Why aren’t movies being backed up from my Mac to my external hard drive?

Mitch P July 19, 2013
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I backed up the entire data of my mid-2011 MacBook Air onto a mac-formatted WD MyPassport EHD. 86 GB was the total, mirroring the Mac HD Flash Drive. After 2 hours of backing up, I went to look at the contents of the EHD. It has 86 GB of “back-up” and not a single movie which is what I really wanted to transfer in the first place.–I want to free up space to download more movies, all of which are on iTunes. Help?

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  1. MakeUseOf TechGuy
    July 22, 2013 at 9:11 am

    You;re not really making any sense.

    If you backed up with Time Machine, those files aren't accessible - they're a backup. You use Time Machine to restore them when they go missing or your drive dies.

    If you're wanting to move iTunes files somewhere else, you can do - my article on this will be published soon in fact - but you need to move the whole library, not just the movies.

    If you have the movies as a separate file, and not a part of iTunes library - you can create a data partition on your external drive and just copy/move the files there, but you cannot use the same partition as you have Time Machine using.

  2. Bruce E
    July 19, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    What did you use to perform the backup? Most backup utilities store data in a different format than what is on the drive you are backing up; it is not a simple file copy operation. If you used Disk Utility to do the job, I would imagine you have a single .dmg file of your entire hard drive. If you used the Backup application, again I would suspect you would end up with a single file (possibly created by ditto in the background) that may be a compressed form of the files you backed up. Since your original HD usage and the backup size are either the same or pretty close, I believe what you have is a single disk image file of everything on your system (every used block on your hard drive recorded in a single "backup" file). If that is truly the case, all of your movies have been backed up, you can't just access them directly from the backup media.

    If you are simply looking to relocate existing files, you are not really doing a backup and should not be using a backup utility for the job. And if iTunes for Mac is like the Windows version, you can only have one iTunes Media folder, so simply moving the contents of your media folder to the external drive would end up in moving them completely out of iTunes, I really don't see that working well. What you could do though, is to keep the external drive connected all the time and move the entire iTunes library to the external drive and changing your preferences to look there for all of that content instead of having some of it on the local hard drive and some of it on the external drive.

    • Mitch P.
      July 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Thanks, Bruce. Sorry, I forgot to mention that I backed up everything using Apple's Time Machine which is highly automated and has, as far as I can tell, few/no "manual" or customizing options--it simply back up everything automatically to the chosen location: the EHD.

      After trying other options I think you're right; I didn't really want or intend to back up everything, I just wanted to copy/move all my movies on iTunes to free up HD space. I've now done that which is why I posted the second question: The movies are on the EHD and were automatically converted (?) to Flip4Mac. I tried to play a movie from the EHD and all I got was a gray screen. So I'm still stuck watching shows on iTunes (HD) and have unwatchable copies on the EHD. Help again?