Advice on external drive for back-up

in Genius Bar edited January 2014
I want to start using an external hard drive as a backup to my iMac G5's hard drive. My needs are humble. I don't do movies, just have a moderate number of songs and photos. I just want a convenient, regular, backup system. (I'll still use optical discs for some folders as extra security)

Backup technology has become more complex since I started using a Mac Classic in 1989. It's not just a matter of backing up the documents folder. There are preferences to think of and I don't know what else. I need to do some reading.

In the meantime, here are my questions:

1. What size? My iMac hard drive is 250 GB. Though I'll never fill it up, should I get a drive as large as, or larger, than my internal drive?

2. Any recommended back-up software? Perhaps one tailored to OSX?

3. Any testimonials about specific models or brands? I will be using firewire 400, don't care if it even has USB. I should go with Seagate as I have a brother who works for them. I know they make Maxtor, too. Reliability is the key.

Thank you in advance.


  • Reply 1 of 5
    benzenebenzene Posts: 338member
    In your case I'd simply get an external hard drive of similar capacity to your internal drive. Use Carbon Copy Cloner overnight every week or two, and you'll always have a perfect duplicate of your data.

    This solution has worked well for me in the past.
  • Reply 2 of 5
    reynardreynard Posts: 160member
    THank you for your reply and the link. I found a Seagate 300GB external drive for only $134 at It's amazing how much prices for storage have gone down in the last year. (How many times has someone said that about technology prices?)

    On the other side, I have my brother who is rather high up at Seagate who finds the cutthroat competition and price pressure a source of constant anxiety. It's tough out there.
  • Reply 3 of 5
    zanshinzanshin Posts: 350member
    While I'm a long-time veteran of Retrospect versions, and have cloned many a drive with CarbonCopy Cloner, I've lately found SuperDuper to be a more useful experience for my tastes.

    ( )

    To get a great feel for all the strategies, options and methodologies, I recommend the excellent "Take Control of Mac OS X Backups" eBook by Joe Kissell for $10.


    While a single big drive is a good start, it won't help if it stops working. I found that using a portable dock connector that can connect bare drives to your Mac via FireWire or USB is a way to use a multiple drives and be much more secure. You can get a couple $50 to $70 drives from OWC and a dock connector for about $30, and really secure your data. Keeping a copy of important files like your family digi-cam pix and music in an offsite spot like a safe deposit box helps prevent losing it all if a disaster takes your whole house, including your iMac and backup drive.

  • Reply 4 of 5
    reynardreynard Posts: 160member
    My feeling (fear?) that the backup process has become more complex over the years is being confirmed. But I'm not going to be intimidated.

    Thank you, zanshin for giving me some more options and resources. You gave me one important, but crucial, reminder that some backup files should not be stored right next to your computer. Not only fire, but burglary, can rob you of everything. I'll bet that even some of the pro users could benefit from the same reminder.

    I am going to get that ebook by Joe Kissell. I need to take control of this whole backup routine. I don't have a lot of stuff but it is irreplaceable. My kids are grown and now I really enjoy looking at photos of them when they were young enough to let me take their picture!
  • Reply 5 of 5
    sequitursequitur Posts: 1,901member
    I agree with Zanshin. After using several versions of Retrospect for about 4 years and finding it awkward at times, I started using Superduper. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles that other backup apps have, but it is easier to use.

    Several months ago, MacWorld had an article on backup programs and, while the mag didn't pick it for first place because others were more full featured (like archiving), it did say SuperDuper was one of the easiest to use. You can download a truncated version free. It does only full backups of the entire drive or of "Users'. To get the version that does incremental backups, it costs between $25 and $30.
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