Can i backup 2 mac computers on one external hard drive

For a Windows-only scenario, I'd advise simply creating a single partition on an external hard disk and, in that partition, creating a folder for each machine that you plan to back up. Backups are simply stored as files, and thus, you can name, organize, and place them in whatever way makes sense to you. You'd then configure the backup software on each machine to place the backups in that machine's associated folder. That'll keep all the backups organized by machine, while keeping them on the single external hard drive. Mac's Time Machine - the excellent backup software included with Mac OSX - throws a wrinkle into this: I believe that Time Machine requires complete ownership of the backup drive, and uses a a Mac-specific if not Time Machine-specific hard disk format.

I believe, and the Mac folks will have to help me out here, that you could partition that external hard drive and dedicate one of the partitions for Time Machine's use and the other partition for the rest of your Windows-based machines. Naturally, there are other programs that can do the job as well, and it's worth it to do the research to find out which ones. Macrium has worked well for me. The key is that whatever software that you choose should be able to:. Imagine that your computer's hard drive dies, and is completely unrecoverable. All you can do is replace it.

You're not worried, though, because you've been carefully backing up every day as I've described above. You have a full-system image and a few incremental backups taken since that are ready to go on your external hard drive. The computer won't boot because the replacement hard drive is empty.

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Yet, you need to run your backup software in order to restore your backups to the drive. The software that you use to back up should include or allow you to create a bootable CD - your bootable rescue media. You make this when things are working and save it for the day you need it. You can also make it using a different computer. When it comes time to restore your backups to your new, empty hard drive, you boot from the rescue media, a version of your backup software runs, and you use that to then restore the backup from your external drive.

Whatever solution you use, make sure that it can do that or you won't be able to restore when you need it most. There's one problem with the specific scenario that you've described: you need to physically move the hard disk from machine to machine in order to enable each machine to backup to it. Yes, it's possible to attach the hard drive to a single computer and then share that hard disk so that other computers might use it.

The problem is that these backups are typically large especially that periodic system image and networks are slow compared to direct connections.

Again, it can be done, but networking can at times be problematic and possibly too slow to be practical, depending on your configuration. And, again Mac folks can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Time Machine requires that the drive be directly connected to your Mac. So, you need to develop a very good habit of moving the external drive from machine to machine to ensure that backups are happening on all.

What backup program should I use? Backing up your computer's data is critical. What program should you use? There are many, but the best is which ever one you actually will use. What's an incremental backup? Backing up is important, but terms like "full", "incremental" and even "differential" can easily confuse. We'll look at what these terms mean. Can't I just copy everything instead of using a backup program? It's tempting to just use file copy tools to backup what you think you need. But if you're not careful, you could easily miss something very important. Backup and Restore with Macrium Reflect 5.

Hi - thanks for this useful article. I have a huge spare external USB hard drive so I first divided it into 2 non-equal partitions using Windows, Partition magic or whatever software, and then connected the drive to the Mac.

After a bit of thought, Mac offered to format some or all of the partitions it found. I told it which one to use, and Time Machine has been running happily ever since. The reason for having them different sizes is so you know for certain which is which as you don't want to re-format the wrong one by mistake The first thing you want to get when backing up a mac is a piece of software called CarbonCopyCloner. It will back up everything and if your mac is capable of booting from a USB drive it can boot from your backup.

Time machine built into Snow Leopard is a great choice because well, it is free again built into snow leopard. That is the only format TM Time machine from now own because I am lazy will use. If there are multiple drives but no backups on any of them, then Time Machine will select the first drive that was assigned as a Time Machine backup drive. If one or more of the drives contains a Time Machine backup, Time Machine will always pick the drive with the oldest backup.

Since Time Machine performs backups every hour, there will be a one-hour difference between each drive. The exceptions to this one-hour rule occur when you first designate new Time Machine backup drives, or when you add a new Time Machine backup drive to the mix. In either case, the first backup can take a long time, forcing Time Machine to suspend backups to other drives that are attached. While Time Machine supports multiple drives, it can only work with one at a time, using the rotation method defined above.

If you want to add another backup drive, so you can store a backup in a safe location, you may wonder how Time Machine works with drives that aren't always present. The answer is that Time Machine sticks with the same basic rule: it updates the drive that has the oldest backup. If you attach an external drive to your Mac that you use just for off-site backups, chances are it will contain the oldest backup. To update the off-site drive, just connect it to your Mac.

Time Machine will update the oldest backup, which is likely to be the one on the off-site drive. You can confirm this in the Time Machine preference pane click the System Preferences icon in the Dock, then click the Time Machine icon in the System section.

A more robust Time Machine backup system just by adding a second drive

The Time Machine preference pane should either show the backup in progress or list the date of the last backup, which should be moments ago. Drives that are connected and disconnected from Time Machine do not have to go through anything special to be recognized as Time Machine backup drives. Just be sure they're mounted on your Mac's Desktop before you launch a Time Machine backup. Be sure to eject the off-site drive from your Mac before turning its power off or physically unplugging it. To eject an external drive , right-click on the drive's icon on the Desktop and select "Eject name of drive " from the pop-up menu.

Restoring a Time Machine backup when there are multiple backups to choose from follows a simple rule. Time Machine will always display the backup files from the drive with the most recent backup.

How to back up your Mac

Of course, there may be times when you want to recover a file from a drive that doesn't contain the most recent backup. You can do this using one of two methods. The easiest is to select the drive you want to display in the Time Machine browser. To do this, option-click the Time Machine icon in the menu bar, and select Browse Other Backup Disks from the drop-down menu.

Select the disk you want to browse; you can then access that disk's backup data in the Time Machine browser.

How to backup a Mac to Time Machine with any hard drive - 9to5Mac

The second method requires unmounting all Time Machine backup disks, except the one you want to browse. This method is mentioned as a temporary workaround to a bug in Mountain Lion that, at least in the initial releases, prevents the Browse Other Backup Disks method from working. To unmount a disk, right-click on the disk's icon on the Desktop and select "Eject" from the pop-up menu.


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In this section of our guide to using Time Machine with multiple drives, we're going to finally get down to the nitty-gritty of adding multiple drives. If you haven't read the first two pages of this guide, you may want to take a moment to catch up on why we're going to create a Time Machine backup system with multiple drives. The process we outline here will work if you haven't set up Time Machine before, or if you already have Time Machine running with a single drive attached.

There's no need to remove any existing Time Machine drives. If you run into any errors take a look at our Time Machine troubleshooting guide ,. Time Machine will start the backup process. This can take a while, so sit back and enjoy your new, more robust Time Machine backup system. Or, bring up one of your favorite games. Did we mention this will take a while? Share Pin Email. Tom Nelson has written hundreds of articles, tutorials, and reviews for Other World Computing and About.

He is the president of Coyote Moon, Inc. Three drives. Each drive must be large enough to store the data you have on your Mac, and then some. The more space available on the backup drives, the more historical Time Machine data they can hold. If you only want to create a two-drive backup system, you can still use this guide. Just modify the number of drives from three to two as you work through the instructions.