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  1. #1


    Member Since
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    Question Specific external hard drive questions - advice?
    Hello all,

    I've been reading these forums for a few days now, getting info from everyone else's posts about external hard drives. I have a few specific questions that I'm not sure I have a handle on, even after reading a lot, and was hoping someone could give me a little guidance. I just got a MacBook Pro with a 160GB hard drive. Rather than continuing with my old habit of backing my important files up to DVD, I decided it's time to get an external drive so that I can create a bootable copy of my entire system.

    I am planning on using this drive for backup purposes only; I'm not planning on needing to launch any applications off of it, or on needing it for extra files that are too big for my HD. Given that, I'm confused about what kind of connection I need (USB, FW 400/800, eSATA) and a couple of other things. Based on other reviews and research, I've narrowed it down to the WD MyBooks, Seagate FreeAgent Pro, and OWC Mercury Elite Pro Aluminum models.

    My Questions:
    -Given the fact that I'm only using this for backup, what kind of connections do I really need? Based on what I've heard, I'm thinking I should at least get firewire 400 rather than only USB, but do I need to go for the FireWire 800? And given that Macs don't come with eSATA yet, is it worth it to pay extra for the eSATA connection in hopes of staving off obsolescence, or will having Firewire 800 cover me there?
    -In order to make a bootable copy of my hard drive, do I need to partition the drive, or can I just make a bootable copy and then also back up additional folders and files? I'm a little confused about this part, so I'm not even sure I'm asking the question right...
    -Which file format do I need to format the drive to: FAT or NTFS?
    -Should I be leary about how any of these drives are going to interact with Leopard when it comes out, or should they all be fine?
    -Finally, I'm going to need backup software; I've heard SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner are good; can these programs schedule automatic backups that overwrite only the things that have changed since the last backup, and then allow you to both a) boot from that backup and b) access individual files in that backup?

    Thanks much, all.

  2. #2


    Member Since
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    1) Firewire 800 should be fine for years to come. Even firewire400 is okay. USB is sometimes slow, but for backup purposes, it doesn't matter. Although, it will take away a free USB slot and we know how scarce those are on the Macs.

    2) Why do you want to make a bootable copy of the drive? If the OS crashes, reinstalling it is just a few clicks away and it doesn't destroy data while doing so. Just use a good backup software (superduper is good I hear) to backup all your data. But then again, who am I to speak? I don't know this one.

    3) If you are going to use this only on the mac, then go for OS X's HFS file system. Its better than NTFS. If you want to use it on a PC, then make it Fat32, cause OS X can't write to NTFS (only read)

    4) From what I hear, leopard will be a one click affair. Just plug in your drive and it sets up everything for you. You can't use the drive for other storage though.

    5) SuperDuper is my recommendation

    Hope I helped.

  3. #3


    Member Since
    Aug 26, 2007
    Location
    New England
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    Specs:
    MBP 2.2Ghz 2GB RAM, External 22" widescreen
    Quote Originally Posted by goobimama View Post

    2) Why do you want to make a bootable copy of the drive? If the OS crashes, reinstalling it is just a few clicks away and it doesn't destroy data while doing so. Just use a good backup software (superduper is good I hear) to backup all your data. But then again, who am I to speak? I don't know this one.

    --I want to make a bootable copy in case the actual hard drive dies. That way I can carry my external hard drive to my mac at work and pick up where I left off...


    3) If you are going to use this only on the mac, then go for OS X's HFS file system. Its better than NTFS. If you want to use it on a PC, then make it Fat32, cause OS X can't write to NTFS (only read)

    --Which one is the one that can't do things in bigger than 4GB chunks? And what effect would that have?

    4) From what I hear, leopard will be a one click affair. Just plug in your drive and it sets up everything for you. You can't use the drive for other storage though.
    --What do you mean, you can't use the drive for other storage? Sorry...just not clear on that.

    Thanks for your help!

  4. #4


    Member Since
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    As in you can't use the drive used by Time Machine as a normal external drive. That is, if you suddenly fancy you'll dump a movie on your external drive (used by time machine), you can't. Its all automated. This is to the best of my knowledge as I have no experience of it.

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