The right hard drive for the Time Machine backup - my recommendations

A Seagate 4 TB HDD is my Time Machine Volume

Apple's in-house backup solution called "Time Machine" is a recommended macOS feature that you should definitely use. The backups are created in the background - mostly when the Mac is idle anyway - and you usually don't have to worry about anything if everything has been set up correctly beforehand. This includes, above all, the selection of the right storage medium.

What I am writing here are not official recommendations from Apple or rules that someone has set, but are merely tips for you that I have gathered from my years of experience with Macs and with Time Machine. Better suggestions and criticism are always welcome!

Important note: format before use!

No matter which hard drive you get: In order for it to work reliably as a Time Machine Volume, you should open it in the hard drive utility Mac OS Extended (Journaled) reformat. You could too APFS but currently Time Machine does not appear to be 100% compatible with APFS.

Since the external hard drives are mostly formatted in ExFAT by the manufacturer, you should reformat them in Mac OS Extended before use.

Since the external hard drives are usually formatted in exFAT by the manufacturer, you should reformat them in Mac OS Extended or HFS + before using them.

First of all, my hard drive recommendations for anyone who does not want to read a lot

I will of course explain in the post below why I consider the following hard drives to be the best choice. If you don't like to read the whole text and just want a few tips, here is a short list of 2,5-inch and 3,5-inch models that you can't go wrong with. My assessment is based partly on my own experience and - if I do not use the model myself - on the evaluation of customer ratings on Amazon.

Bold type denotes my personal choice based on the price and my experience with the brand.

3,5 inch hard drives

If you can live with the fact that your hard drive comes with its own power supply and is therefore more suitable for iMac, Mac Mini and Power Mac, you will benefit from high capacities and low prices with these hard drives. Almost all models are also available with 6 TB, 10 TB and sometimes also 12 TB. You can make the selection when you are on the product page. At the moment, however, the 8 TB models are the ones with the best price-performance ratio.

The WD Elements is the good & cheap line from Western Digital. The backups of my wife's Mac have also been reliably backed up on this for years (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

The WD Elements is the "good and cheap line" from Western Digital. The backups of my wife's Mac have also been reliably backed up on this for years (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

2,5 inch hard drives

Personally, I work a lot on the MacBook Pro and like to have 2,5 inch hard drives that don't necessarily need their own power supply. I have an active 13-port USB hub (described here with a test report), which takes care of all my external HDDs. That saves space on the desk and, if necessary, I can work with the hard drives on the go - without a hub, of course, directly connected to the MacBook Pro.

For the 2,5 inch hard drives, the 4 TB and 5 TB models are the cheapest when you look at the ratio of capacity and price. If you have an internal 1 TB system hard drive in your Mac, you can do very well with a 5 TB Time Machine Volume. For this reason I have listed the 5 TB models here. You can also switch to 4 TB on the product pages if 5 TB is too much for you.

My tip: never just trust Time Machine

Whenever Apple throws a new macOS version into the ring, I get desperate emails from some Mac users who hastily made the update and ran into problems. Something has stopped working and there is no backup. This is of course very risky, which is why I recommend a 1: 1 backup with SmartBackup, Carbon Copy Cloner or superduper! close.

After all, some users already have a Time Machine backup at the start, but even here there are sometimes problems with the restore and the Mac does not want to import the backup for whatever reason. I've seen too often that people trust Time Machine as the only backup solution and then end up without a backup in an emergency. A popular error message:

An error occurred while restoring from backup. The files could not be restored.

For this reason: Please do not only trust Time Machine, but also make a 1: 1 backup and perhaps an online backup as well Backblaze create - although you can of course not boot with the online backup.

Backblaze is not as nicely integrated into the system as Time Machine, but in a pinch you can get all files and even different versions. In dire need they will even send you the complete backup on a hard drive by express mail.

Backblaze is not as nicely integrated into the system as Time Machine, but in a pinch you can access all files and even different versions of them via the web frontend. In the greatest need, they'll even send you the complete backup on a hard drive by express mail.

What capacity should the Time Machine volume have?

The size of the hard drive plays an important role in Time Machine, as this backup is not a direct copy of the volumes to be backed up, but rather different versions of files are saved over time. As a result, the Time Machine volume must of course be significantly larger than the hard drive to be backed up.

I would recommend that the Time Machine volume be at least four times the size of the hard drive being backed up. For example, I run a 4 TB hard drive to back up my internal SSD on the MacBook Pro, which is one terabyte. The larger the Time Machine volume, the more versions of the documents Time Machine can keep. When it runs out of space, it will have to delete older versions to make room.

At the moment I would not use an SSD as a backup volume for Time Machine, but would prefer a mechanical hard drive (Photo: olafpictures / PIxabay).

At the moment I would not use an SSD as a backup volume for Time Machine, but would prefer a mechanical hard drive (Photo: olafpictures / PIxabay).

SSD or HDD as a storage medium for Time Machine?

This is one of the first questions I will probably ask new users. When I started with Time Machine, SSDs were still so expensive and low-capacity that they weren't really an option for data backup. With falling SSD prices, one could slowly get the idea that one could use an SSD as a Time Machine Volume.

In my opinion, using an SSD as a Time Machine Volume makes little sense for several reasons:

  • The price per TB is still significantly higher than mechanical hard drives.
  • The speed of the SSD will not be noticeable with Time Machine, since it is not just about "writing data", but with Time Machine data is also compared and merged. The bottleneck will probably not be the speed of the storage volume, but rather the CPU.
  • If the volume breaks, it is Datenwiederherstellung Difficult to do with an SSD. With an HDD you can possibly still do it yourself with the appropriate software.

For me, however, the price and the available capacity are the main reasons to rely on rotating hard drives. From my point of view, more capacity is preferable to speed - and USB 3 hard drives on modern Macs are no longer that slow.

I prefer the small 2,5 inch hard drives because they are powered by the USB cable. Here is my Seagate Expansion Portable Drive with 4 TB (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

I prefer the small 2,5 inch hard drives because they are powered by the USB cable. Here is my Seagate Expansion Portable Drive with 4 TB (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

Which size: 3,5 inch or 2,5 inch?

The 3,5 inch hard drives usually have the advantage that they are a bit cheaper than the smaller 2,5 inch hard drives. The price difference for a 4 TB hard drive is around 15 euros (80 instead of 95 euros). Furthermore, very large capacities are usually reserved for the 3,5-inch models. While capacities of up to 3,5 or 8 TB are still affordable with the 10 inch hard drives, the 2,5 inch models offer a maximum of 5 TB at a reasonable price (as of 02/2020).

An example of the price difference: The Seagate Expansion Portable (2,5 inches) with 4 TB costs around 95 euros, while the Seagate Expansion Desktop (3,5 inches) with the same capacity only costs 80 euros.

In addition to the price, the size and the power supply also play a role for me. While the 3,5 inch models are always operated with a power supply unit, the 2,5 inch hard drives can usually be supplied with power via the USB port. This makes them much more manageable, does not require an additional socket and is less noticeable on the desk.

The last advantage of the small disks is that you can use them on mobile Macs on the go, as you don't have to rely on a power outlet. For this reason I have only bought the 2,5 inch devices for years.

Bottom line: my hard drive recommendation

To break the whole article down to a short statement, I would like to name the hard drive model that I use and with which I have been driving well for years: WD Elements portable (2,5 inch).

WD Elements ™ Portable External Hard Drive 5 TB (USB 3.0 interface, plug-and-play, compact and ...
  • The WD Elements external hard drive offers with USB 3.0 a high storage capacity of up to 5 TB as well as high ...
  • The external hard drive allows you to transfer a full-length HD movie. The WD Elements works seamlessly with ...
  • Increase the performance of your PC. No more deleting files to get your PC going again ...

I don't have the 5 TB version yet, because a year ago it wasn't available at a reasonable price, but I have already ordered it because it is still available 27% (40 €) discount on the plate gives.

If you work with a modern Mac and have a USB-C port, you might want one USB-C to Micro-B cable order at the same time. With that one can - as described here - Connect "normal" hard drives with a Micro-B connector to USB-C Macs without the hassle of adapters.

If you have any unanswered questions about choosing the right Time Machine medium, please let me know. The comment field is available to you.


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The page contains affiliate links / images:


  1. Peter says:

    I don't quite understand why it seems that you have to have tons of old versions of your data in the TM backup and therefore have to have 5x larger disks than the internal ones. For many years (!) I have used an external 1 TB for Time Machine for my iMac with internal 2 TB HD (and still had a partition on it for a current CCC clone of the internal system partition).

    Although the computer was used daily for work in the graphics area, the space for the TM backup never reached its limits on the 2 TB HD. And there were always enough old file versions for occasional restoration ...

    Of course: those who work on a lot of really large files in the GB area (again and again) are certainly well served with the really large disks.

    • sir appleot says:

      When you start editing videos, you'll quickly notice how quickly even a 5TB drive can fill up when multiple versions are backed up. It may be that you only have a small amount of data and therefore can get there well with the 2 TB, but my 1 TB disk is almost full. I've already outsourced photos ... I think it's a personal thing that you feel is necessary and unnecessary. Since the prices for the hard drives are quite cheap, I would always go for the larger rather than the smaller one.

      An example: The WD Elements with 1 TB costs only half as much as the 5 TB disk. Why should you restrict yourself in terms of space and run the risk of having to buy a new hard drive in a year?

  2. Peter says:

    Sure, with video this is definitely (especially) crucial - there is just something really going on in terms of data ... There may also be other areas that are similar.

    It was never an issue for me and I usually "archived" old jobs after a certain period of time, if it was not to be expected that I would really have to continue working on them. Layout and image data, even more extensive Photoshop files, ultimately do not (no longer) really appear that way.

    As you already said, it's a matter of personal circumstances and at some point you have a certain idea of ​​what data comes together and how clearly you want to organize yourself.

    But if you are in doubt, you should of course always choose the larger option - the prices today are generally such that you don't have to struggle for long.

    • sir appleot says:

      My wife often works with more than 20 or 30 layers on her Photoshop print files. Whenever I see a file from it, it is not infrequently 500 MB or so. If you then do versioning, you can need a lot of storage space even without videos. But as you said: it always depends on your personal needs, of course. There are probably a lot of Mac users who just write Pages files, use mail, and surf the web here and there. Of course, there is not much involved.

  3. Thomas says:

    Would like to operate 2x external 3,5 ″ HDDs and a monitor on a USB-C hub, is that possible? (iMac 2017 27 ″)

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Thomas! Yes, it should work. The 3,5 inch HDDs come with an external power supply and if you have the right hub that has two connections for the HDDs, then nothing stands in the way of operation.

      • Thomas says:

        Yes great, thank you very much! That sounds good! Do you have a suitable recommendation for the hub for me?

        • sir appleot says:

          Yes, I would recommend not using a cheap hub. I had tested a few from non-name manufacturers and they sometimes had the quirk of simply disconnecting the hard drive for no reason. If that happens while the disk is writing something important, it can become illegible and all data is lost. I have this little hub from Satechi (ST-SCMA2M) in operation for a long time and it works without dropouts. If you need more than two USB ports, you can also use this Satechi ST-TCMA2M to take. The has three USB 3 ports. Both of course have a USB-C input so that the MacBook can also be charged during operation.

  4. Martin says:

    I don't need any advice or tips at the moment, but I just wanted to say thank you anyway, as really good information has been put together here and it is very interesting to read.

  5. Klaus says:

    I've been reading here for a while. Great Articles!

    Now I need some advice: I currently have an iMac with 1 TB and a backup via TM. Unfortunately, the iMac's hard drive is too full of photos. My plan is photos on an external FP and an even bigger hard drive for TM. Is that a good thing or maybe a NAS is better? I do not need access from everywhere ... and I have often read about problems with NAS with MAC ...

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Klaus! So my recommendation here would be that you use a large, "spinning" hard drive for Time Machine and a small SSD for photos. With Time Machine, speed is not that important, but if you put the photo library on an external disk, the program sometimes takes 15-30 seconds to start. That's the way it is with me and I always make up my mind to move it to an SSD. Incidentally, that was a tip from another reader. : D

      My current product recommendations for this would (still) be the WD Elements with 5 TB for Time Machine and the 1TB Sandisk Extreme Portable for the photo library. Both great and, above all, reliable storage solutions.

      I cannot recommend a NAS here, as the data transfer is significantly slower compared to a directly connected hard drive. I only use my Synology Disk Station as a storage location to back up data that I don't need all the time. For example old macOS installers or something. ;-)

      If you need to access the data from anywhere, this can be easily done via the file sharing (System Preferences> Sharing) of the Mac to which the two hard drives are connected.

  6. lil says:

    First of all, thank you very much for the many informative and (for me as a layman) easily understandable articles! I read the newsletter with interest every Friday.

    Now to my concern: I'm looking for the right external 2TB, 2,5-inch HDD hard drive to make a TimeMachine backup of my MacBook Air (13-inch, 2017; 500GB hard drive).

    In my search, I came across the WD My Passport for Mac. Have you had any experience with this hard drive? If so, would you recommend the WD Elements Portable or the My Passport for Mac that you recommend in the article?

    Thank you very much for your feedback.

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Liel! The My Passport hard drives have an integrated encryption option. And the "for Mac" hard drives are pre-formatted for the Mac. Funny: The "for Mac" models cost about 5 euros more and I can also start the hard disk utility and format the hard disk to "Mac OS Extended (Journaled, upper and lower case)". Whoops, I saved 5 euros. And if I want to encrypt the Time Machine backups, I can do that on the Mac too. So it remains the same (also in terms of price) whether you use the WD Elements or the WD My Passport. At Amazon, the My Passport with USB-C only got bad reviews because of the cable. I would therefore recommend that WD Elements with someone else USB-C to Micro-B cable pick up. That seems to be the best variant, which has also been reliably in operation with me for a long time.

  7. Klaus says:

    Hello, thanks for the article. I came across this after my WD My Passport was no longer recognized by my Macbook. When researching the cause, I was able to understand the error that is being discussed in various forums: if the Macbook goes into sleep mode during a backup (via Time Machine), the external WD disk can come along, but will not be correct again afterwards activated. The consequence: the data is gone, the external disk should be encrypted - as with me. That does NOT speak for WD. Did this mistake happen to you too? I would appreciate a short exchange of ideas. Regards, Klaus

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Klaus! No, I haven't had anything like that yet. But it can be at different points. For example, I have a USB C dock in the monitor and whenever the monitor goes to sleep, it cuts the power on the dock, so all devices and hard drives attached to it are unplugged. If that happens at the wrong moment, the disk is just garbage. To get to the bottom of the cause, I would use a different cable with you and connect the disk directly to the Mac. Simply offer as few sources of error as possible. It shouldn't be WD. I've used quite a few records from them and so far they've all woken up with the Mac. You don't get capped when he goes to sleep.

      • Klaus says:

        Hello, thanks for the advice on the dock: I didn't have that on my radar. It could be because I use an external dock. I am currently starting the backups manually and have deactivated the sleep function.


  8. Tina says:

    Hello, Jens

    Thanks for the helpful tips on your blog.
    I am a true Apple layman and would have the following questions ...

    The hard drive of my MacBook Air (13-inch, early 2014, MacOS Catalina) is probably formatted with APFS.
    Can / should I format the (new) external HDD with MacOS extended journaled anyway?

    Can I save individual (small) HDDs that are formatted with Mac OS extended (upper / lower case and jourmaled) as well as a very old one with MS DOS (Fat32) (my Mac can still read!), All on a (new) HDD? ? If so, how should the new HDD be formatted to read (backup) these different formats?

    And with which format should I format a (new) HDD for TimeMachine?

    I hope I can back up the external hard drives directly from hard drive to hard drive via the two USB ports in the MacBook - because there is no longer enough space for intermediate storage on the hard drive ... If this doesn't work, how can I get it done? (Hub?)

    Many many thanks!

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Tina! Thanks for your mail. You can format the hard drive in APFS. That should work. You can also copy the files and folders from the Fat32 disk and the Mac OS Extended onto it. And don't worry: you can connect both hard disks in parallel and then copy the data directly from one to the other - without any intermediate backup.

  9. Jurgen Bosse says:

    I have the following problem since I have a Mac mini M1. I create 2 backups with time machine. 1. on a normal hard drive. 2. on Synology DS413j. When I open the normal hard drive on which the backup is located, several green Time machine hard drive symbols appear. These are all the same size.
    The backup on the Synology runs for a very long time and I have the impression that the time machine is running constantly and the backup is getting bigger and bigger.
    Sincerely, Jürgen Bosse

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Jurgen! Yes, a NAS is of course not connected as quickly as a hard drive that is directly attached to the Mac. For this reason, the backup takes a long time - especially since the Mac apparently also has to make two backups in parallel. And yes, a Time Machine backup just keeps getting bigger. The reason for this is that it not only backs up the last status, but also the 10 minutes ago, the hour ago, the day ago, etc. That means it uses as much space as is available to backup over time close. At some point he will have completely filled your NAS with it. For this reason, I would recommend that you only put Time Machine on an attached hard drive that ONLY contains the Time Machine backup and nothing else. An addition to your backup setup might be that Online backup tool Backblaze. This means that your files are encrypted and sent to the cloud and even if the booth burns down, you still have a backup available here. I've been using this for years ...

  10. Matthew Ludwig says:

    Hello Jens,
    I have had an MBA M1 at home for about 1 week - great thing.
    Of course I want to back up. I already have a 2TB SSD in the Usb-c case. I would like to use 1tb for TM and the other half as general storage. From my "window view" so far, the SSD would have to be partitioned into 2 x 1TB each. is that even possible, or does the apple claw the whole drive as a backup disk?
    In the hope that I have made myself understood, greet you very well and with thanks in advance


    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Matthias! Exactly, you can do that. Where 1TB is not much for a Time Machine backup. To be honest, I would rather use a cheap hard drive (HDD and not SSD) for a Time Machine backup. Time Machine makes incremental backups and for that it is good if you have more space than is on the main hard drive of data. But theoretically you can do it as you want: partition the SSD and use a partition for Time Machine and a partition for storage.

      • Matthew Ludwig says:

        Thank you first, Jens! I still have an 8TB WD desktop on which my W10 backups are located. I'm gonna get 3TB.
        Greetings M.

        • Jen Kleinholz says:

          Hello Matthias! That sounds like a good plan. : D Better than using the SSD for something like that ... it's way too fast and too good for backups. : D

  11. Linda says:

    Hi Jens,
    I'll cut it short, the new Apple operating system meant that I had to reset to the factory settings. The Time Machine backups (there were maybe 30 so far) also stopped working. Thank God I still had my important files on my Air. But now I have an external storage drive with 30 days of Time Machine on it. Is there a trick how I can normalize it again, i.e. how to conjure it back into a normal storage medium? Or is it "drawn" forever? Thanks and regards, Linda

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Linda! Of course that works: You open the hard disk utility (Applications> Utilities). Then select the hard drive on the left that was used for Time Machine and click on Delete at the top of the icons. Then it's best to choose APFS as the format and the arbor is ready. : D

  12. Bianca says:

    Hi Jens,

    I have a MacBook Pro (13 inch, 2016, with four Thunderbolt 3 ports). The memory is 8 GB and I need an external hard drive to back up my data because my display will be replaced next week. Because of the connections, I've been researching a suitable external hard drive for a long time. What do you think of the "wd my passport for mac"? Or do you have another recommendation? I think 2TB is enough.
    Thank you for your feedback and sunny greetings, Bianca

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Bianca! The WD My Password has a password protection function that you as a Mac user do not need. If you like, you can easily encrypt any hard drive with FileVault. With the backup hard drive I would not do this and therefore the much cheaper one WD Elements with 2 TB to take. I would use a USB C to USB Micro B cable (like dieses hier) so that you can connect the hard drive directly to your MacBook Pro without an adapter. Otherwise: good plan! : D

  13. Bianca says:

    Hi Jens,

    Thank you so much! I just ordered the things through your links!
    I hope the data backup works now.

    Many greetings, have a nice Sunday evening and THANK YOU again!

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Thank you very much for using the links. And you have a great Sunday evening too. If you have any questions about the setup, please get in touch. LG, Jens

      • Bianca says:

        Hello Jens, what do I have to do when setting up? Somehow I can't handle it. Is there a guide somewhere?
        Thank you for your feedback and have a nice evening, Best regards, Bianca

        • Jen Kleinholz says:

          Hello Bianca! You connect the hard drive to the Mac. Then you open the Disk Utility and format the hard disk to "Mac OS Extended" (option "Erase"). Then open the Time Machine app in the Applications folder and set the new hard drive as the Time Machine volume. And done! You should leave your Mac on for the next few hours (preferably overnight) as it is now backing up all data. It takes a while. In the future, it will only save changed and new data on the side. I hope you get on with that?

  14. Liana Kapitzki says:

    Hi Jens,
    I have just ordered the MacBook Pro 13 inch M1 and would like to make backups on an external hard drive. However, I am looking for a hard drive with WLAN functionality. Can you recommend one for the Mac? I mainly work with Lightroom and Photoshop, photos in RAW format.
    In addition, of course, a hard drive to save the photos, i.e. the internal SSD for all utilities and processing and the external one for permanent storage. Is an HDD enough for this, or does everything slow down too much?
    I hope I was able to express myself clearly ...
    I would also use an affiliate link 😉
    Thank you in advance,

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Liana! Thanks you for the question. Controlling an SSD via WLAN does not make sense, as the WLAN completely slows down the SSD. So you can save the money. You could use a NAS for your purposes. That is basically what you are looking for, except that you are also quite "lame" with a NAS via WLAN. I had a Synology NAS (the market leader, so to speak) for years and copying a lot of data was extremely slow if you are used to an internal SSD. So the question is: do you want it to be quick? Then I would prefer a hard drive directly on the Mac. Or should it be wireless? Then you can - if you have a Fritzbox - get the hard drive directly into the WLAN with the Fritzbox. Or you can also use a NAS, then you can set up a RAID, which secures your data internally in such a way that the failure of a hard drive does not mean any data loss. That would be very good if it is important data that you must not lose. Maybe you can tell me what you have in mind, then I would pick out a suitable product for you. And thank you for your offer with the affiliate link. That's sweet!

  15. Liana Kapitzki says:

    Oh dear, a NAS is definitely beyond my budget 😰
    After an Eizo moves in, I first have to bake small rolls. So it will be an external 1 terabyte hard drive that I connect directly to the Mac to save photos, so to speak of outsourcing. Is an SSD worth it?
    As a backup then a 2 TB. However, I don't have a FRITZ! Box, but the Telekom Speedport pro plus. But the connection should also be possible.
    What do you think of my plan?
    Best regards,

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      If you use the 1 TB hard drive more often, I would use an SSD. Otherwise, the HDDs are fast enough when they are attached directly to the Mac. And because of speed sports: there are here instructions from Telekom, how to make a NAS from hard drive and speed port. But I have no idea whether this will work with all Speedport models. And if you buy an HDD: mostly the 1TB models are disproportionately expensive ... the 3-5 TB models have the best price-to-TB ratio. : D

  16. Liana Kapitzki says:

    Thank you very much for your quick help.
    Of course I have subscribed to your newsletter and I look forward to further helpful tips from you.
    Nice that I found your site!
    Best regards,

  17. Guenther, Selzer says:

    an NA is a good alternative for backups, from my own experience I can only recommend one, XIGMANAS, you can find here:
    For many years I have had a NAS to back up the data and all devices (two Imac, one IBook, two IPad and two Iphone and a Windows computer) and a second NAS to back up the backup.
    Yes a little, but I only became when I realized that a USB disk is worth a shit if it's the only backup you have.
    Note: Data that is only saved in one place can be considered deleted. Keep important data in at least two independent locations, regular complete. Data backups and incremental backups in between. Then nothing should happen.
    It is very painful to lose data and it is very expensive to read a defective disk. With the system I have named, you are on the safe side even in the event of the physical destruction of one plate in a combination of 4 plates.
    If you are serious about backing up data, you shouldn't look too much at the money here, a XIGAMA NAS can start small and is easy to adapt to your needs.
    Always ask yourself what does it cost to lose or restore the data and what does a good NAS cost.
    If you have any questions, I can tell you more ...

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Günther! Thanks for your contribution. The XIGMANAS looks interesting. But what hardware do you use for it? A PC with 4 disks and FreeBSD on it? I would still be interested. LG, Jens

  18. Selzer Gunther says:

    My hardware:
    *** NAS No. 1: xigmanas Vers., Embeded on 8 GB USB stick, HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 Entry Server - Celeron G1610T 2.3 GHz - 12 GB RAM ECC unregistered, 2 pieces x WD-RED 2 TB, WD20EFRX, 2 pieces 2 TB SAMSUNG HD203WI 1AN10003,
    **** Nas Nr 2: xigmanas Vers., Embeded on 8 GB USB stick, HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 Entry Server - Celeron G1610T 2.3 GHz - 12 GB RAM ECC unregistered, 4 x WD-RED 2 TB, WD20EFRX


  19. Gunther Selzer says:

    But you can also start with an old PC, ecc-unregistered RAM is the first choice. You can also find help in the German XIGMANAS forum.
    Current hardware:
    Dell / PowerEdge T40 server approx. 430,00
    16 gb ram approx 105,00
    Wd 2TB Hd the piece approx. 69,00 but needs four pieces
    Intenso Usb Sick 8 GB approx. 5,00

    You see, it's an affordable, safe solution
    You can set up users and groups with different permissions, stream music or films.
    A NAS is also important, and secure data backup is only possible if the data is not only available in one location. You have to evaluate it correctly, I don't have to back up software that I can restore from the cloud at any time.
    But I do not entrust the many important data that represent my working capital, for example, to a simple USB disk, because if the electronics fail there, everything is gone. You may then only be able to achieve something with a lot of money.
    An insurance that covers such operational damage also costs square money.
    Oh and one more thing!
    Also a point that is not hardware dependent now.
    Who has ever tried out whether and how it works with restoring the data?


    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Günther! Thank you for your explanation. Yes, the one with the USB disk in the same building = no backup, I see it the same way. You just have to think about the operational damage that you would have if the plate were suddenly irretrievable in the bucket. Then you are more willing to take a few hundred euros in hand to cover the case. A tip from a data rescuer was also to buy several identical hard drives if possible. Since the controllers often break, you can still replace them if necessary and still get the data. And of course the hard disk must not be completely poured in ... if you can't get to it, it's all over. Greetings, Jens

  20. Rolf says:

    Hello my dear, cool article.
    You can definitely help me with my problem. I've had a Time Capsule for years and I have now learned that it likes to have hard drive problems. This is what happened now. WiFi works, but the backup storage no longer works. However, I would like to continue using the TimeCapsule as a router (due to its appearance). Which hard drive can you recommend to me, which I - ideally - simply connect to the TC and then create the backup via wifi. Computer in my case is a MacBookPro from 2021. Thank you for your help! Greetings from Berlin, Rolf

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Rolf! The recommendations here in the article also work on your Time Capsule - at least they should. I would 5 TB portable from WD to take. Since Time Machine makes incremental backups, it can make good use of the size of the disk to store many versions of your data. All you have to do is format the disk as Mac OS Extended. I think the Time Capsule can't do anything with APFS.

  21. Karel says:

    Hello, Jens

    I have an old MBP Mid2009 in use. Thanks to the Catalina patch from DosDude1, things are still going great. I gave it two SSDs (500 and 1TB). Some of them have various partitions (had to do the system updates in several steps and also want to have access to iPhoto).

    Now my question - actually I just want to backup the partition with Catalina (now my "main HD"). Time Machine doesn't give me the option not to backup the other partitions! That means I have to backup the whole SSD 1TB (also includes the "ElCapitan" volume). But I don't want to delete this partition.

    Are there any solutions?
    Greetings Karel

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Karel! Can't you exclude certain hard drives or volumes under System Preferences> Time Machine> Options? With me I find a list with the volumes that he shouldn't backup.

  22. Michael Kappel says:

    Hi Jens,
    thank you for your blog.
    So far I have been using a MB Pro with an internal 1TB SSD. For the data backup with TimeMachine up to now a 4TB disk. Since we are often in more exotic countries with no or very slow internet access for long periods of time, it is important to me to have all of the data available offline.
    Since I constantly hit the limits of the internal SSD, I tried to move the media library to an external SSD. According to the tip and instructions from the network, it worked really well. But only until the next MacOS ;-(
    Therefore, as soon as they appear, I'll buy an MB Pro with 8TB of internal storage.
    My question about this:
    Think I should use a NAS with 16TB disks for the backup?
    I haven't had any experience with NAS yet. But since this is likely to be a larger investment, I need sound advice. Tried to check the Synology website for information, but even the "advisor" there is more for people who know it. I also read the article from PC Welt. I want the right configuration / size? Can you give me a tip about this?

    PS. I just subscribed to Backblaze on your recommendation here. Thank you for that

    Greetings Michael

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hi Michael! I haven't had a good experience with my Synology NAS. On the one hand, data transfer via WLAN cannot be compared with a hard drive that is directly connected to the computer. I always found it slow as a grotto. On the other hand, the supposed data security disappointed me seriously, as two of the four disks broke almost at the same time. So there was hardly anything to restore and the data was lost because a NAS is not backed up by Backblaze. If it had been a hard drive on my Mac, Backblaze would have backed it up to the cloud.

      For this reason, I would and will in the future rely on a hard disk enclosure from Orico in which I can install several hard disks. Something like this Orico 5 Bay housing with USB-C connection. The trick with these things is that the hard drives can also be combined into a volume and then macOS can address them like a huge hard drive. The thing is then simply clamped to my Thunderbolt Dock with a cable and Backblaze also backs up the data. I think this is safer, faster, and cheaper than a NAS. I hope this is helping you. But maybe there are other recommendations and opinions from other readers.

  23. Steffen says:

    Hello Jens, would you also recommend APFS for HDDs? According to various technology sites ( it is noted that APFS is better suited for SSDs and is supposed to slow down HDDs extremely. This is probably not the problem when writing the backup, but when reading or restoring. Have you already had experience with this? I'm sitting here on a MacBook Pro Late 2021 with 1TB internal hard drive and Monterey and would like to do without the expensive 4TB external SSD and prefer to use an HDD as a backup.

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Steffen! I don't have any readings ready, but my experience has not shown me a huge difference whether I have APFS or HFS + on an HDD ... The SSD would be too expensive for me, especially for a backup. And if I really have a broken Mac and need the backup, I don't care if it takes 20 or 30 minutes to restore. And there won't be more difference. But as I said: I unfortunately don't have any measurements available.

  24. Oliver says:

    Hey Jens,
    at the age of 59 I (finally) switched from Windows to Mac. So far I've been enthusiastic without end. Now the question about security: I have your recommendation of the portable FP 5TB in my shopping basket, also the adapter cable and the Multiport Satechi.
    You wrote that Time Machíne shouldn't be trusted alone. Can I make 2 different backups on the external one? Or is it better to create a partition beforehand? And if yes, how does it work???? With Windows I know ... Thanks in advance, I will certainly ask more often, Happy New Year and thanks for the great information.

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Oliver! Well then, welcome to the club. : D In principle, you can also make two backups on a hard drive, but then both are gone when the drive goes over the Jordan. This is perhaps the critical point in a backup. I have this with me on two separate records. You can still use the 5TB for Time Machine. I would only buy an external hard drive the same size as your internal hard drive (you can find the information in the top left in the apple menu "About my Mac"). That's mostly 1 or 2 TB and they don't cost a lot of money. Then I use, for example, the (unfortunately paid, but extremely good!) App Carbon Copy Cloner and use it to clone the internal disk to the external disk every few weeks or before major updates. I also have an online backup at Backblaze run in the background. You can't boot a Mac with it, but it saves all data encrypted (including those from external hard drives!) In the cloud.
      And you are welcome to ask more often here. There is also that Sir Apfelot Forum, in which better discussions are then also possible.
      Happy New Year to you too and see you soon!

  25. Oliver says:

    Good evening Jens,
    thanks for the quick information.
    The Mac is "only" used for office work and privately, I bought the 2 TB out of sheer caution, so in 10 years it will be full ... :-)
    I'll take a plate and partition it, then look at carbon, it looks very good at first glance, I currently have Cloud with 5TB, that's enough for me with things.
    Thank you very much for the tips.
    And in the forum I will look more often, although I can't help but reading along brings a lot, I've already started.

  26. Tina Zybur says:

    Hello, Jens
    Thank you for all your good tips!

    In various forums (...) it is strongly recommended to use APFS (NOT upper / lower case) when relocating the photo library. Since I have formatted various external hard drives with APFS (upper / lower case), my question: can I still transfer data from an APFS (upper / lower case) formatted external hard drive to another only APFS (without upper / lower case and unencrypted) and vice versa and read again?
    And: is there the option of encrypting individual folders at Apple (password protection)?

    Many many thanks!

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Tina! Unfortunately, I am not that well versed in this area. I know the two formats, but I have no idea how it works when you move files back and forth. : D But if you find out, I'll be happy to hear from you, whether it works or not. : D

    • Oliver Gatgens says:

      Good evening Jens,
      Disk 5TB runs brilliantly, backup was ready after 1 hour.
      The CCC trial version is currently running, it saves on the 2nd partition.
      I save the rest in the cloud, which is 3 backups.
      Now two questions:
      I backed up my Outlook emails manually, that should be enough. Then the folders should also be there, at least it was the case with Windows, here too? I have an .olm file.
      2. Question: CCC is now backing up, is this a bootable backup or do I have to do something manually?
      Thanks in advance!

      • Jen Kleinholz says:

        Hello Oliver! Thank you, nice that everything is going well for you. Unfortunately, I don't know how it works with Outlook. But if you back up everything from the library folder, then the folder structure is usually also backed up. Regarding CCC, I can reassure you ... the backup is bootable. However, if you have a Mac with Touch ID, make sure that you allow the Mac to boot from an external drive in the startup security utility.

        • Oliver says:

          Hey Jens,
          thank you. How do I get into the security utility? Somehow I don't find it ... sorry.

          • Jen Kleinholz says:

            Here at Apple you can also find the one about the startup security utility, among other things:
            Open the startup security utility
            1. Turn on your Mac and immediately hold down Command (⌘) -R after the Apple logo appears. The Mac will start from macOS recovery.
            2. When prompted to select a user whose password you know, select the user, click Next, and enter their administrator password.
            3. When the macOS Utilities window appears, choose Utilities> Startup Security Utility from the menu bar.
            4. When prompted for authentication, click "Enter macOS password". Then select an administrator account and enter the associated password.

  27. Pierre says:

    Hello, Jens
    Thank you for the detailed and easy-to-understand article.
    I still have one question: I attached a Drobo-5D with 5 HDDs to my Mac while working as a TM backup. This raid is constantly on the Mac during the day so that every hour is backed up. When it came to choosing the HDDs, I wasn't entirely sure - there are some that are better suited for round-the-clock use than others. Which one would you recommend?

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Yes, there are special hard drives for NAS devices and they are usually also used for servers or rather intended for servers because that is the most common use case. There are, for example WD RED series and you can also follow Hard drive NAS search. But for years I had perfectly normal hard drives in the NAS and they only broke after many years. However, all of them relatively promptly, which then led to considerable data loss despite the NAS. : D

  28. Jacky says:

    Good evening Jens
    Thank you for the useful information.
    I have a question: there are four users on our Mac. Does this mean that every user has to be backed up via Time Machine?
    What size do you recommend for external storage?
    Can you recommend LACIE Mobile Drive (USB Type-C, 4 TB, silver)?
    Many thanks in advance for your answer.
    Kind regards and good night.

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Jacky! It's impossible to answer the question if you have no idea how much data each user is consuming. For example, if you have a large photo collection that's already using 200GB, then 4TB may be difficult because Time Machine does incremental backups. So it doesn't throw away old data right away, but keeps it until space runs out. From the feeling I would plan a little more with 4 users, but of course you can simply try it with the 4 TB and see whether it is sufficient in your constellation.

  29. Fox says:

    Hi, well written and consistent with my experience, except for the record selection.
    I would like to make a brief reference to this.

    I've always been a fan of Western Digital too. Until then WD no longer offered any software for raid disks, some disks mounted an undefinable "CD" partition that could not be turned off and occasionally led to errors and finally until all my premium disks one after the other gave no more signs of life. The cloud systems from WD can neither be used professionally nor reliably. Had three different models, with catastrophic consequences ranging from data loss to complete failure. According to WD, the disk should be reset to factory settings, which means that all data is gone.

    In an interview with WD it was said "it can happen, they are older". Yes, of course, but a disk that I only use for backups and that was offered under Premium has to run longer and, above all, the software for the raids has to be continued.
    I was forced to replace all WD's one by one. After examining the individual disks, many defects of the individual disks were found.

    Unfortunately, this has disqualified WD. I have had very good experiences with Toshiba disks.

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Fox! Thank you for your comment. Of course, it's all personal feeling. And I just use the external disk without RAID or cloud bells and whistles. Everything works fine so far. Of course, if you use a MyCloud thing like that and then get told to reset the thing, you lose faith in their support. It should also be clear to them that you don't have two of those things lying around and that the data on them is probably important. But ok... In a pinch, they can tell you that you probably didn't make a backup. 😂

  30. Michael Smith says:

    Hi Jens,
    I'm also dealing with the Time Machine Backup I have a Mac Book Air from 2020 with the M1 chip. When it comes to the hard drives, I'm slowly getting lost. My device has a USB-C connection. I would follow your tip and no ssd. take and the WD Elements hard drive. Then why do you need an adapter to USB-c Micro – B cable. Won't everything then be unnecessarily slower than if you buy a hard drive with USB-C right away? And when it comes to formatting the hard drive, everyone says something different. Which will be the best format ? APFS or something else?
    Kind regards Michael

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hi Michael! If you have a recent macOS, you should format the hard drive to APFS. If someone says something else, then probably in old forum entries. About the adapter: Unless you buy one of the expensive Thunderbolt hard drives, a USB-C hard drive is basically the same as an external hard drive with a USB-A connector. They all have USB 3 under the hood, so you don't lose speed with the adapter cable. And you really don't need a Thunderbolt drive for Time Machine. The backups run in the background anyway and it doesn't matter whether a transfer takes 3 seconds or 1 second.

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