I'm not techie at all. But I manage the basics.

I've always backed up my MacBook (2009) on a Passport. I just plug it in while the Mac is connected to power source & click the icon & it backs up.

Tonight - the Mac doesn't even see the Passport?

I have tried & tried.

The computer has been acting up in strange ways (not connecting to internet, lots of "spinning wheel of death", slow to open apps & slow to change apps) so now I am terrified.


1 Answer 1


By "Passport," I am assuming that you are referring to a Western Digital external drive, which you have been using to perform regular backups. I'm guessing that by "backups," you have been using Time Machine.

Considering that this is a new issue, it is fair to say that the external drive has been formatted correctly for use with Mac OSX (i.e., Mac OS Extended (Journaled)). FYI, if you wanted to confirm the File System, then you can use the Disk Utility to display Info about the drive.

The first rule of troubleshooting is to obtain a known working device, which you can substitute to test and narrow down where the problem lay. So in this case, get access to another external hard drive (perhaps from a friend), and see if it can be accessed.

However, you observe physical issues with your MacBook, such as "spinning noise" and it being unresponsive (slow). Unfortunately, this is a classic symptom that the hard drive within the MacBook is failing. Again FYI, if you wish to inspect the processes on your system to potentially identify other issues, then use the Activity Monitor.

Assuming that the hard drive within the MacBook needs to be replaced, the good news is that the Time Machine backup on the Passport can be used to restore your system after the repair.

  • I'm not sure HOW to Aug 15, 2015 at 5:19
  • "Files can't be copied onto the backup disk because it is 'read only.'" "you may need to repair or reformat the disk using Disk Utility. If the disk can't be repaired, you must use a different disk for backups." I don't know how to repair or reformat the disk using Disk Utility - and although I'm happy to try to figure that out, am I in danger of losing anything? Isn't all my back-up ON that external (WD Passport) drive? Aug 15, 2015 at 5:19
  • In Disk Utility, there is a "Repair Disk" button to initiate the process. However, as stated, it is worthwhile to borrow someone else's external drive to confirm that your MacBook is able to access (i.e., read files) on that drive. Likewise, someone else's Mac should be able to read files on the external drive. Doing such tests will help to determine where the problem lay.
    – Vzzdak
    Aug 17, 2015 at 15:46

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