10 Replies Latest reply: Nov 2, 2007 4:43 PM by Bijoux
HudsonJohns Level 1 (120 points)
Guys, I am very excited about the release of Leopard and in preparation, want to obtain separate external hards drive for use with Time Machine. I've got a Mac Pro 3Ghz with 3 Terabytes of hard disk space, 4Gig Ram. What would I need in terms of size for an external hard drive (I'm not sure if I will need all the extraneous stuff, maybe just want to back up most of the system files, etc and perhaps some other directories).


1. What commercial external USB hard drive should I look at? (I'm not a build-your-own kind of guy.)

2. Should I obtain separate external hard drives for my 24" iMac as well as my C2D MacBook?

3. Should I have the external hard drive in place prior to the Leopard upgrade so Leopard finds it right off the bat?

4. Should I upgrade my RAM on the Mac Pro to 6 or 8 Gig? Is that necessary or needed?

5. When I receive Leopard (I bought the family pack because I have so many Macs) will it install over my current Tiger system leaving everything in place or do I have to start from scratch (I can't believe Apple would do that to us!).

Thanks. You guys are always the best Tech support!


3Ghz MacPro, 24-inch iMac & C2D Black MacBook, Mac OS X (10.4.9)
  • OS2Guy Level 2 (310 points)
    os2guyThere is an "The Complete Mac OSX Leopard Preparation Guide" over at the Daily Tech Talk company web site. I'm not sure they will let me post the url here but I'll try: http://dailytechtalk.com/more.php?id=7060_1_0M

    Very informative and it should answer most of your questions. My setup is near yours with just a bit more ram (8Gig) 500Gig external USB hard drive should work just fine. According to the DailyTechTalk site, the larger the external hard drive the farther back you can go to retrieve deleted files.

    They do suggest you make a bootable backup of your present system to an external hard drive using the free Carbon Copy Cloner but I'm not clear on if they are suggesting the use of two separate backup drives, one for a bootable backup should the floor fall out beneath you and one for Time Machine. Perhaps someone else might chime in here.

    Good luck!

  • adamjackson1984 Level 1 (10 points)
    Thanks for the link to my site. I'd like to answer Hudson's questions...

    1. LaCie (triple interface) and WesternDigital MyBook drives are excellent in terms of reliability. I've owned six externals (USB and FW) over the past 4 years and those two brands hold up the best. You'll save some cash building your own and have a longer warranty. get a usb external case and a seagate drive from newegg. get Serial ATA and then you'll have a three year warranty on that drive. pre-built external drives only have a one year warranty. Consider that when making the purchase.

    2. You said 24" iMac (is this a core2duo?) and c2d macbook, both of these may have 802.11n compatability. if so, pick up an Airport Extreme Base Station and connect the USB external hard disk to that. Then you can backup both computers to this drive. You may want to get a 1terabyte and create a folder (macbook and iMac) for each computer on that drive. Better yet, partition the drive using apple's disk utility. just divide the drive's space in half and configure time machine on both machines to backup to a partition on that drive over the 802.11n wireless.

    3. No, you can configure time machine at any time. I'd recommend configuring it after you've got the system setup the way you want it. copy over data, applications and other items then start the time machine goodness.

    4. No need. If you have 2-4gbs you're fine. 1gb is minimum IMO but it all depends on your needs as a user.

    5. As an MCP (Microsoft certified pro) and apple certified help desk tech for notebooks and desktops, I'd recommend a clean install. Time after time I've seen upgrades go bad (that's why i recommend doing a full backup first). A clean install is also good housecleaning and may help the system run better than an upgrade. Also, the clean install forces you to download the latest applciations instead of keeping the old shareware apps that may not be compatible with the newes cat. it depends on if you have a full weekend to dedicate to leopard or you're in a rush.
  • HudsonJohns Level 1 (120 points)
    Thanks Tim. I went to the site and you're right, it answered a lot of my questions. I appreciate all the help I get here in these forums.

  • HudsonJohns Level 1 (120 points)
    Hi Adam Jackson, nice site you have and thank you for taking the time/effort to provide the information. It is very informative and valuable!

    1. I notice that other people have good luck with LaCie products so I bought the 1Terabyte external. I see it on Google for $322 and not real concerned about the cost.

    2. The 24" iMac is the C2D version as is the MacBook. I actually sold my earlier models on eBay to buy the C2D models because I wanted 802.11n. Both machines are pimped out to max, including the MacBook w/3Gig of RAM. Now my Mac Pro came with Airport Extreme built-in and I have it turned on so my other machines can share the connection via WiFi. That is very cool.

    I was wondering if I would have to buy separate externals for Time Machine (TM) backups on those machines but you answer is great! I'll partition up the external hard drive. A new question about doing that is: do I move the external hard drive to each machine each time I want to backup? If so, I assume TM will allow me to backup manually and I could plug in the external HD on the iMac, and then move it to the MacBook and return the external to the Mac Pro as home base, backing up to the appropriate partition. Does that sound right? Or can I do it all via WiFi (THAT would be way cool!).

    Another question. You recommend installing Leopard to a clean drive. I hesitate there because I have so many programs already installed under Tiger from Final Cut Pro, Aperature, and many that are either too hard to find or no longer available or it would be painful finding the reg or serial numbers. Is it possible to back up all of those programs and their associated preferences/library/passwords/reg codes/ and just add them back after I have Leopard installed?

    My thought here is to make sure all of my apps are up-to-date then, back up all of the applications to the appropriate external hard drive partition, make a bootable Carbon Clone Copy as you suggest for safety purposes, wipe out the Mac Pro/iMac and MacBook hard drives and install Leopard on each machine. Once all machines have Leopard then copy back the working applications. I just don't know how to do that successfully, i.e., which user folders to backup.

    And thanks again,

  • adamjackson1984 Level 1 (10 points)
    Thanks for the compliment. No problem on the assistance.

    1. LaCie is fantastic. You'll enjoy the 1 terabyte drive.

    2. You can do it all over wi-fi according to what I've read so far. the initial backup will take a day or so if you want to back let's say 80gbs per computer over the wireless even with 802.11n. It's great to have it all over wi-fi though and I currently have a 250gb lacie drive plugged into my airport that I use for the iTunes library. All three computers access the same library and it works very well.

    3. a clean install is recommended and not always required. I understand your need to keep the current OS and upgrade. usually it's not a problem and is all about preference. I know for Adobe and final cut you can simple backup
    HD\library\Application Support
    ~\Library\Preferences (user prefs)

    and most of the serials and registration information is stores in both of those places. iWork, iLife, Final Cut, Aperture and Adobe CS2 / CS3 is stored in the app support folder within the library folder on the root of your startup disk. I've just simply saved that and copied everything into there after a re installation and all of course save the entire applications folder and a simple drag and drop brings those apps back to life. Of course, this is a new OS and Apple may have changed that since 10.4.

    It's worth a try though. Image one of your computers like the Macbook (smaller hard disk, smaller image) and do a clean install then try the replace task I just gave you. If it doesn't work just put the old carbon copy clone back on that drive and then do an in place upgrade.

    It certainly appears like you have a fun filled weekend ahead of you. Please execute these if you can and let us know how everything goes.
  • HudsonJohns Level 1 (120 points)
    Adam, I can't thank you enough for all of your tips, tricks and advice. It is always a confidence builder when you have the pathway spelled out to you.

    When I moved from the older MacBook to the newer C2D MacBook I did use the copy method because the older MacBook sold first before the newer one arrived. I wanted to start with a clean install on that one so I did copy back the appropriate library folders/files and the applications folder and it worked. I will follow your advice and make sure I have a backup.

    Thanks again,

  • Ernie Stamper Level 8 (37,545 points)

    Your topic has stimulated some interesting discussion. I am having some trouble getting my arms around the TIme Machine concept, but I am sure it will all be clear when I get Leopard. The primary issue for me is what can and should be excluded. In my Mac Pro I already have two 1 TB hard drives installed, along with two 500 GB drives. Obviously I do not expect all to be included in backup, although I may need to reconsider that, since some of the existing space is itself for backup.

    The whole TIme Machine concept is much easier to contemplate when used on a Mac with more modest internal storage, than when applying to a Mac Pro with large amounts of data.

  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)
    It actually reminds me a bit of backup systems that keep revisions and let you find changed files, except it sounds like it is easier to 'browse' or view, and that it must be compressed, and only has changes to a file or package (like redrawing a screen with just changed pixel information).

    For people that were not backing up; for people with a single internal hard drive ('book or iMac etc). For professional video and graphic users and files? it better have 'sets.'

    The idea of plugging in a drive and asking if you want to add it to Time Machine?

    I could see using hot-swap external drive cases where you treat drives as just giant floppy or... 40/80GB Syquest/Jaz drive modules? only today they are 500GB and above. Fill one up, pop in another. And compressed.
  • Ernie Stamper Level 8 (37,545 points)
    Do you reckon compressed, even when backing up applications?

    Hate to say it, but it reminds me of the Windows backup trail of changes to the OS.

    It may be interesting to see what those who have been offering backup solutions say about Time Machine.

  • Bijoux Level 1 (0 points)
    I just upgraded to Leopard... have 250 Gig Hard Drive... am trying to figure out what size external drive to get to do back ups using Time Machine.

    Another question... is there a way to make a copy/duplicate the original installation disk for safety sake???

    Thanks for any help here.