up ozaz. I will start with one drive initially and may upgrade to another, which could act as a clone (to be stored at another site).

    Thank you everyone :)

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