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backups difficult to complete

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I must be doing something wrong! I have a WD 2T USB3 drive I use for my off-site backups. The drive is partitioned into 3 sections. All 3 USED to be MacOS Extended (journaled) but now 2 of the 3 are formated APFS. When opened with Disk Utility I see: Container disk 7 and under that is MB, MB - Data, MB - Data, then Other, then Container disk 8 and under that is iMac, iMac - Data. That first partition(container 7) is 300G in APFS. I use it to back up my wife's MacBook. She runs the latest OS and is always up to date. The 2nd partition (OTHER) is 600G in MacOS journaled. I use it to back up another removable HD attached to my iMac. The 3rd partition (container 8) is 1.1T in APFS. I use it to back up my iMac, which is running latest OS and updated.
This particular portable HD is what I keep off-site so I only do back ups using this disk drive once a month, or so. Today, I began with MacBook. The 2 APFS partitions did not mount. I used Disk Utility to see them and ran First Aid on the MB partition. It failed. Told me to reformat. I erased that partition and successfully used Carbon Copy Cloner to create a new back up. I then brought the disk to my iMac, again NOT seeing my 2 APFS partitions mounted. I used Disk Utility to run First Aid. Initially First Aid failed, but it completed on the 2nd try. This is what happened to all the partitions I ran First Aid on. I also noticed the partition for wife's MB has 2 sections called MB - Data. After doing all this and running CCCloner on my iMac, I plugged drive back into wife's MBook and again the 2 APFS partitions did not mount.
It makes no sense to have to reformat/erase each month I use this back up. Suggestions for solving these problems would be GREATLY appreciated
 
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Your specs section of your profile says you are on Mojave, but you posted that you are on the latest, which is Catalina. From your description, it does sound like Catalina (with the "data" containers). So, assuming the profile is wrong and you are on Catalina, if I understand your issue, when this drive is attached to any of your Macs only one partition mounts. I am slightly confused by your description of what is going on, as it is possible to have partitions on the device, but APFS refers to Volumes and Containers. And Containers are IN partitions. So, as I said, part of what you are saying is confusing to me. You say you have three partitions, I presume one for each machine, and in each partition is one or more containers with volumes in them. But from the description, you seem to have ONE partition with multiple Containers in it (Container 7, Container 8). So that is confusing. Maybe it would help if you posted a screenshot of Disk Utility showing the drive as it is shown in the left hand column of Disk Utility? Select the "Show all Devices" view so we can see the hardware, the three partitions and all the containers in the partitions. From there, maybe we can sort out what is going on.
 
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Jake,
Yes, I am running Catalina (I thought I had updated my profile). After reading your response, I plugged in my drive and it took close to 3 minutes to load/mount on my desktop of my iMac. These are the notices I received as the mounting was working. Also is a screen shot of what shows in disk utility: Screen Shot 2020-01-02 at 10.11.30 AM.pngScreen Shot 2020-01-02 at 10.11.36 AM.pngScreen Shot 2020-01-02 at 10.11.54 AM.pngScreen Shot 2020-01-02 at 10.14.10 AM.png
 
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OK, looking at that, the drive seems to be a bit of a mess. You seem to have one device, five partitions, two containers, multiple volumes, some duplicated. I just tested with a USB thumb drive, made one partition with HFS+ named Kingston, another one with APFS named Container disk16 and then created two volumes in that container named three and two. Here is what disk utility shows:
Screen Shot 2020-01-02 at 1.51.06 PM.png

I did that because I just wanted to verify what I think DU is showing for your drive: One partition named disk6s2, one named Container disk8, one named Other-OLD-Fire, one named APFS disk6s4 and one named Container disk7. I have no idea what is on the greyed out partitions, or what format they may be in, but they are not mounted. Disk8 and disk7, plus Other-OLD-Fire are mounted. and in the two containers are the Volumes, including one duplicated. So basically, the drive is a mess.

What I think is that it needs reformatting and starting over. What I would recommend is to copy off what you want/need from the drive, then using DU to create ONE partition of the entire drive in APFS, put multiple containers on it, one for each Mac you want to back up on the drive, then use CCC to clone each drive it's own volume. When you get done, DU should show ONE device, one partition, and one container for each Mac, in which there are two volumes, one for the drive name and one for drive name - Data (assuming everything is APFS). Then, if you have anything else you need put on that drive, create another volume for it. But keep all of that in the one partition because the container/volume is a much better manager of drive space.
 
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Jake,
Thanks for this suggestion. After my last response, I looked into CC Cloner to see if there was a concern with them & APFS formatting. I gathered what they suggested is what you also suggest. The one thing I did differently than my usual erasing was to unmount my drive before erasing (suggested my CC Cloner). I erased and created a volume and then added 2 more to the same container. This is what I should have done originally, but I don't ever recall ever actually having it explained to me like you did, so I thank you. I am in the process of backing up now.
 

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Obviously this is a much better time to work this out than discover it doesn’t work when you need it. Make sure everything boots after you complete the BU’s and get back if you have any further questions.


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Rod,
All seems to be in working order. The only thing I find different now is the time it takes to mount the 3 container volumes I have on my back up HD. The time it takes to eject them also is time consuming as well as the continuing dilemma of being told one or more of the "DATA" volumes were not ejected properly, even though I choose to eject all.
 
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Not sure why the warning. I don't disconnect my backup drives, they stay connected all the time, so I don't see that at all. When I created the Kingston drive I showed earlier, it unmounted just fine when I said eject all. Might be something to do with how Catalina merges the two for the user. Dunno.
 

chscag

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Just a bit of info using CCC or SD to backup in Catalina:

The external drive (if you eject it after the backup is made) will not eject properly until you release both drives (containers, partitions). You should get the warning "eject all" and after selecting that, the drive will eject.

Do not attempt to eject the drive without selecting "eject all" as the drive information may be damaged.
 
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chscag,
I do choose eject all, but sometimes, I still get the message that the data volume was not ejected properly. Upon my latest use of this portable HD, I went to the D Utility after choosing to eject all and I saw that one of the data volumes was still mounted. I tried to eject/unmount from the D Utility, but nothing happened (no dimming of the icon). However, when I did pull the USB, I did not see any warnings. Perhaps a slow count to 30 is needed after the desktop icons disappear before I pull the plug. Luckily I use this off-site back up disk only rarely, compared to my daily back up on my attached disk.
 
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Personally I prefer having a separate drive for each device. Are all of the backed up devices now APFS?
How do you do that, Rod, given that Catalina merges HD and HD - Data into one drive and both CCC and TM back up both?

EDIT: Ah, now I get it, after looking at Tape's response. You were talking about each machine having it's own backup drive, not trying to split Catalina. Good thinking. Drives aren't terribly expensive these days.
 
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Rod,
I am thinking separate drives the best way too. If I had to do it all over, that would be my choice, but I have what I have, and lots of extra $ ain't one of them LOL
 

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Tape, I fully understand that situation. I am retired myself so I don’t like to waste money but I am also aware that putting all my eggs in one basket may be false economy.
Im not sure where you are but here in Australia a 1Tb USB HD costs about $70.00 more or less. I back my wife’s 500Gb MBP to a new WD Elements 1Tb USB HD using CCC and a second one with Time Machine because she has all of our business records, tax, promotional media, business email, contacts not to mention her personal photo library and more. I would never risk her backups on a shared drive.
If I were you I would think of using the 3Tb as a backup for you primary device (the new iMac), a seperate 1-2Tb for your old iMac especially if it is to remain HFS+ and a second drive for your wife's, maybe you could use the other portable you mentioned.
All up you may have to spend $300 but it's a lot cheaper than data retrieval.
Of course I don't know how valuable your data is to you. For us it would be a personal tragedy and a business disaster.
Can I say from experience that you have no idea how much of a personal inconvenience it is to loose all your data until you do. I have two backups of everything.
 

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Of course I don't know how valuable your data is to you. For us it would be a personal tragedy and a business disaster.
Can I say from experience that you have no idea how much of a personal inconvenience it is to loose all your data until you do. I have two backups of everything.
May I fully endorse Rod's comments. As the saying goes: Data is priceless and disk is cheap. You can't have too many backups and each should have its own Hard Drive.

Ian
 
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You convinced me. Instead of reformatting my portable HD’s, however, I used one of the APFS’s abilities and deleted/removed all but 1 volume. First positive thing I noticed was that after doing 1 last cloning copy to each disk, the ejecting happened more quickly and no message about improper ejecting, even though the data volume did not show on desktop. Thank you all for your comments and advice.
 
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The data volume doesn't appear anywhere but in Disk Utility. Finder merges the system volume and data volume into one location on the desktop and Finder. That was confusing to some folks when it first came out, and still confuses some people who want to go back to some earlier version that is unaware of the changes in Catalina.
 
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