OS X Time Machine backup with USB disc as one source
August 5, 2008 3:45 AM   Subscribe

OS X Backup Filter. I use a mac mini with it's limited had disc space, so also use an external USB drive to store big stuff like my iTunes Library, Lightroom Catalog, and Downloads. I need automatic backup help.

I also have a second USB disc attached for backups, but since Time Machine can't use a USB disc as a source, I can only use Time Machine as a method of backing up what's on my internal hard disc on the mini, and I need to do all backups of my external disc manually. As you can imagine, since it's manual I very rarely do it but at the same time the data on the external drive is much more sensitive. So I need a way to automatically backup everything from both internal and external discs, to another external disc. Any ideas ?

Needs to be automated/provide scheduled backup capability
Can backup both internal and external USB/FireWire disc sources to external USB/FireWire destination.
A Time machine hack/plugin etc would be preferable
Free would be preferable, though I would be willing to pay for a reliable easy to use app
posted by superfurry to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Have you looked into SuperDuper? Not free, but it's very affordable. Very simple to use.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:27 AM on August 5, 2008

You want Carbon Copy Cloner. You can set up a couple of scheduled tasks to cover all discs.
posted by ddaavviidd at 4:44 AM on August 5, 2008

Actually, you can have Time Machine back up an external drive.

Go to System Preferences--->Time Machine.

Click Options.

Your non-TM external HD should be listed in the "Do not back up" list. Select it, click the - button (as in, the one next to the + button), hit Done, and start making Back to the Future jokes.
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:33 AM on August 5, 2008

Anther option would be using rsync, it requires some terminal fiddling but is very versatile and usually works really well. A good introduction can be found here (for 10.4, shouldn't be much different on Leopard)
posted by starbuckzero at 6:44 AM on August 5, 2008

Both SuperDuper and Carbon Copy Cloner are good choices.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:49 AM on August 5, 2008

I had a very close call with a hard drive crash a few years ago - I've been super anal about backups ever since.

I'll give another vote for SuperDuper. I use it and love it. At $28, it's a bargain. Here's how my setup works:

I have a Mac Mini with a 120 gig hard drive plus a external hard drive I use for work and iTunes. I have a second external drive I use for backup. I set up SuperDuper to backup my Mac on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and it backs up my work drive on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.. It does this at 4am. Since I have SuperDuper set to only copy changes on the drives, it's always quick (after that first full backup, I mean).

The best part is, not only do I have a full backup of everything, the backup of my Mac's main hard drive is bootable. And since it's all automatic, the only thing I have to remember is to not power down my Mini (which is fine. I never turn it off since I have tasks running overnight). Once you've set up SuperDuper, you'll never need to touch it again.

Seriously -

- unless you're going to use Time Machine, SuperDuper is the way to go.
- if you want a bootable backup, SuperDuper is the way to go!
posted by 2oh1 at 10:03 AM on August 5, 2008

I should add that I partitioned my backup drive into two, and then set up SuperDuper to back up my home and work drives to the partitions of the backup drive.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:06 AM on August 5, 2008

all great answers - thank you. particular thanks to tomorrowful for making me realise that there was indeed a way to get my USB disc working as a source, though it actually also required a reformat from FAT32 to Mac format plus some moving of files and general jiggery pokery. But thanks again, all. Every day I learn new things that make me love mac more and more ...
posted by superfurry at 2:05 PM on August 6, 2008

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