(This will be long for the purpose of clarity, but I hope answering my question won't take as much time as reading it. I've also posted it on the apple support boards but got no real solution there.)
Yesterday I changed my 2004 iBook for a new Macbook Pro and I would like to know what is the best way to set up the MBP.
The use I will give this computer is minimal, I imagine, compared to the use other people give a MBP. I normally just use the computer for Office and text documents, music/movies/pictures (no editing), light web browsing, and Mail.
But of course all of this information is valuable to me and I need to have a backup of it somewhere.
For the moment I cannot buy an external hard disk.
So these are my two purposes: 1) to make the OS run as smoothly as it possibly can, and 2) to keep a backup of my files.
After reading many different suggestions online, I concluded that a good thing for my purposes might be to partition the startup disk into two volumes. In the main partition (let's call it "P1", 160GB) I installed the OS, Leopard 10.5.6. I have left the second volume empty ("P2", 72GB). I have not yet transferred my files to the Macbook.
Now, I did this but I still don't quite get how partitions work, so please excuse my ignorance. My questions are:
1) What is the best way to organize my files:
A. Keeping them in P1, and keeping a separate copy of them in P2?
B. Keeping them only in P2?
Can P2 be left without an operating system? In other words, can I simply drop all my folders and files in it? (I have trouble imagining 'where' the files are, in what structure. I can open them without trouble with the applications installed in P1, right?)
Or do I need to install an operating system in P2 for those files to be really accessible, in case something happened to P1?
Installing an OS and having a copy of all the files in P2 seems a bit dumb, doesn't it? It would literally mean having a duplicate of my main volume.
Or is there a possibility, for example, of installing a program in P2 that would protect that backup and make it accessible in case something happened to P1? (accessible from the same Mac, or from another Mac, or from a PC).
Ideally, this program would also allow me to boot the computer in case of an emergency, or work along with another program to boot the computer?
2) As I mentioned, I already partitioned the disk. But it now seems logical to me that if I can have in P1 only the OS and all the programs, I don't really need it to be 160GB, no? Maybe 30GB would be enough? This, assuming I can have all my files in P2. So would this configuration be best for keeping the OS tidy and my files safe?
So it seems I can resize the partitions with Disk Utility. But is this safe? Or will I have to re-install everything? I've read the support file Mac OS X 10.5: About resizing disk partitions, but I am not sure what "Master Boot Record Partition" means.
In other words, if I go and drag the line up so as to get a 30GB P1, and a 200GB P2, will this erase all information on P1?
3) I also haven't been able to understand what use, if any, I could give to Time Machine. Is it only designed to work with an external drive? Or could I use Time Machine to back up things to my secondary volume?
Thank you very much for reading, and I would really appreciate any help you can provide.
Sorry, to put a damper on your thoughts here. My personal opinion is that the use of two partitions on your boot drive is of no use at all. If a mechanical failure occurs to the drive, the entire drive fails. You could lose all your data ... on both partitions. A back up made to the same disk is not a back up at all. A proper backup can only be made to a separate disk.
My suggestion would be to restore the drive to a single partition. You can do this in Disk Utility simply by enlarging the existing partition to the full size of the drive without the need of re-installing.
Then, until such time as you can afford a back up drive, use your iBook for keeping duplicate copies of your sensitive files.
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