My MacBook drive size is 120GB. Every few months I empty the photo library, I delete my GarageBand recordings and empty the iTunes resources—all these after I copy them on an external hard drive. So, nothing is lost.

But this ends in duplicated documents on my external hard drive. For instance, I always copy the whole photo library, but on my MacBook I do not delete the Favorites album.

What I want to do is: to have one file on my external hard drive for each of the following libraries:

  • iMovie library
  • Photos library
  • iTunes library
  • iBooks (?) — Not really sure where they are stored, but would be nice to back up these as well

Then, when I want to free up the space on my MacBook, I want to merge the MacBook libraries (iMovie, Photos, iTunes and iBooks) into my external hard drive libraries, but without deleting anything from my hard drive and keeping the metadata (such as edited photos and so on). For instance, if I deleted a photo from my MacBook which appears in the HDD library, I don't want it to be deleted there as well.

What is the right way to do this?

  • 1
    Is there a reason you're not using Time Machine? You may want to read my answer here which gives a good breakdown of how Time Machine treats data such as your Photos library. This may give you some context re your question above. – Monomeeth Apr 27 '17 at 9:30
  • @Monomeeth I think the Time Machine requires a whole drive (am I wrong?). I have a 5TB drive and I want to use it for other documents as well. – Ionică Bizău Apr 27 '17 at 9:35
  • @Monomeeth It says The disk must be erased before it can be used... (because of incompatible file system). – Ionică Bizău Apr 27 '17 at 9:38
  • @Monomeeth TM doesn't work so well as an archiving solution as it automatically deletes old backups – nohillside Apr 27 '17 at 10:38
  • No, TM doesn't necessarily need a whole drive. You can manually copy data across to the same drive if you wish, although you'd probably be better off partitioning the drive so that you have a dedicated TM backup partition and another partition for manual backups, documents, etc. As for your second issue re the incompatible file system, you probably can't do anything about that (at least not anything I'd recommend), except reformat the drive. Of course you'd have to backup the data on it before doing that. – Monomeeth Apr 27 '17 at 10:40

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