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  1. #1
    Can I use an external hard drive, as both a back up, and save files & photos ?
    Ok, I am not great at this, but when I started, external memory was limited.
    So, I would buy an external memory block, and use it as a computer back up.

    For files & photos etc, I would buy other memory drives.

    Now, with new computers, and larger drives, I have , say a 1 TB drive, but the whole computer back up, is only 999 GB.
    Leaving a lot of empty space.

    Currently I have 2 x 1 TB drives and 1 x 750 GB drive , each one, only , as a backup, to one of my 3 computers.

    Can I use the free space available, for file & photo storage , or will that mess up, the back up ?

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in Advance

  2. #2
    Can I use an external hard drive, as both a back up, and save files & photos ?
    Slydude's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 16, 2009
    North Louisiana, USA
    Your Mac's Specs
    2.8 GHz 2008 MacBook Pro 10.11, 8 GB mem, iPhone XS, 2015 iMac 16 GB 10.14.4 beta
    As a general rule you can do that and have it work. You do have to be careful since some programs will erase the drive and start a new backup eachh time unless they are specifically set to do incremental backup.

    What program are you usnig to do the backups?
    “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
    Kevin Durant

  3. #3
    Can I use an external hard drive, as both a back up, and save files & photos ?
    IWT's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2009
    Born in Scotland, Worked in Scotland then England, Now live in Wales
    Your Mac's Specs
    Late 2015 5K 27-inch Retina iMac, 4GHz i7, 32GB RAM, 1TB Flash Drive, macOS High Sierra 10.13.6
    If I may add a word of caution. If you use an External Hard Drive (EHD) to create a Backup (BU) of your Mac (that could be with Time Machine or a Clone), and then start to add Files and photos to that EHD, you face at least two difficulties:

    1. You may start to run out of space on the EHD.

    2. All drives fail sometime (fact!) and if you lost that EHD, you'd not only lose your BU from the Mac, but all the Files and photos as well.

    The third, possibly less likely, is that there could be a conflict between your various BU strategies.

    So, as a general rule:

    An EHD should be dedicated to one specific BU - a Time Machine backup for example.

    The EHD should have a storage capacity of around 1.5 times the storage capacity of the Mac it's backing up. Time Machine is ideal for this as the BUs are incremental and don't need any specific input from you, apart from connecting the EHD to the Mac.

    If you want to BU Files, Photos, Videos etc, that, ideally should be to a separate EHD - and you will need to keep these BUs current, ie up to date, and do so manually.

    Hope that adds some background.


  4. #4
    Ok Thanks for the responses.
    On the Mac's I used Carbon Copy Cloner.
    On windows I used win 10's own backup.
    However, going by the replies,
    I am not prepared to risk messing anything up.
    Il just buy more drives.
    Thanks for the explanations.

  5. #5
    Can I use an external hard drive, as both a back up, and save files & photos ?
    MacInWin's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 01, 2009
    Winchester, VA
    Your Mac's Specs
    MBP 15" Mid 2015, iPhone XS, an iMac, plus ATVs, AWatch, MacMini
    The challenge is in how you set up CCC to do the backup clones. If your instructions in CCC are to delete any file on the External Hard Drive (EHD) that is NOT on the internal, then you can't put anything else on the EHD or the next time CCC runs it will delete those files. And if you configure CCC not to do that, you still have to have a folder name that is not matched by anything on the internal or CCC will just overwrite it. So if you decide to use the EHD for both CCC and pictures, just be careful in setup and naming. The concerns about drive failure mentioned by Ian still apply, but it can be done. Frankly, the decision to get more drives is the correct one, IMHO.

    You said
    Now, with new computers, and larger drives, I have , say a 1 TB drive, but the whole computer back up, is only 999 GB.
    Leaving a lot of empty space.
    If 999GB is the size of your backup to a 1TB drive, that only leaves 1GB of space, or 0.1% of the drive. That's not enough free space on that drive to do anything else, in fact it's too little space even for a backup. Drives need working space for the writing of temporary files used in the copy/clone process, so for spinning drive you need to leave about 10-15% of the drive free, SSDs can do with as little as 5%. But not 0.1%.

    You haven't mentioned how many pictures or how big the internal drive is, but what I would do is get two drive large enough to hold your clone backup AND your pictures and then configure one to be a CCC backup and pictures (carefully naming things and setting CCC up as I mentioned) and the other I would use as a Time Machine drive and then use CCC to clone the pictures from the other backup to the TM drive in the same folder location, again being careful about naming. That way you have two independent backups for the internal and two backups for your pictures. Drive prices are getting lower, and you don't need really high speed drives for backups, so take advantage of the lower prices and go for it.

  6. #6
    Hi, Yes , on re reading, I can see I have added a 9, by mistake, should have read 99 Gb used, for back up.
    I have a Sony Full Frame Camera, so the photo files are rather large.
    Thanks for the explanation, and yes, ill just keep the drives as back ups, and as you say, buy extras to store photos.

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