My iTunes stores my OS X, iPhone and iPad settings. I got this kind of problem in OS X that stores the essential things such as settings and backups. According to this thread here, I need to format the drive.

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The segregation of the HDD means I need to backup my OSx to some external HDD. Could someone suggest a storage? I have no idea which features to look for in backup disks, could someone guide me? Write-speed, read-speed, durability, something else? In the past, I have by accident broken 3.5 drives so I think I must get some cases such as here -- if I am going with traditional way.

Now in the Apple way:

What are the Apple ways to solve this backup problem?

Helper questions

  1. Instead of buying 3.5" drives, I have wondered whether Apple offers something here: I will soon have a Mac Mini for rendering so could I use its storage for backup-storage?

  2. I haven't yet used Time Machine, could I do this with it? Or should I take an image of the whole disk somehow?

  3. If I go with some random HDD such as this here, what kind of features should I look for? Are all harddrives Apple-compatible? I have this kind of reader here.

  • 1
    I only have some notes on 2 of the 3 questions. No 2.: Time machine will make nice automatic backups of your system, but you will not be able to boot from those backups. To do that you would want to make a full image of your drive with for example Carbon Copy Cloner. No 3.: Any harddrive is Apple-compatible as long as you format it with the correct filesystem (i.e. all common filesystems except for NTFS, natively that is read-only on the Mac(. The example HDD is a fast drive, you don't need that for backup. 5400 rpm is enough. Nov 30, 2012 at 0:53
  • @BartArondson I mixed your comment to my answer. If you want, you could steal my answer and make your own with more detail. Then I could remove it, it may lack some details.
    – hhh
    Nov 30, 2012 at 1:21

3 Answers 3


I've used Macs since y'all were toddlers, always keep everything upgraded, and still like things simple. Maybe any of this will help:

People confuse TimeMachine, which is an incremental backup of changed files (once it's got the initial set) and is not bootable ... with a BackUp Disk, which can boot the computer and perhaps even repair it, with Disk Utility and Disk Warrior. A portable USB clone of your computer. The cloning utility I like is SuperDuper. Maybe once a month I run SD and it updates the clone - and I always run it before System updates/upgrades/new machines. Used to use old Powerbook drives in enclosures, but found them to be fragile.

You can have as many as you like, of course--keep one in the car, etc. Flash or pocket or disk-on-key drives are now hi-capacity enough to store your important files, and can be made bootable with a limited system and hold some utilities.

It'a a matter of choice, money and paranoia, how many layers of duplication and backup makes you comfortable. I would not rely on iCloud in any manner--use it, but not rely on for storage.

An easier backup--without the hardware of TimeMachine--is Arq, which backs up my changed files--and anything else I want--nightly over my wireless connection to Amazon storage. Cost is reasonable - and of course one can pay more in monthly fees and archive files.

It's a matter of distinguishing between disk clones, the replica of your computer ... backing up ... and archiving, so to speak. I trust A3 more than I do TimeMachine, and already have enough hardware.

By archiving, I mean the files you never want to lose. They can of course be stored on a portable or online ... having a real copy in your possession can't be beat.

The portable USB/Firewire bus-powered disks I've owned have all been just about silent.

  • My friend suggested to invest in Firewire devices because they are much faster than USB devices. Is this true and does it change buying of different HDDs? Not bad idea to use external storage! Which kind of Amazon service you have? EC2? Instead of buying local harddrives, external harddrives backuping things during night sounds better.
    – hhh
    Nov 30, 2012 at 9:32
  • Firewire seems less and less supported, tho it's faster. And, try Arq from Haystack Software for automated backups to A3.
    – Zo219
    Dec 1, 2012 at 10:01
  1. Yes, install server on it and you can use networked time machine backups direct to it's own internal storage
  2. Yep, this would be ideal
  3. Rather than looking at a disk, and then an external caddy, just get one that's all in one. Speeds are not really an issue if you use USB, it's far slower than the drive will be. All drives are compatible, some may merely require re-initialising to remove windows filesystems. There is no real feature to look for, but when I chose mine I looked for a quiet one is all.
  • How do you know whether a disk is quiet? RPM? SSD? I have similar criteria, it must be quiet :) +1 ...wish to know which you chose...
    – hhh
    Nov 30, 2012 at 1:04
  • Did I get this right, Mac Mini does not replace an external 3.5" drive? Or can you use it as such? In order for the server in Mac Mini, do I need to buy the server-version of Mac Mini or does the non-server version suffice?
    – hhh
    Nov 30, 2012 at 1:07
  • ...moved the silence question here.
    – hhh
    Nov 30, 2012 at 1:20

Drive with the USB-3 support

Make sure you pay a little bit extra for USB 3 or Firewire. USB 3 is currently much cheaper to Firewire so I would get such drive. My friend Ville mentioned that a large splittered HDD with poor connection can easily take 7hours of copying or more. With USB 3, you can save a lot of time in the case of emergency and not wasting the whole day in copying things.

A ready container with USB connection, not separate drive and not separate container

I asked my friend about using this kind of tools here but my friend instructed to buy a box protecting the drive because it does not add much price to the drive and easy USB usage. You can nowadays find 2TBs' drives 2.5" for about 260EUR such as WD My Passport for Mac.

Answers to helper questions merged some comments above

  1. Instead of buying 3.5" drives, buy a Mac Mini and use its storage as backup-storage.

  2. Use Time Machine and also clone the whole disk. Bart Arondson mentioned a tool "Carbon Copy Cloner" for cloning in the comments. You need both of them, Time Machine and cloning, Time Machine does not replaces an image of the disk.

  3. PC-style solution: go with some random HDD such as this here but too much things to analyze: which features should I look for? Are all harddrives Apple-compatible? Other items? Like reader here? Bart Arondson mentioned "5400 rpm is enough".

  4. [No] TimeCapsule as backup? -No because of poor experience here of losing data.

Related questions

  1. About the silence of harddisks, please, consult this thread here.

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