What type of external hard drive is best?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Mac.Virgin101, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. Mac.Virgin101 macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2010
    I am BRAND NEW to a Mac and after my PC was stolen with ALL of my pictures, music, videos, documents, I've finally learned my lesson and want to back up my data. I'm looking for something I can use as external storage as well as a backup with Time Machine (although I have no clue how to use Time Machine!!)

    However, I have no idea where to start. The Mac Time Capsule is quite pricey and I'm still recovering from the price of the MacBook (vs. a PC). Can anyone help with what I should be looking for when I browse stores and price out non-Mac hard drives?

    Please try to avoid acronyms in responses. My computer knowledge is not huge and my Mac knowledge is even less. Honestly I was reading another post earlier and it took me an hour to find "Disc Utility"....and even then I have no clue what to do with it. :eek:

    Oh and I'm in Canada so I'm looking for something I can pick up here, in order to save on shipping, time, etc

    Thanks in advance for your help!!
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    This is NewEgg.ca topseller with best rating so it should be good. I'm sure you can find similar one in store too.

    Time Machine is VERY easy to work, just plug in the drive, open TM and select it as backup volume and click OK, and diddum, it's DONE!
  3. Paulywauly macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009
    Durham, UK
    If you are wanting to use external storage for your data AND for Time Machine backups you may be better of buying 2 drives (One for time machine other for storage) rather than putting them both on the same drive.
    e.g. rather than buying a large 2TB drive buy 2 1TB ones (1TB is half of 2TB, sorry for acronyms!), should come to about the same price, that way you still have all your precious data on the other if one of them dies on you :)
  4. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6
    I have had great luck with LaCie hard drives. That said, whatever brand hard drive you get, look for something with FireWire 800 - much faster than USB 2.0. Congrats on your new MacBook Pro and switch to Mac.
  5. Kingcodez macrumors 6502


    May 13, 2009
    Don't skimp on the FireWire FW 800 is soooo much faster than USB. It might be a little tough to find a FW drive now but it's worth it. TM backups can take forever.
  6. Dal123 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2008
    Are Iomega Drives any good?

    Jumping in on this topic :eek:, how are Iomega drives? I'm thinking of purchasing this one http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290406729238&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT (and glad firewire was mentioned to go for), a little concerned if 320GB is enough nowadays?:confused:
    I'm a bit confused here; as I know nothing about back-up also. What's different to Time Machine as to storage? Sorry for silly questions :eek:.
  7. Paulywauly macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009
    Durham, UK
    If you have a drive set up with Time Machine basically what this means is that your mac will back up all of your files to that drive, then every hour afterwards it records every change you make to your computer. If you lose any of your files you can easily recovering them by "going back in time" using Time Machine and retrieving them, it requires little to no technical know how either its really that simple to use :D Check out the URL to watch a video of how it works


    If your looking to buy a drive for Time Machine its best to buy one big enough for all of your files, this will be different for everybody but a safe bet is to get one ATLEAST as big as any drives you want to backup combined.
  8. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    If you are using this for backup you should consider a mirrored drive. This is a package with two hard drives setup to look like one drive. If one drive fails the other still has your data.

    I'm not pushing this particular brand in particular but you can see a variety of them here.

    The really nice way to do this is with a Drobo.

    I would think that for TM you should have a larger drive than the one you are backing up. So for a 500GB drive a 1TB drive would be good.

    Of course, the mirror setup is more expensive. It depends how valuable your data is.

    TM backs up everything, the OS, the applications, files of deleted email, and your important tax documents and photos. Maybe you just need two smaller hard drives to redundantly back up just your user folder. Do a Get Info on that folder and find the size to get a feel for your backup needs.
  9. Dal123 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2008
    Thanks for your input on this chaps :). Time Machine sounds very handy. I'm just wondering if it's possible to make a back-up of all my photo's of work (which I want to keep separate as I will delete and then I would like Time Machine to back-up my data on my computer (but I will not have photo's on my computer as they slow it down too much).
    Or would Time Machine see that I have stuff on my hard-drive (photo's of construction business) and then delete them :eek:.
  10. illy123 macrumors member

    Jan 1, 2010
    After your external hard drive becomes full time machine will start to delete backups starting with the oldest one (however there is an option for it to prompt you before it does so). You can also exclude certain folders from being backup up.

    If you want to store those photos of construction work then it would be best to get another hard drive for them. For example; I have one hard drive (2TB) where I keep my movies (another 2TB which mirrors it) and a 1TB hard drive for my backup. Two hard drives may seem expensive but I guess you realise that the true cost of not backing up properly is much larger than a few hundred bucks.

    I also can't see photos slowing your computer down. My best advice to you would be to get an external hard drive which is 2x the storage of your internal hard drive (if your current hard drive has 500gb get a 1TB one) and then set that as your time machine. And store your construction photos on another hard drive (might also want to get another one in case that one breaks down - always best to have two copies of everything). It would help if you specified how large the data that you plan to backup is (e.g. if your construction photos are less than 1GB then there is no need to get another hard drive).

    You could also make use of Google Photos - which will let you upload 1GB worth of photos to the 'cloud' (for those very important photos that you want to protect from a fire!)


    I realise you haven't specifically asked for this, but some good online, free, 'cloud' backups are:

    Evernote - for your documents (also Google Docs), photos, notes
    Flickr/Google Photos - for your photos
    Dropbox/SpiderOak - for a general backup of your most important files
    Xmarks - backup your bookmarks
    LastPass - backup your browser passwords (+ much more)
    Cloudapp - also gives you room to backup some stuff.

    Not only do they backup your data but they also let you sync it seamlessly with other computers (and if you have a backup setup for them then it gets backed up again!)
  11. Mac.Virgin101 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2010
    Thanks for all the input. I decided on this WD one (only its 500GB)

    I've set it up and it works great with Time Machine and any other storage. Now I have a new question:

    Can I take it to my parents house to take old documents, music, etc off their PC (which used to be mine years ago) and transfer to my Mac? Or will it not work because it is formatted to work with a Mac?

  12. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    It won't work out of the box, since Windows can't read or write HFS+ formatted drives. You can, however, install MacDrive and copy your data to the drive.
  13. Mac.Virgin101 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2010
    OK, and I'd imagine that would be the same for their PC external drive...it wouldn't work for transferring data either (without installing extra programs, etc)?
  14. macwow55 macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010

    I highly recommend getting an external drive from OWC.

    Call them and speak to their technical support. They will point you in the right direction.
  15. Dal123 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2008
    Thanks for posting what drive you bought MacVirgin.
    Ily thanks for your advice there; much appreciated. There must be about 5GB of photo's of construction as I'm constantly photographing the stages of the build in intricate detail. To be honest 3/4 of them are unnecessary but they might come in handy for a certain query of upcoming work.
    I can understand why people recommending getting two drives for safety, but why do you recommend keeping one drive for the photo's and another for documents. Is it that the more data on the drive it gets sloppy.
  16. numbersyx macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2006
    What you can do is take a FAT 32 external drive to your parents place and transfer the docs and then transfer them from the drive to your Mac as it will read from the FAT 32 drive.

Share This Page