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Thread: The External hard-drive question for newbs

  1. #1

    Member Since
    Mar 21, 2010
    Amarillo Texas
    Question The External hard-drive question for newbs
    Im a newb when it comes to operating a iMac. I have had mine for about a week and am enjoying it, but I do have a few questions. One in particular...

    Whats an external hard drive used for? I assumed that it was used to help lighten the load of the internal drive, in that I could install programs on them and then run those programs from the external drive. From what I can gather (and from not being able to install on my external drive because it does not have the mac OS on it) now is that these external drives are mainly used to hold only music and/or data files, and in most cases are not to be used for running programs from... Firewire or not..... Is this mostly correct????

  2. #2

    clayneal's Avatar
    Member Since
    Mar 27, 2009
    Lincoln Nebraska
    Hello , I will suggest that the most important thing to use you ex-hdd for is to keep a current back-up ! If you have not already started your back-up plan might I suggest that you do so today. Your iMac came with an .app called Time Machine which is as simple as pie to use . On top of that I will add that a bootable back-up ( which TM is not ) is also very important as well. I myself ( and a large # of good folks here ) use both a TM as well as either Carbon Copy Cloner or Superduper bootable back-up.

    Here are some links to get you started.

    Apple - Mac OS X - What is Mac OS X - Time Machine

    Carbon Copy Cloner - Home


    I hope this helps

  3. #3

    Member Since
    Jan 27, 2007
    Well an external is used for these purposes mostly:

    1. As you said, as a place to store excess applications and use them when your computer's main hard drive is getting full.

    2. To backup your computer hard drive's data. As in make a copy which you update often. So if anything happens to that data on your computer's hard drive, you have the external so you can copy it back to your main. And nothing is lost.

    Apple have an application called "Time Machine" on OS 10.5+ that makes this backing up process a breeze and very eazy to access.

    3. As a file server/dump. People will sometimes use their external hard drives as a store of files for one or multiple computers. So for example:
    Full of music so one or a network of computers can play music without having the music files taking up space on the computer's internal drive.
    Other files for the same reason as above. To be accessed by many computers on a network.
    And lastly as a way of transfering files between many computers on a network.

  4. #4

    baggss's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 10, 2004
    Most people use externals drives for data storage and keep the apps on the internal drive. To use you external drive on your Mac you have 3 options:

    1) Use the Mac's built in Disc utility to format the drive as HFS+ (Journaled). This is the standard Mac format.The drive will no longer be accessable to your Windows based
    computers without 3rd party apps to allow it to do so.

    2) FAT-32. Your Mac can format the drive as FAT 32 (Windows DOS format) and it can do it to large drives (Windows limits FAT 32 pto 32Gb partitions only). FAT-32 allows
    you to share the driver between your Mac and PC easily but be aware that FAT-32 can not handle files larger than 4Gb in size.

    3) NTFS. This is the standard Windows format. Your Mac can read NTFS but can't write to an NTFS drive (Blame MS not Apple). You buy software such as MacFuse or others
    that will allow your Mac to work seemlessly with NTFS drives, but they are not free.

    In the end you have to decide what you want to do with the drive and how you want to use it. You don't have to have the MacOS installed on your external, it just has to be in a format the Mac can use.

  5. #5

    Chef_eam's Avatar
    Member Since
    Dec 12, 2009
    I have two 1 TB external drives attached to my iMac. One is used for Time Machine backups, and the other holds my iTunes library, content used in my 3D apps, miscellaneous downloads, and my current 3D projects I am working on, plus a few other things. I have not tried putting apps on the external drive instead of in the Applications folder. I am still a Mac newbie, so not sure it it would work or not.

  6. #6

    Member Since
    Feb 25, 2010
    Applications normally work fine from anywhere. Some of them have picky configurations that require the .app bundle to be left exactly where you installed it, but that's very few.

  7. #7

    Member Since
    Mar 21, 2010
    Amarillo Texas
    ok thanks folks for all the help.

    My external has ...

    Partition Map Scheme : GUID Partition Table
    Write Status : Read/Write
    Total Capacity : 500.11 GB (500,107,862,016 Bytes)

    and yet when I try to install something on it, I get the message that i cant because its needs a drive with the Mac OS installed on it to install????

    So if apps work fine anywhere, how do i configure an external hard drive to allow installs to it?

  8. #8

    Member Since
    Mar 21, 2010
    Amarillo Texas

    I just got in my external enclosure and stuck a 1 TB drive in using FW-800, to a 400 for the second External, to my FW MOTU 828mk3 audio interface that runs at FW-400... Im using the 1 TB with time machine for back ups, and I may partition the 500 gb for Windows 7 stuff...

    Is this a bad idea ?? Do alot of folks run Windows 7 (on another drive) along with SL? I havent thought alot about compatibility issues yet....

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