External Hard Drive Advice - Backups and Partitions

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Darren Lewis, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. Darren Lewis

    Darren Lewis Supporting Actor

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    I'm currently using a Seagate 320Gb USB2 drive for TimeMachine only, but I'd also like to be able to create SuperDuper bootable images and an Aperture Vault for my photos.

    I've got a few questions though.

    Am I right in thinking that you can only boot off an external firewire drive, not a USB 2 drive?

    If so, and I get a new firewire drive, can you boot from the FW800 port - I've read some good reviews on the Western Digital MyBook Studio Edition (the silver one with firewire 400 and 800 ports as well as USB2).

    Is it OK to parition the firewire drive, eg in to three of four drives - one for Time Machine, one for the SuperDuper image and the other for Aperture's Vault (and maybe a fourth partition for dmg files)? Could I still boot off it in that case?

    I'm hoping it is, as I don't really want to have to have three external drives for TM, Superduper and Vault.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    If you're using an Intel based Mac you can boot off USB or Firewire.
     
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    I have used a SuperDuper to boot off of a USB external the last
    time I had to perform a restore.
     
  4. Darren Lewis

    Darren Lewis Supporting Actor

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    Great, so I don't need firewire (the firewire versions of external drives tend to be more expensive).

    Second part, can I partition the external drive and still get it to work with SuperDuper - ie boot off the partition?
     
  5. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Darren, read a little closer. You can only boot off a usb2 drive if you have an Intel Mac. Otherwise, it has to be Firewire.

    Beyond that, yes, you can create partitions and boot off one partition. To be completely accurate, SuperDuper does not create an image, but an exact clone of the drive. I have 2 Macs and use 1 FireWire drive with 3 partitions to back them up plus another drive. You can boot from a partition by connecting the drive, choosing a valid partition as the startup drive and restarting. There are other options as well for choosing among multiple valid drives when booting arather than in advance.
     
  6. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

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    As has been mentioned, Intel Macs can boot from an external USB drive. More important in this context, however, is that you need to use the correct way of partitioning your drive. If you have an Intel Mac, you need to use the GUID Partition Table (GPT), for PowerPC it needs to be the old Apple Partition Map (APM). Find the setting in the partitioning section of Disk Utility behind the "Options" button.

    -Christian

    PS: Firewire 800 drives rock!
     
  7. Darren Lewis

    Darren Lewis Supporting Actor

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    Thanks guys. I've got an Intel iMac (sorry, should have mentioned that!).

    I've only ever partitioned drives when I was using Windows XP previously and had to use 3rd party software to do it without losing data.

    Am I right in thinking the Apple Disk Utility can repartition without losing data (I'll backup first just to be sure though)?

    I then partition the drive into a couple primary partitions (if I remember, that's what I did with Windows but you can only have four primary partitions on a drive).

    Thanks.
     
  8. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Christian, thanks for the info on the Intel partitions. Does that mean you can't make bootable partitions on the same drive for both PPC and Intel Macs?

    Darren, I believe the 10.5 Disk Utility can create partitions without reformatting, but the idea makes me uneasy. Probably just because it is new. I always take the opportunity to zero all the data on a drive when I have it, so I do it if I am creating partitions.
     
  9. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

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    It's possible, but anything but trivial and not for the faint of heart. Check out this page called Intel-based Mac Boot Incompatibility. Further down on the page is an update about how to go about creating a drive with two partitions, one being able to boot an Intel Mac, the other a PowerPC-based one.

    -Christian
     
  10. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I'm not going to worry about it, I was just curious. At work yesterday I re-did my backup drive. I use an Intel Mac and had no idea about the partition scheme. I never bothered actually trying to boot from the backup. If something had happened I still would have been able to restore, just not as easily.
     
  11. Darren Lewis

    Darren Lewis Supporting Actor

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    Can any USB2 or Firewire drive be used to boot an Intel Mac? There's a review on Amazon.co.uk for the WD MyBook SE which says it can't be used to boot a mac.

    Are only certain drives compatible as boot drives?
     
  12. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I don't know a reason any drive shouldn't work.
     
  13. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    It may be an older motorola based Mac they are talking about. I am with John on this one. You should be able to get a WD MyBook or similar and they will works just fine for you.

    I use a 750G MyBook for TimeMachine and it works without a hitch.
     
  14. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

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    I would assume that a drive from the big manufacturers should work just fine. However, I did own an enclosure at one point whose FW chipset did not support booting on the Mac. Needless to say I got rid of it and got something with an Oxford chipset (generally regarded as the best FW chipsets out there) and that solved it.

    But I have a hard time believing a WD drive has similar problems. Maybe someone is just trying to boot a PowerPC Mac via USB. That will not work, period.

    -Christian
     
  15. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I too read somewhere (lost the reference) that not all Firewire chipsets support booting for Macs. I have an Intel Mac (Macbook Pro 2.33GHz) and can't boot from my Western Digital MyBook from a couple of years ago (it had Firewire 400). I ensured that I had formatted correctly. Still no go. But then I bought an external HD from macsales.com, which uses the Oxford chipset, and boot from that drive regularly when I'm cloning back and forth from drive to drive (to defrag).
     
  16. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Yeah, I imagine there is always a possibility. There are a lot of bad chipsets out there.
     

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