The partition needs to be about twice the size of the amount of data you are backing up. Or to keep things simple twice the size of the hard drive you are backing up. If you have two Macs you want to back up using the WD My Passport hard drive then you could create two partitions of the right sizes and dedicate each partition to a particular Mac. Aug 09, 2017  Question: Q: How to format WD external drive for Mac More Less Apple Footer This site contains user submitted content, comments and opinions and is for informational purposes only.

When it comes to backups, software is only part of the equation. There are many good tools on the market, but having a dependable hard drive on the receiving end as important, too.

Purchasing the “best” hard drive is all about what you need out of it. So we have two suggestions:

Our favorite external desktop hard drive

The best external desktop drive is the WD 4TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive – USB 3.0.

This drive connects directly to your Mac through USB. If you’re running a newer computer, you’ll see a huge speed increase thanks to USB 3.0.

The WD My Book is ready to go with Time Machine or SuperDuper! without any hassle. You just plug it in and can begin using it immediately.

Our favorite portable hard drive

If you need an external drive that’s small and easy to fit in your bag and go, the 4 TB WD My Passport Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive is the one to get.

The bus-powered USB 3.0-compatible drive is fast, quiet, and rather rugged. While I wouldn’t drop it off a bridge, the exterior case isn’t flimsy in any way. We’ve used several of these drives for a couple of years without a single hiccup. It’s small enough to fit in your hand (a little bigger than a deck of cards), and being bus-powered means it doesn’t need a separate power source — you just plug it into your computer’s USB port and you’re good to go.

Formatting a new drive

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The only downside to these drives is that they are not formatted for macOS out of the box. Apple’s support document on Time Machine gives easy instructions on how to erase and format the drive to work with OS X (for use as a TimeMachine drive, or simply for use as extra storage):

  1. Open Disk Utility (located in the Utilities folder).
  2. Connect the disk if it isn’t already attached.
  3. In the left side of the Disk Utility window, select the disk you want to use with Time Machine.
  4. Optional: If you want to partition the disk, click the Partition tab and select a layout. Make sure “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” is selected in the Format menu for the partition that will be used for backups. Click Apply.
  5. Click the Erase tab.
  6. Optional: If you want to securely erase the disk, click Security Options to configure, then click OK.
  7. Click Erase.
  8. After erasing, open Time Machine preferences in System Preferences and configure as described in the section above.

We have a whole section of our site dedicated to doing easy backups of your computer. For more information on backups, check out our main Backups Page.

If you read my previous post about how to format an external drive for Mac, you know that I bought a 2TB Seagate Expansion external hard drive and managed to create two partitions on the disk — one for Mac backup purposes, and the other for personal use.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to back up your Mac data to an external drive. You should back up your Mac on a regular basis, especially if you’re planning to perform macOS updates.

I did this several weeks ago while preparing my MacBook Pro for a system update. You may also be interested in taking a look at the macOS Catalina slow issues we encountered during that process just in case you also want to upgrade your Mac to the latest operating system.

Please note that the backup tool that I used is Time Machine, a built-in app provided by Apple. If you want to back up your Mac data without using Time Machine, there are also other third-party Mac backup software worth considering.

Where is Time Machine on Mac?


Time Machine is a built-in app within macOS ever since OS X 10.5. To find it, click on the Apple logo on the top left corner of your screen, then select System Preferences.

In the Preferences Pane, you’ll see the app located between “Date & Time” and “Accessibility”.

What does Time Machine Backup?

Time Machine is the easiest way to back up Mac. And the app is created and recommended by Apple. Once you have a timely backup, it’s incredibly easy to restore all or part of your data in case of accidental deletion or a hard drive crash.

So, what kind of data does Time Machine backup? Xfx r7800 series ghost. Everything!

Photos, videos, documents, applications, system files, accounts, preferences, messages, you name it. They all can be backed up by Time Machine. You can then restore your data from a Time Machine snapshot. To do so, first open Finder, then Applications, and click on Time Machine to continue.

Be aware that the recovery process can be only be conducted when your Mac can start up normally.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Backing up Mac to an External Hard Drive

Note: the screenshots below are taken based on an older macOS. If your Mac is running Mojave or Catalina, they will look slightly different but the process should be similar.

Step 1: Connect your external hard drive.

First, use the USB cable (or USB-C cable if you’re on the newest Mac model with Thunderbolt 3 ports) that comes with your external drive to connect that drive to your Mac.

Once the disk icon shows up on your desktop (if it doesn’t, open Finder > Preferences > General, and here make sure you’ve checked “External disks” to let them show on the desktop), move on to Step 2.

Note: if your external drive can’t show up on Mac or macOS hints the drive is not supported, you’ll have to re-format it to a Mac-compatible file system before continuing the following steps.

Step 2: Select the disk for backup.

Now open Time Machine (I tell you how above) and select the disk you want to use. I have partitioned my Seagate drive into two new volumes, “Backup” and “Personal Use”, as you see from the screenshot. I chose “Backup”.

Step 3: Confirm backup (optional).

If you have used another disk for backup before, Time Machine will ask you whether you want to stop backing up to the previous disk and use the new one instead. It’s up to you. I selected “Replace”.

Step 4: Wait until the process is complete.

Now Time Machine will start to backup all your data. The progress bar gives you an estimate of how much time is left before the backup is complete. I found it a bit inaccurate: Initially, it said “About 5 hours remaining”, but it only took two hours to finish. It’s worth noting that the remaining time may vary from case to case depending on the write speed of your external hard drive.

After about an hour and a half, it says only 15 minutes remaining

Step 5: Eject your external drive and unplug it.

When the backup procedure is completed, don’t rush to disconnect your device as this could cause potential disk problems. Instead, go back to the main desktop, locate the volume that your external hard drive represents, right-click and select Eject. Then, you can safely unplug the device and put it in a safe place.

Final Words

Like any other hardware device, an external hard drive will fail sooner or later. It’s best to make a copy of the data on your external drive — as they say, a “backup of your backups”!

One good option is to use cloud storage services like iDrive which I’ve been using and I really like the app because it’s super easy to use, and it also allows me to download Facebook photos automatically. Backblaze and Carbonite are also popular options in the market, though I am yet to give them a try.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of data backup these days, especially when my mid-2012 MacBook hard drive died all of a sudden. I’ve also seen cases where my friend’s computer and hard drive failed. You can imagine their desperation. Without a proper backup, it’s really hard to restore data. Although you could try a third-party data recovery program, chances are they won’t get all your lost data back.

Anyway, the main takeaway I want you to have from this article is this: back up your Mac with Time Machine or another app, and create a second or third copy of those backups if you can.