Switching to & consolidating verything on a new external HD
September 13, 2009 11:38 AM   Subscribe

I'm switching to a new external hard drive. How can I consolidate all my files onto it?

My current external HD is a Sony bootleg I got in China. It's been solid but I'm nervous. I want to switch over to a 500GB WD Passport.

8 months ago, I cloned my internal HD with Carbon Copy Cloner onto a partition on the "Sony" and have never updated it. I also backed up all my media files onto a separate (not bootable) partition. I then deleted a lot of my files from my internal HD (which is only 60GB). Since then, I frequently move (not copy) new files from the internal to the external's backup partition to free up space.

In short, I haven't been as systematic as I should've been and am not sure anymore what files are on the external HD's backup partition and not on the clone, which are on the clone and not on the internal, which are on all 3, etc etc. It's a mess.

Is there some app/program (or relatively efficient process) that can recognize "the difference," help me merge and consolidate everything, and transfer it all onto my new drive? Ideally, it would all be on a new clone on the new drive (so that I can boot from it when I get a new computer), as well as on a separate new backup partition for easy access.

(With CCC, you can opt to add to your clone without deleting anything from it. However, even if I were to update the clone using my current internal HD, it would be missing a whole chunk from the past 8 months (the stuff I added just to the backup partition, then deleted without cloning). And I don't have enough internal HD space to add *everything* back on, then move it onto the new drive, and am too broke to expand my internal HD for now.)

Also clearly I have been going up the cloning and backup process all wrong to create such confusion, but am not sure how I should do it from now on.

Thoughts and suggestions? (I hope my question makes sense!)

PS - tangentially related: When I do get a new computer and boot from the clone, could I access all my old apps without needing the original registration/serial #s?
posted by amillionbillion to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I use microsoft's SyncToy. It's been reliable and simple for backing-up to my external drive.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 12:07 PM on September 13, 2009

do you mind using Terminal? you could do this with rsync (some Mac-specific info here). it ought to be able to recognize which files are the same in each of your sources and only copy once (or only copy newer) to the destination. (in this case, your sources would be your computer and your clone and whatever might be stored in the backup drive. you'd rsync a few times, once for each source.) you'd want to reorganize the random data on your backup drive so that it fits into the folder structure you have in your home folder or wherever you're storing this stuff.

alternatively, if CCC can add to the clone, why not clone your internal to the empty 500GB disk and then add from the old backup disk systematically? you might have to (again) rework how the folders are structured on your old backup disk, but that might be easier. AFAIK, CCC actually uses rsync internally so it might be able to figure out not to copy duplicates. (I've never used it for this, though.)

one more option: why not clone the Sony drive to the WD and then clean it up gradually? you could then use the Sony strictly for CCC clones from your internal drive or Time Machine.

in the past when I've done this, I've ended up with a big external or a bigger internal disk and ended up just making a disk image of the old drive and starting from scratch, copying things out of the old disk image if I actually needed them. this may or may not be an option in your case (last time I moved from a Mac mini to an iMac, so there was a lot more storage, and, outside of media, I don't really have any data that's not already backed up somewhere else).

depending on your computer and whether or not you want to keep it for a while, you might think about getting someone to install a bigger drive in it.. 60GB is pretty small these days, and, keeping in mind the size of your disk, I'd wager your system's out of warranty anyway. new bigger internal drives are cheap, and doing that would allow you to have everything on your internal drive and would let you use the two externals just for backup.
posted by mrg at 12:34 PM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think you want some variant of rsync - though as mentioned above, a little thought about your folder structures may be required (though, if you get that wrong, damage will be limited to having a few extra copies of some files and folders).

If the command line is annoying or worrying, or you just prefer a GUI or whatever, I've been happy with Arrsync, which is a nice GUI version of rsync.
posted by pompomtom at 9:31 PM on September 13, 2009

Chronosync is $40. I've been using it for quite a while now and it works really well. One of my favorite features is an auto-sync option - you mount drive X, it will run sync profile Y automatically. You'll never forget to make a backup again.

It does what you want - compares files and only copies the newest, with many, many options to easily filter out files or folders you don't care about. One-way or two-way syncs, blind mirroring or more complex options are available.

And to second mrg, consider getting a larger internal drive. I have an 80 gb drive in my old Mini and that thing seems tiny to me... but 60 gb? For your main computer? Ouch. 320 gb drives can be had for ~$85 or less these days.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:19 PM on September 13, 2009

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