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Old 07-08-2009, 10:58 AM   #1
kidkeeno
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Question Reformatting Western Digital Passport for Time Machine

Hi All,

I am a new forum member and new mac user of one week. I switched recently from PC and used a Dell Inspiron and now own a 160 gb macbook pro 13. I am currently in the process of transferring and backing up all my files on my new mac. My questions ultimately deal with the compatibility of external hard drives with the Time Machine app on mac.

I am a college student and mobile/club DJ so I have a rather large library of music and video files (~200gb) that needs to be backed up on an external hard drive. Right now, all my files are on a 320 gb Western Digital Passport and nothing else. I just bought a 500gb Seagate FreeAgent external hard drive in order to use Time Machine and back up the WD files so that my music/video could be found in two drives and be updated simultaneously. My problem is that even though my macbook recognizes the WD Passport and I can use/move the files within, Time Machine program does not allow for the WD Passport to be backed up (the "My Passport" icon is seen but grayed out and unable to be selected).

Doing some research, I found that Time Machine will only work with mac formatted external drives; my WD passport is currently MS-DOS (FAT32) formatted, so I can still use it between pc/mac. My questions to you all are:

1. How do I reformat my WD Passport to support Time Machine Back-up without erasing all the files on the drive? If I have to erase the drive, what would the best way to preserve all my files given the hardware I have?

2. If I reformat the WD Passport, I assume it will be no longer compatible with PCs but will I still be able to use it when I run Windows XP on my mac via bootcamp?

3. Would you suggest I first copy all the files from my Passport to the FreeAgent and then try reformatting the Passport to be Mac OS Extended format? I am really hesitant with moving my library since it is so big and I have had past issues with losing data via large transfers.

Thank you in advance for the help! I really appreciate it!

John
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Old 07-08-2009, 12:35 PM   #2
trevor
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1. You reformat your WD Passport using Disk Utility > Erase. The format to choose is named "Mac OS Extended" in Disk Utility, although it's real name is HFS+.

You'll have to erase the drive, so before you do that, you'll need to backup your important files onto your other external hard drive. You may want to use a third party program to do that, such as Carbon Copy Cloner, which is free. Some people have reported problems when using the Finder for really large copies like you'll need to do (although others have no problems), so I prefer CCC.

2. If you format your WD Passport or other external drive to HFS+, you can still read it on a Windows PC if you install MacDrive on that PC. MacDrive allows computers running Windows to read HFS+ formatted volumes.

3. Yes. You should be fine with the big transfer if you use CCC for the copy (although I'll admit that I find FAT32 discs to be somewhat delicate).

Trevor
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:57 AM   #3
kidkeeno
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Thanks Trevor,

I downloaded Carbon Copy Cloner but when I try to use it using my Passport as the source disk, it says that it requires it to be, ironically, in HFS+ format. Is there another program that I could use that would be compatible?

Also, using CCC, does the target disk become an exact clone of the new disk (thus, will the existing contents of my other hard drive be erased in the process)?

Thanks again!
John
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Old 07-12-2009, 09:16 AM   #4
Sumleilmus
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one more thing

If there is any chance, however remote, that you will at some time in the future want to install Mac OS X on either of your external drives, then be sure that when you set up the newly erased drive, you choose the GUID partition table before you apply the HFS+ format.

An external drive that uses the older Apple partition table can't (I"m almost certain) boot an Intel iMac. I know it must be GUID partition table for USB, and I think it must also be that for FireWire.
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Old 07-12-2009, 10:19 AM   #5
trevor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kidkeeno
I downloaded Carbon Copy Cloner but when I try to use it using my Passport as the source disk, it says that it requires it to be, ironically, in HFS+ format. Is there another program that I could use that would be compatible?

That's odd. What options are you using in CCC exactly?

In any event, also try SuperDuper:
http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDup...scription.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by kidkeeno
Also, using CCC, does the target disk become an exact clone of the new disk (thus, will the existing contents of my other hard drive be erased in the process)?

Back up onto a disk image. Then the new disk image will just be a file on your other hard drive and will not interfere in any way with the other files.

Trevor
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Old 07-12-2009, 11:06 AM   #6
mclbruce
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I suggest leaving the WD drive formatted as it is. That format serves you well when moving between Mac and Windows.

The problem is with Time Machine. So don't use it. Find another way to back up the WD drive to the new Seagate drive. There are many choices out there for backing up, and some of them are free. I don't know if the Seagate drive comes with Mac backup software, but if it does that might be worth checking out.
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Old 07-12-2009, 11:25 AM   #7
kidkeeno
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mclbruce
I suggest leaving the WD drive formatted as it is. That format serves you well when moving between Mac and Windows.

The problem is with Time Machine. So don't use it. Find another way to back up the WD drive to the new Seagate drive. There are many choices out there for backing up, and some of them are free. I don't know if the Seagate drive comes with Mac backup software, but if it does that might be worth checking out.

Yes, I considered doing that at first; the problem with Seagate is that the backup software they provide is available only for Windows. I'd really like to use Time Machine, just because it seems more convenient and the Seagate model I have is specifically formatted to work well with TM (http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/pro...eagent_go_mac/)

If however, that doesn't work out, does anyone suggest any or have any good reviews of backup software that would work well given my situation?

Thank you all for your advice, I really appreciate it!
John
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Old 07-13-2009, 02:21 PM   #8
kidkeeno
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trevor
That's odd. What options are you using in CCC exactly?

In any event, also try SuperDuper:
http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDup...scription.html



Back up onto a disk image. Then the new disk image will just be a file on your other hard drive and will not interfere in any way with the other files.

Trevor

I'm not sure what options you are talking about; I did not change anything when I opened CCC, just looked at the pull down menu to see if My Passport showed up as a source disk, which it did not.

As for SuperDuper, I downloaded that and it seems it requires the Passport to be in HFS+ as well.

Seeing that those options seemed to be out, I did this: I first backed up all my music onto my 160 GB iPod (copied the video files elsewhere for now) and then did another back up of it all by copy and pasting my current contents of My Passport onto the Seagate. Do you think it would be safe to erase and reformat My Passport to HFS+ format as of now? I did notice that the size of the copied files on the Seagate is about 3 GB less than the original Passport size, so I probably lost a few files. Also, do you mind telling me what other sorts of benefits/cons come from reformatting my Passport to HFS+ besides the obvious solution to my original problem?

Thanks again!
John
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Old 07-13-2009, 02:24 PM   #9
kidkeeno
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumleilmus
If there is any chance, however remote, that you will at some time in the future want to install Mac OS X on either of your external drives, then be sure that when you set up the newly erased drive, you choose the GUID partition table before you apply the HFS+ format.

An external drive that uses the older Apple partition table can't (I"m almost certain) boot an Intel iMac. I know it must be GUID partition table for USB, and I think it must also be that for FireWire.

Sumleilmus,

I plan to reformat my WD Passport to HFS+ but I am not familiar with what the GUID partition table is; how/where do I choose it? What exactly is the need for it again?

Thanks,
John
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Old 07-13-2009, 04:29 PM   #10
trevor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kidkeeno
Do you think it would be safe to erase and reformat My Passport to HFS+ format as of now?

Do you trust the backup onto your iPod? If so, then it should be safe to erase and reformat your WD drive to HFS+.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kidkeeno
I did notice that the size of the copied files on the Seagate is about 3 GB less than the original Passport size, so I probably lost a few files.

No, your WD drive is formatted in FAT32, which is a filesystem known for it's gross inefficiency, among it's many many failings. You saved 3 GB by moving data from FAT32 to a more efficient filesystem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kidkeeno
Also, do you mind telling me what other sorts of benefits/cons come from reformatting my Passport to HFS+ besides the obvious solution to my original problem?

Let's see. Advantages of moving to HFS+ from FAT32 include:
Efficiency.
Reliability.
Speed.
Full native support in OS X.
No maximum file size of 4 GB minus 1 byte.
Real support for extended characters in file names.
No artificial volume size limit of 2 TB (on a drive with 512 byte sectors).
Much less file fragmentation.
Native support for dual-forked files.
Native support for ACLs and other extended attributes.
The ability to install OS X on the drive.
The ability to use OS X filesystem utilities such as DiskWarrior, TechTool Pro, and others to repair the drive (when a FAT32 drive has filesystem problems, which happen frequently, you are limited to only Disk Utility > Repair Disk (or fsck in single user mode) to repair, whereas if you have an HFS+ disk, you have lots of options).
Probably several others that aren't coming to my mind right now.

Disadvantages: If you want to read/write to the drive on a PC, you'll need to buy MacDrive. There are no other disadvantages.

Trevor
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Old 07-13-2009, 05:40 PM   #11
kidkeeno
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Trevor,

Thanks again, I will definitely be reformatting soon; when I open Disk Utility, which Mac OS Extended option should I choose (case-sensitive, journaled, both)? And do I just select the format, press erase and it will automatically reformat?

Also, what does erasing free space do exactly? Should I be concerned about that?

Sorry for the bombardment of questions, but again, I really appreciate your help!

John
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Old 07-13-2009, 07:17 PM   #12
trevor
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DON'T choose "case sensitive". It will cause problems. Odd problems that are difficult to diagnose.

Choosing "journaled" is a good idea. It slows the write speeds down, but only a tiny tiny amount, and it increases the data integrity of the drive.

Erasing free space is pointless in most cases and is hard on the drive. It should only be used if you are selling this drive (or the computer with the drive in it), and don't want someone using data recovery tools in an attempt to get your credit card number or other sensitive information. If you're keeping the drive, don't erase free space. And in the same vein, don't use any of the "Security Options", which basically do the same thing to the entire drive, not just the free space.

Yes, you give it a name, select the format (Mac OS Extended, journaled), press the "Erase" button, and it will automatically reformat.

If you're partitioning, use the GUID partition scheme for your Intel Mac.

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Old 07-14-2009, 05:28 AM   #13
kidkeeno
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So shoot, I think I may have made a dumb mistake that I should have foreseen. I backed up all my files fine and all using CCC, but I forgot that the filepaths from iTunes and all my Music/Video files were going to be different after the reformat. Now, all my songs need to be relocated. I've done a find and replace method before on the filepaths when I was initially switching computers but I forgot to export my library before reformatting my hard drive. Is there any way I can still link up the file paths?

Thanks again
John
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Old 07-14-2009, 10:59 AM   #14
trevor
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If it were me, I'd avoid difficult methods and just drag and drop my entire old iTunes library onto the running iTunes window. Let iTunes do all the heavy lifting.

Trevor
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Old 07-14-2009, 01:15 PM   #15
kidkeeno
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Hey Trevor,

False alarm on the last message, I just set my iTunes folder to the wrong drive and just changed it back. All is good now, thanks again for putting up with all my questions. That was the last of my concerns so I guess the case is closed here!

Thanks again!
John
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:05 PM   #16
ARG1205
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I just bought a wd passport 500 gb and i accidentally formatted it to use it with time machine. I was wondering if there was any way to get the erased files back and make it a fat32 again
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