View Full Version : Before it's too late to return the external HDD...

06-20-2007, 02:29 AM
New to Macs so I'm still on the upside of the learning curve.

I just bought a 320 Gb Seagate "FreeAgent" external HDD. USB 2.0 only. I read a lot of old posts about "can't boot off USB" but I have an Intel Mac and, if I understand correctly, they CAN boot from USB...?

That being said, a firewire external HDD is going to cost me about double. Is it worth the money? (I can still return current HDD) Do I need it to boot off an SD image or will a USB 2.0 work? Any potential pitfalls to USB 2.0? So on and so forth.

The way I see it, the USB works fine for what I need: a backup for important files. I know firewire is faster, but if it's just for archiving once every few weeks, it's not compelling (unless it's unbelievably faster). Anyway, I'm kind of shooting in the dark here so any input is welcome, though the bottom line is: can I boot an SD clone off a USB 2.0 drive?

EDIT: Just found this in the manual: "USB drives cannot be used as a startup drive for PowerPC based
Macintoshes, regardless of the program used. On top of that, USB drives
have a large number of limitations regarding speed and – even if USB 2.0
Hi-Speed rated – can slow down to USB 1.x speeds when used in
conjunction with slower devices.
So, if at all possible, please get a FireWire drive!"

But again, do I NEED a firewire? Just having a hard time going from $90 for 320 to $150+ :(

06-20-2007, 07:36 AM
You have an Intel Mac, so a USB drive will work for startup. A FireWire drive is preferred, regardless, though.

Make sure you repartition the drive -- which is likely partitioned for Windows -- using the "GUID" Partition scheme with Disk Utility!

06-20-2007, 12:54 PM
OK, found a 300Gb Firewire exHDD online (My Book, not Seagte :( ) that I'm gonna grab. Now, a few questions:

1. I could partition the drive to have 2 partitions and make either partition slightly larger than my Mac Mini's HDD. This could be the backup/bootable partition and I could use the other for media storage (since my internal HDD is too small for all the stuff I have). Is that correct? I assume I could use either the first or the second partition for the backup, right? Or does the order matter?

2. I don't have to restore the disk image in the event of a crash, correct? I could boot off the image if I needed to, but I could also just run the Mac restore and then copy over whatever important stuff I needed from the image, right? I'm the kind of person that kind of likes to "clean house" on occassion, so a crash would serve as a chance to "start over" but I certainly wouldn't want to lose data (items on the desktop, program settings, etc)

3. Could I use SuperDuper to keep two external HDD's in "sync"? i.e. back one up to the other then run the incremental backups every so often.

06-20-2007, 01:12 PM
Yes, that's right. Partition (as GUID) and dedicate a partition purely for the backup.

And no, you don't have to restore -- you can migrate. But in general, there's little downside to restoring.

You can back up one external HDD to another, yes... just remember that Smart Update is one way.

06-20-2007, 02:47 PM
Excellent. Thanks.

And yes, I agree that a full restore is a good thing, but this is my "first OS X" and I know there's probably junk all over the place. I thinking a might go for a "clean install" when Leopard rolls out (or maybe before) in which case I would want to selectively restore files.

As for the External HDD backups, that's perfect. I want to have one as the main backup and plug a second in from time-to-time to act as a mirror. One-way backups (from main to "mirror") will be perfect. As it stands now, I have to either remember what's changed or copy everything over. At 120+Gb, that's a long copy between two drives ;)

Anyway, looks like you got another customer. I'll register some time today. I assume you all still have full metadata backups? This seems to be the flaw in most other backup programs and SuperDuper seems to be one of the few (if not the only) that create "perfect" backups.

06-20-2007, 03:10 PM
Sounds good. And yes, we're still rockin' the metadata. :)