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  1. #1
    Use Time Machine on 2 computers w/ 1 back up drive?

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    Use Time Machine on 2 computers w/ 1 back up drive?
    Hello, newbe and probably a repeat question, sorry in advance! I got my first Mac back in January of this year, top of the line 21.5 IMac and love it, can't say enough good about it. I am using Time Machine hooked to my IMac is a WD 1TB drive for my backup's now my question is I'm getting my wife a Macbook Pro in a few weeks (finally converted her) and I'd like to use the WD to back up her computer also. Can this be done across my wifi? or would it be easier to get a second WD drive for her's (don't want to do this unless necessary)

    If this is the wrong place for this please move it for me, thanks.

  2. #2
    Use Time Machine on 2 computers w/ 1 back up drive?
    RavingMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Resqu2 View Post
    Hello, newbe and probably a repeat question, sorry in advance! I got my first Mac back in January of this year, top of the line 21.5 IMac and love it, can't say enough good about it. I am using Time Machine hooked to my IMac is a WD 1TB drive for my backup's now my question is I'm getting my wife a Macbook Pro in a few weeks (finally converted her) and I'd like to use the WD to back up her computer also. Can this be done across my wifi? or would it be easier to get a second WD drive for her's (don't want to do this unless necessary)

    If this is the wrong place for this please move it for me, thanks.
    Yes you can, but will be easier (I think) in the long run if you don't. I bought each of us (my wife and I) small USB drives not much bigger than a deck of cards and getting power from USB port.
    This makes it quick and easy to back up, which continually switching drives wouldn't be. The easier it is to backup the more likely you are to do it. And since a drive like this costs about $70 to me the investment is worth it.
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  3. #3
    Use Time Machine on 2 computers w/ 1 back up drive?
    Slydude's Avatar
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    There is an alternative besides continually connecting and disconnecting the drive tome the two computers. I'll leave it to youth decide how easy it is to do.

    If you have a Time Capsule, Airport Extreme, or other router that will allow you to attach a hard drive, you could attach your drive to that. Both machines could back up wirelessly. Here are the potential problems I see with that scenario.

    1. I am not sure sure about how a single attached drive would behave if both computers initiated backups at or near the same time. Don't think I have seen anything written about that.

    2. Time Machine backs up to a network device, which the hard drive would be in this scenario, the format changes from a series of folders which is what's used with a directly attached drive to files stored in a sparsebundle. That would not affect your wife's backups since hers would start that way. In your case it would mean that Time Machine would want to start a completely new backup. You can put your old backups inside a sparsebundle and have TM continue from there but I have read varying reports on how successful that is. Seems to work with recount versions of TM though it is time consuming to move the files if you already have a large backup.
    Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

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

  4. #4
    Use Time Machine on 2 computers w/ 1 back up drive?
    Gary86's Avatar
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    I have a western digital wireless hard drive for wireless backup for my macbook and my wifes macbook and using time machine for both and they work perfect. Her's does a back up ever hour because she would forget to do it and mine is done manually.

  5. #5
    Use Time Machine on 2 computers w/ 1 back up drive?
    Slydude's Avatar
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    That kind of schedule would work then since only one machine at a time is accessing the drive for backup. I was concerned about what would happen if both machines tried to access the drive for backup at the same time.

    Here's the scenario I thought of being a potential problem. Resqu2 boots his Mac at 2:00 and starts working. A few minutes later, (let's say five just for discussion) later Mrs. Resq2 boots her machine and starts working. On a normal schedule Time Machine should start a backup of Resque2's machine about an hour later. Mrs. Resque2's Mac would also be due to start a backup a few minutes later. What happens if the drive is in use by Resque2's backup at that moment?

    Now the odds of that happening every day are pretty slim but eventually it would happen. How does Time Machine behave? Also, I wonder if partitioning the drive would affect how TM behaves?
    Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

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

  6. #6
    Use Time Machine on 2 computers w/ 1 back up drive?
    JohnCL's Avatar
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    I know for fact that my computers access the Airport Extreme at the same time, and I have never had an issue. I back up my Mini, MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air without issue. Doesn't get any easier that wireless Time Machine!
    12" rMB 256gb | Mac Pro 3,1 2x 2.8GHz | Dual 2.0GHz PowerMac G5 | 24" ACD | 64GB Verizon iPhone 6 Plus | iPad Air 2 64GB LTE | iPad mini 2 16GB | Gen 7 Nano | Gen 4 iPod Touch | TV1 | TV3 | Watch Sport 42mm Space Gray

  7. #7
    Use Time Machine on 2 computers w/ 1 back up drive?
    Slydude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCL View Post
    I know for fact that my computers access the Airport Extreme at the same time, and I have never had an issue. I back up my Mini, MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air without issue. Doesn't get any easier that wireless Time Machine!
    Thanks for that info. I'm sure I have tried something similar at some point. It would be an issue if both computers were physically connected at the same time.

    @Resqu2 If you decide to try the wireless backup option with one drive some people have been successful getting TM to continue their backups rather than start a new one. There has been a lot written about this at macosxhints.com.

    If you go this route make sure you're wife's first backup to the network drive is with her being hardwired into the network if possible. The initial TM backup can be time consuming over wireless depending upon how much you have excluded from backup.
    Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

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

  8. #8
    Use Time Machine on 2 computers w/ 1 back up drive?

    Member Since
    Apr 17, 2011
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    Thanks for the info guys, to clarify I have a Linksys E2000 wireless router and it has no ports to hook up my WD drive so my drive has to stay connected to my IMac. I may look into a wireless drive like Gary86 is using or do what Razormac in post #2 is doing.

    With my current job situation I hate to buy anything that I don't have to have, the Macbook Pro is going to hurt enough but her PC is failing quickly and she has finally agreed to switch to the Mac

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