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  1. #1
    Will Time Machine Erase All Files On My Portable Hard Drive?

    Member Since
    Dec 26, 2008
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    Question Will Time Machine Erase All Files On My Portable Hard Drive?
    This is my first time using Time Machine. I purchased a 500 gb portable hard drive (Western Digital) which is mac compatible. When I got it, it I loaded all of my files from my pc onto the hard drive. I have transferred some of the files (mostly pictures and documents) to my MacBook hard drive. When I connected my portable hard drive and opened up Time Machine, I located the Western Digital drive fine but it said it needed to be reformatted and that it will erase all of the files on the hard drive. I think there are some files on it that are necessary to run the hard drive so I'm nervous about deleting them. Can I delete them and still have the hard drive run properly? Should I just transfer all of the remaining files to my laptop and then use the Time Machine program? I want to be able to periodically back up all of my files on the portable hard drive.

  2. #2
    Will Time Machine Erase All Files On My Portable Hard Drive?
    chscag's Avatar
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    Jan 23, 2008
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    In order to use your external HDD with Time Machine it must be formatted to HFS+. That process will wipe the drive clean and destroy all the data that is currently on it. Before formatting, save everything you need from the drive to a safe place.

    There are no files on the WD drive that are necessary for it to run properly. Formatting it for Time Machine will prepare the drive to be used by your Mac for backups or even for storage of your OS X data if you choose.

    You can even partition the drive into two partitions; one for Time Machine, the other for storage. The second partition can be created as FAT-32 and used for OS X and Windows file storage. If you need more help on this, post back and someone will lend a hand.

    Regards.

  3. #3
    Will Time Machine Erase All Files On My Portable Hard Drive?

    Member Since
    Dec 26, 2008
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    Smile Thanks
    Thanks that was helpful. I saved all my files that were on the portable hard drive and then erased them using Time Machine. Then I ran Time Machine and it now has all of my back up on it. Can you provide details on the partitioning process. Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Will Time Machine Erase All Files On My Portable Hard Drive?
    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
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    To partition the WD, go to Utilities, Disk Utility. Highlight the WD drive, erase it, and then create two partitions. Format one as HFS + (for Time Machine), format the second partition as MS DOS (FAT-32) for file storage.

    See this web site. Link

    Regards.

  5. #5
    Will Time Machine Erase All Files On My Portable Hard Drive?

    Member Since
    Jan 24, 2011
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    Is it necessary to partition my external hard drive if I want to use it for Time Machine and to store loads of music that can't fit on my iMac? Like, will a separate folder do the trick? If not, will I still format the second partition as it is discussed previously in the thread?

    Thanks!!

  6. #6
    Will Time Machine Erase All Files On My Portable Hard Drive?
    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
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    No, it's not necessary to partition it for both Time Machine and to store iTunes music files. Time Machine backups will not overwrite your music files. And yes, you should store the music files in a separate folder on the drive.

  7. #7
    Will Time Machine Erase All Files On My Portable Hard Drive?

    Member Since
    May 15, 2011
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    Hi, I'm in a similar situation. My 1tb hard drive has all my music, videos, etc stored in there and the format is Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Will selecting it as my time machine backup hard drive just create a folder and work from that or will it erase the files and then backup?

    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Will Time Machine Erase All Files On My Portable Hard Drive?
    Slydude's Avatar
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    If your drive is already HFS+ extended Time Machine will not erase the files that are already there. If it is formatted as something else (say FAT 32) then it will need to be re-formatted and that would lead to lose of data.

    One of the downsides to this arrangement is that as your music files take up more space on the drive there is less space for backups.
    Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

    "Got Time to breathe. You got time for music." Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling

  9. #9
    Will Time Machine Erase All Files On My Portable Hard Drive?

    Member Since
    Aug 21, 2013
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    1
    what happens on a second backup?
    Hi I am just now using the time machine for the first time.
    I just backed up all my info but still am nervous about whats going to happen afterwards.

    I needed to free up space in my disk, so right now EVERYTHING is in a external hard drive I used as backup disk, pics.. docs.. can i / should i delete the files in the computer?

    What happens next time I do a backup? every file in the first backup stays intact or will it just delete and create a new one?

    I am a complete tec-idiot so I apreciate the clarification.
    Thanks

  10. #10
    Will Time Machine Erase All Files On My Portable Hard Drive?
    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
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    Fort Worth, Texas
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    27" iMac i5, 3.2 GHz, iPad 3, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, Yosemite
    I needed to free up space in my disk, so right now EVERYTHING is in a external hard drive I used as backup disk, pics.. docs.. can i / should i delete the files in the computer?
    No. Definitely do not delete the files you backed up with Time Machine. If you just copied those files to the external disk without using Time Machine, then it should be OK to remove them from your internal hard drive. But make sure the files are OK first. Many programs can not be moved to an external drive without reinstalling so be careful!

    What happens next time I do a backup? every file in the first backup stays intact or will it just delete and create a new one?
    Time Machine will only backup and write was has changed and will append it to the original backup. Each time it does that it creates a time - date stamped backup. Make sure you completely understand how Time Machine works. Do some googling and reading.

  11. #11
    Will Time Machine Erase All Files On My Portable Hard Drive?
    harryb2448's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 28, 2007
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    This HFS+ and Mac OS Extended (Journaled) do tend to confuse folks. Just consider them as basically the same system using different terminology.

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread...art=0&tstart=0
    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!

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