What’s the best storage and back-up solution for my iMac?

Kelesh Naraine September 29, 2012
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I have an iMac 7.1 (2007 silver) with a 320 GB HD. My HD is much too small for my needs and I purchased a WD MyBook 1TB and a 750 GB external drives. The 750 was up and down like a yo-yo. After google’ing it, I discovered many people have the same problem. The 750 is pretty much a write off and I cannot get the content off myself.

The 1TB has always worked until recently, such that now, I cannot get it to mount at all. I recently upgraded to OS X 10.8.2, not sure if this has anything to do with the 1TB not mounting? I use it to store all of my photos, videos and music which used almost the entire drive, not sure exactly how much since I can’t mount the drive. It contains all the pictures of my kids from birth to now, I have no other back-ups. I know, very stupid, got it, but here I am looking for help now!

Assuming I can find someone smart to recover my content, I want to install a rock-solid (or as close as possible without mortgaging my home) external storage AND back-up solution.

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  1. Sashritha Peiris
    December 12, 2012 at 6:01 am

    Get a new HDD and turn on time machine. http://www.apple.com/in/timecapsule/
    While running time machine on a drive you can also store your own files on it. You should by a hard drive with a t least 250GB storage.

  2. Ala' Assaf
    October 28, 2012 at 11:28 am

    You can buy Apple's time capsule device and use Apple's Time Machine software on your Mac to back up your mac. it's all easy and automatic.

  3. Siddhant Chaurasia
    October 23, 2012 at 12:56 am

    Time Capsule is the best and that is what i use

  4. Paolo Maffezzoli
    October 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Tima Machine is an easy solution , just buy a USB external hard disk and spend few time to configure the automatic backup. Keep in mind that in case of HD upgrade, disaster recovery or system replacement , the Time Machine wroks really fine.

  5. Evan Fenner
    October 11, 2012 at 5:51 am

    I hear the online backup service Carbonite is pretty good, but I haven't tried it myself.

  6. Anonymous
    October 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    For VERY long-term backups, I recommend using Amazon Glacier storage. It's $0.01/month/GB. The disadvantage of Glacier is that you have to give Amazon a 6 hour heads up when you want to download the data (and they charge you for the download).

    Just create a disk image (.DMG on a Mac) and upload it every few weeks or so.

  7. Katie Conway
    October 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Use Time Machine. There are a lot of drives like G-Drive and LaCie that will plug right into an iMac and Time Machine just does its thing. And a company called Twelve South makes a holder for hard drives with iMacs.

  8. Theo Reisinger
    October 8, 2012 at 7:22 am

    You might also want to look for an online/cloud backup system

  9. Kavita Shah
    October 6, 2012 at 11:12 am

    icloud...its the best u got...just try it out..

    • April Eum
      October 8, 2012 at 2:53 am

      except icloud doesn't offer too much space :(

  10. vivek yadav
    October 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    use any external HD with time machine...or buy a time capsule...

  11. Ahmed Khalil
    October 2, 2012 at 8:12 am

    timemachine is the official from apple, i recommend

  12. Mike
    September 30, 2012 at 8:16 am

    First I would look into System Profiler (now "System Information.app" within Applications > Utilities) to see whether the external drives are detected at all.
    Click through FireWire, USB or whatever connection they are using. If they are not listed try a different port on your computer, try a different cable. If they are still not listed it may be a problem with the external controller of the drive itself.

    As for the backup solution there are various options available including the built-in Time Machine.

    If you want to backup both your Mac and your photos, videos and music you definitely need individual external drives for that. By individual I mean two separate drives, not one external case with two hard disks. The problem here is if the controller of the external case is damaged you wouldn't be able to access either, your data AND your backup.

    If you just want to backup your Mac either option is fine.
    (a) single external device with a single disk
    (b) single external device with two disks
    (c) individual devices

    If you decide to have both files and backup on a single disk you should limit the space available for backup especially if using Time Machine (which would otherwise use all free space).

    The steps to limit the size can be found in the following article.
    http://lifehacker.com/5685547/how-to-set-up-time-machine-to-back-up-to-a-networked-windows-or-linux-machine

    The space available for backup (regardless of the option you decide on) should be at least 1.5 times the amount of data you want to backup or better 1.5 times the amount of space available on all the devices you want to backup.

    The first estimate would allow for incremental backups and limited growth of data.
    The second estimate would allow for incremental backups for maximum growth of data.

    Chosing a backup solution:
    If you want to keep (incremental) backups of files Time Machine is a really nice option. Together with the versioning done by 10.8 you have a solid backup solution where you can find almost any version of a file you had in the past.

    If you want a backup that can (almost instantly) be used to work with I believe Carbon Copy clone is the right thing.
    You can schedule to clone your Mac's hard disk to an external disk and in case of a problem boot from this disk using your Mac or another Mac that supports the OS X version. Same goes for the photos, videos and music data. You can clone it to another drive which can be immediately used in case of a problem with the original one.

    The downside of this "ready-to-use" backup solution is that to be a solid solution you need as much dedicated backup space as the drive space on all devices you backup. For example if your Mac has a 320GB hard drive and the photos etc. are on a 750GB hard drive you need the same setup for this backup.

  13. mike
    September 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    regarding the 1TB external drive not mounting I had the same problem with an iomega 1TB drive,although the power light was on is was not getting enough power to spin the disc and would not mount ( a repair guy found this out not me.) by getting a new power supply ( about £15 ) it fixed my problem, copy the details off your power brick and search for it on amazon. hope this helps part of your problem.

  14. Alan Wade
    September 29, 2012 at 5:51 am

    There's a few suggestions in this artile by Christopher Breen of Macworld that is worth reading: http://www.macworld.com/article/1156601/what_how_backup.html

  15. Mulder
    September 29, 2012 at 3:20 am

    The smart thing to do is to skip Time Capsule and Time Machine and just get a good backup application such as SuperDuper $28, or Carbon Copy Cloner, which is donationware:

    http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/SuperDuperDescription.html

    http://www.bombich.com

    You combine one of these applications with external drives of your choice and as long as you do it every day for each external drive and store two of them in separate, secure places away from home in of fire, flood, or theft, you should be set. Don't trust anything to "the Cloud"; nobody who offers those services to consumers uses multiple, redundant backups, so if something happens to their servers, in all likelihood, your data is gone.

    It's also much faster to backup to a local hard drive rather than send things over the Internet to a cloud service.

  16. macwitty
    September 29, 2012 at 2:57 am

    For back up I would recommend a local storage and a cloud storage
    For the local - a harddisk with one or two partition for clone and one for TimeMachine
    Clone is great when your internal harddisk fail - then it is just to start on a clone and work in a minute. I have two and alter the clone backup between them, TimeMachine is great at it will back up in the background but it takes time to restall and be up running again.

    Then for the cloud - it depends who "good" you are. If you take regular backup there are a lot of services to use. I't not as good as I want and tender to forget or think I'll do it later why I have my most important folders sync to a cloud storage by Sugarsync . There are other services like SpiderOak ... but the most important for me is that I don't need to put my thing in a special folder to have it synced, as I'll forget it. (Yes I do use Dropbox, and love it, but use it for other stuff)

    Then, to sleep well I do a third back up of photos, to box.com where I got a free 50 GB space. Not very regulary but from time to tim

  17. Rajaa Chowdhury
    September 29, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Why don't you look into APPLE solution itself of Time Capsule? More details : http://www.apple.com/in/timecapsule/

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      September 29, 2012 at 1:52 am

      And you can use the Time Machine utility to backup on it. :)

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