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I am trying to create a backup 'strategy' for my MacBook Pro (I have important files on Dropbox but want a bootable clone of my entire HD) using Carbon Copy Cloner. However I need an external hard drive to back up to. I don't need it to be ultra portable, or insanely fast (no SSD or Thunderbolt required). Here is what I need in it:

  • USB/Firewire

  • Minimum 500 GB, up to 2-3 GB

  • Cheap (100-200) with no frills

  • Reliable and well built

And that's all! I'm sure a lot of people have these conditions, so your answers can help them too! Thanks in advance, Charlie

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closed as not constructive by bmike, Kyle Cronin Aug 9 '11 at 3:33

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3 Answers 3

I like Western Digital Passport drives a lot. Small, powered from a single USB port and about $90 for a 1TB USB 2.0/3.0 model from Amazon. Heat shouldn't be a problem if you're only using it to make a daily or weekly clone.

Also, I've had better luck with SuperDuper than Carbon Copy Cloner in the past.

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Thanks. That sounds like a good fit. –  artemisc360 Aug 10 '11 at 11:56

If noise is not an issue, get something with a full-size 3.5-inch drive mechanism, an external power supply, a fan, and an aluminum case for better heat dissipation.

One popular brand is the Other World Computing (OWC) Mercury Elite line, which is only sold directly from their Web site.

Professionals in video editing and recording studios often choose the Glyph line, which is sold through many retailers.

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A couple of odds and ends:

DO NOT buy a Segate GoFlex. They have some bug that causes the hard drive to never spin down when idle.

Also, Don't buy a "For Mac" drive. The only difference is that the specifically "For Mac" packages come formatted HFS+. However, reformatting a drive is simple and quick with Disk Utility. The 30 seconds of labor is not worth the premium those drives usually command.


I generally prefer drives from the original manufacturer. It's one less hassle when dealing with warranty issues (if you have them).

Companies like Other-World Computing sell "Premium" drives, which have some additional warranty, but also command a premium cost. For example, a Western Digital 2TB external drive is $109 from Newegg, while a similar 2TB external from OWC (with the same drive, internally), is $149.

Furthermore, I tend to recommend buying external hard-drives locally (Cosco is great for this), since drive problems tend to be immediately apparent, or happen after several years. Additionally, I have had many more bad drives from ordering online (I think it is the shipping), then purchasing locally.
Also, with price-sensitive things like external hard-drives, there is no real price difference locally vs online.

If you are really concerned about recovery in the instance of a failed drive, an external enclosure with two drives in RAID-1 is probably a better bet then something like OWC's data recovery warranty. OWC sells them pre-stuffed with drives, but you can buy the drive carrier and drives separately for much less, and assemble it yourself.
This also has the advantage that drive failure does not lead to you having to ship your drive in to get the data back. In a RAID-1 system, your data is never unavailable, and you just replace the bad drive. With most systems, you don't even have to turn it off.


Is there any reason you want a bootable copy, rather then a Time-Machine backup? Time machine is nice because it also provides versioning, and restoring from a backup is pretty painless.

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Time machine is fine too. You can boot/restore from a time machine backup also, right? Thanks for the advice. –  artemisc360 Aug 10 '11 at 11:59
    
@artemisc360 - I think you need a OS Boot disk to restore a time machine backup, but I really don't remember. –  Fake Name Aug 10 '11 at 20:40

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