View Full Version : Use external HD to back up Mac and Windows machines
July 9th, 2011, 07:07 AM
I'm thinking of getting this external Firewire HD (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B002EC9JSG/ref=s9_simh_gw_p147_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-4&pf_rd_r=0P7DR9F589T2QWPNRTPG&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=467128133&pf_rd_i=468294) to backup an iMac (via Carbon Copy Cloner under Tiger), and wondering whether it can also be used, when partitioned, to back up a Windows (XP Professional) laptop I also use, via USB? It's certainly large enough.
Or would the formatting of the HD prevent it being used for both systems?
And for a bonus point (sorry, realise this is a Mac forum!) would the 'on board' XP software, which I believe is called 'backup', suffice to simply make what I know in the Mac world as a 'bootable clone'?
July 9th, 2011, 08:03 AM
After you partition the drive, the partitions may be independently formatted. However, I would recommend that you use dedicated external drives for each computer. Think about it. Drives fail. Do you really want the failure of one drive to take down two computers?
July 9th, 2011, 10:04 PM
I use one external hd to backup selected folders in Mac os and selected folders in Xp running in VM Fusion. I use Silverkeeper to schedule and run the backups. Works great.I do not see the need to backup say the complete system folder or the complete Applications folder.
July 10th, 2011, 05:24 AM
However, I would recommend that you use dedicated external drives for each computer. Think about it. Drives fail. Do you really want the failure of one drive to take down two computers?
Thanks for the reply. Good tip re: partitioning. Not sure how the failure of the backup drive would take down two computers - unless they happened to simultaneously fail, but perhaps I've misunderstood. My thinking was that a bootable backup for the PC and Mac would be better than no backup, albeit on one external disk rather than two.
July 10th, 2011, 09:48 AM
Thanks for the reply. Good tip re: partitioning. Not sure how the failure of the backup drive would take down two computers - unless they happened to simultaneously fail, but perhaps I've misunderstood. My thinking was that a bootable backup for the PC and Mac would be better than no backup, albeit on one external disk rather than two.It's called a Perfect Storm. The purpose of a backup is not for the expected event. A hard drive failure is an extremely rare event. The failure of an external hard drive is no less probable than an internal drive. [My personal experience is that single partitions on multiply-partitioned drives fail more often that the drives themselves.] Just because you label a drive Backup does not magically make it more durable than your working drive. If your backup drive fails, then you lose the partitions on the drive. In your case, you would lose the backups for two computers.
Let us get back to the nature and purpose of a backup. A backup is insurance against a failure of your hard drive. Best practices dictate that you have at least two. One backup is local. The other is kept in a remote location. This is for each computer. This means that no single event can take-out your data. Fire. Storms. Theft. There are many low-probability events that have the potential to take-out multiple computers and multiple drives. If you concentrate your data into smaller devices in a single location, then you decrease the effectiveness of measures that limit the damage caused by these low-probability events.
July 10th, 2011, 10:49 AM
I keep three backup drives. One is for Time Machine. It is my routine backup when I want to recover a file or something. The other two drives are for SuperDuper! clones. I alternate these drives, making a backup more or less at the first and the middle of each month. One drive is off site. The other is on the desk, but with neither the power nor the signal cable plugged in except when actually using the drive.
The reason for wanting a bootable clone is in case there is a need to trouble shoot the internal drive. The reason for not plugging in the local clone is because we get a lot of thunderstorms and, despite everything being on either a surge protector or an APC UPS and the Internet and TV signal coming in over fiber instead of copper, I still lost an EyeTV box the other day, though nothing else was damaged. Better safe than sorry.
July 10th, 2011, 11:32 AM
Thanks for everyone's thoughts. I appreciate that this is about what level of risk I consider to be 'acceptable' given the tasks that these particular machines are used for. For my main machine, which is neither of the two mentioned in the original post, I may well consider a further backup disk to the one I already maintain, and keep it off site - somewhere. Good point.