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  1. #1


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    How to Partition HDD & Make Image Backups
    My daughter graduated from high school last month and will be going to college. She really wanted a MacBook Pro and although I'm a PC-guy she's the 'light of my life' so I bought it for her. Before she leaves for college I would like to create two additional partitions on her Mac's HDD, one for data-backups (using time machine) and the other for disk-image backups (using ?).

    As both she and I are total Mac noobs, I would appreciate some advice on how to create the additional HDD partitions and also which backup app to use for creating backup images of the system partition.

    Aaron

  2. #2

    bobtomay's Avatar
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    Probably not what you want to hear, but, as the "light of your life", do her a big humongous favor and spring another $60-$100 and get an external drive for backups. Backups on the same drive may as well not be backups. The drive dies and everything is gone.

    With 10.8, for a bootable backup, have to recommend CarbonCopyCloner over SuperDuper (the one I use). CCC also creates the recovery partition. With either of them, you have a bootable backup - the internal drive dies, just connect the external and keep going until you get a replacement drive. Get the paid version and she'll have incremental backups - she just has to make the backups with some frequency.

    If the external is large enough, you could partition it and keep both a TM and a CCC backup.
    CCC - 1st choice; TM 2nd choice, not bootable, but does allow you to restore older file versions if that's ever needed (have never restored anything from my TM backups thus far - but I still do them).

    Once you get a new external the partitioning/formatting will be done in Disk Utility - found in Applications - Utilities. Should be plenty of short tutorials via google.
    I cannot be held responsible for the things that come out of my mouth.
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  3. #3

    chscag's Avatar
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    Creating a partition on the primary hard drive and using it for backups is self defeating. What good is a backup going to do when the hard drive fails? Buy her an external hard drive to go along with that brand new MacBook Pro and teach her how to make backups to it using Time Machine. The same external hard drive can be partitioned to hold images and the Time Machine backups. Just make sure you buy one that's large enough.

  4. #4


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    I appreciate your comments and will buy her an external hard drive as you guys have suggested. But I still think it's a good idea to have a partition where time-machine can save her files as she takes her MacBook from class to class. Then when she gets back to her dorm, she can create an clone/image backup to her external drive.

    Aaron

  5. #5

    bobtomay's Avatar
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    If the drive dies between classes and you have a copy in 10 partitions, all 10 copies are still toast.

    TM already makes it's hourly backups on the local drive when not connected to the TM drive which are then moved once it's re-connected to the external.
    I cannot be held responsible for the things that come out of my mouth.
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  6. #6

    chscag's Avatar
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    Not only what bobtomay stated, but making Time Machine backups on the internal hard drive is going to eat up her disk space real fast. And secondly, creating partitions on her internal hard drive may get you into trouble.... The internal drive comes from the factory with 3 partitions already on it: 1. EFI 2. Mac OS X 3. Recovery

    If you start adding partitions you may in fact destroy the integrity of the drive. Her new Mac is not a Windows computer.

  7. #7


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    Do as the others suggest. Don't partition the hard drive for backup. Rather, let the external drive do its thing with Time Machine and she should be well protected from losing data in the event the hard drive on her computer goes belly up. Backing up data to the same hard drive just doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

  8. #8


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    Quote Originally Posted by bobtomay View Post
    TM already makes it's hourly backups on the local drive when not connected to the TM drive which are then moved once it's re-connected to the external.
    Bob, can you please explain this (remembering that I'm a Mac noob)?

  9. #9


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    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    Not only what bobtomay stated, but making Time Machine backups on the internal hard drive is going to eat up her disk space real fast. And secondly, creating partitions on her internal hard drive may get you into trouble.... The internal drive comes from the factory with 3 partitions already on it: 1. EFI 2. Mac OS X 3. Recovery

    If you start adding partitions you may in fact destroy the integrity of the drive. Her new Mac is not a Windows computer.
    Again, I truly don't understand this. Can you please elaborate as to why doing this could be problematic on a Mac.

  10. #10


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    Quote Originally Posted by J.Fo View Post
    Do as the others suggest. Don't partition the hard drive for backup. Rather, let the external drive do its thing with Time Machine and she should be well protected from losing data in the event the hard drive on her computer goes belly up. Backing up data to the same hard drive just doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
    While I appreciate the point you guys are making about having backup on an external should the internal drive go belly-up, my daughter can't realistically carry the external drive along with her throughout each day's classes. So I was simply thinking of an interim backup until she gets back to her dorm!

  11. #11

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    Okay so imagine she backs up to the partition. The backup is to save all her work in the event the drive fails, and all drives fail, some sooner than others. The drive has failed, how does the lass access the backed up partition? The machine cannot boot from the hard drive so no backup unless you are prepared to spend literally thousands in commercial backup recovery.

    A say 1TB 2.5" drive in an external case with FW cable will only weigh a pound or two and pack neatly in the MBP carry case.
    Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Here View Post
    While I appreciate the point you guys are making about having backup on an external should the internal drive go belly-up, my daughter can't realistically carry the external drive along with her throughout each day's classes. So I was simply thinking of an interim backup until she gets back to her dorm!
    Here's what I think you are trying to accomplish. One backup that could be used to quickly return the machine to a functional state in the event of a disaster. This could be updated as significant changes are made.

    As a second issue backup data so that data could be restored as needed If these assumptions are correct read on otherwise stop now

    What the guys are suggesting meets both of these needs. It could be done with one partitioned external drive or two external drives. I will assume one partitioned drive. Here's what you do to meet your goal:

    1. One partition on the external drive is a "clone" of the system. In an emergency she could head to the dorm and boot from the external drive to attempt restoration/repairs.

    2. The second partition on the external drive is used for Time Machine to back up data files. This backup occurs hourly. Data can be restored as needed in the event of a disaster.

    Here's the important part that perhaps we haven't explained well. Once Time Machine is set up it looks for the external drive to perform a backup. If that drive is unavailable the backups are stored on the internal drive until the external drive is reconnected
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  13. #13


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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Here View Post
    While I appreciate the point you guys are making about having backup on an external should the internal drive go belly-up, my daughter can't realistically carry the external drive along with her throughout each day's classes. So I was simply thinking of an interim backup until she gets back to her dorm!
    This is already done, by Time Machine, automatically.

    Repeating: the Mac is NOT A PC. Stop thinking like a PC owner. The Mac mostly takes care of itself, it doesn't need the level of "constant management" that a PC does.

    If she *wants* to, she can certainly store files she creates during classes "in the cloud" (iCloud, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Copy.com, Dropbox, Box, etc etc etc) for safekeeping. Then even if (heaven forbid) the computer is lost or stolen, her work is still safe and waiting to be easily recovered even if a backup hasn't been done. I do this with all my presentations so that in the event my "local" copy doesn't work for some reason, or my computer dies, I can just grab another Internet-connected device and still have access to the file.

    Thumb drive would also work for storing or backing up documents temporarily between backups, but really you're way overthinking this. Millions of people use Time Machine, it works great and its totally automatic.

  14. #14

    bobtomay's Avatar
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    Realistically speaking - no one in college is going to stop after the end of every class (before getting up to go to the next class, back to the dorm, out to lunch with friends, etc.) and make a backup of whatever notes that were made in that class... whether it's to an external hard drive, a flash drive or even a separate partition on the internal drive... at least not for very long - even with the best of intentions.

    Creating a copy of a file on the same drive... whether in the same partition or a separate partition... is not a backup.

    Slydude summed it up best.
    1 external drive with 2 partitions
    1 with a bootable clone via CCC which will permit the computer to continue to be used in the event the internal drive dies
    1 using TM which will permit the restoration of deleted &/or older versions of files which could be useful in school work

    Quote Originally Posted by Slydude View Post
    ... Once Time Machine is set up it looks for the external drive to perform a backup. If that drive is unavailable the backups are stored on the internal drive until the external drive is reconnected
    The above is automatic - once TM is set up, there is nothing further for you to do - it silently creates backups once an hour without any further interference from the end user. If it is not connected to the drive that has been set up for it to use, it keeps these backups on the internal drive. Once connected to the TM drive, it will auto transfer those backups.

    The problem chscag mentions, is that if she does not take the time to connect her Mac to that external drive with regularity - preferably once a day - to allow TM to transfer that data to the external drive - then she could fill up the drive with these backups and cause a whole other problem.

    Once the TM drive gets full - it also auto deletes the oldest backups to make room for the new ones.

    CCC is not automatic and will require the user to launch the app and update the clone.

    (And most of us are "still" PC guys. Even in a Windows environment, I could not in good conscience recommend, nor is having a copy of a file on the same drive a "backup".)
    I cannot be held responsible for the things that come out of my mouth.
    In the Windows world, most everything folks don't understand is called a virus.

  15. #15

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    For your question about partitions, OSX, as chscag noted, already partitions your internal hard drive for its own uses. Messing with the partitioning on internal drives will upset what's there and may cause you some problems down the road. I second his suggestion to leave the internal drive alone. (One of those internal drive partitions is called "recovery" and is there so that if the installation of OSX gets messed up somehow, you can boot from the recovery partition and reinstall OSX without losing much data at all. That's a very nice function and one you don't want to mess with.

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