1 2 Previous Next 16 Replies Latest reply: Jan 11, 2010 5:45 AM by BGFreeman
Schwaben10 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I just bought a WD external HD, which come with SmartWare backup software. Is there any reason to use that instead of/in addition to Time Machine?

iMac, Mac OS X (10.6.1), Mac
  • 1. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    baltwo Level 9 Level 9 (60,085 points)
  • 2. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)
    Agreeing with Baltwo -- Time Machine is a much better app, and it's integrated with OSX.

    Before you start using the drive, you should completely erase and reformat it. See #5 in the Frequently Asked Questions *User Tip,* also at the top of this forum, for detailed instructions.

    You might also want to review these:

    Time Machine Tutorial
    Time Machine 101
    How to back up and restore your files
    Time Machine Features
    Apple - Support - Mac OSX v10.5 Leopard Time Machine

    and perhaps browse the rest of the FAQ Tip.
  • 3. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    Schwaben10 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Great! I just bought a "My Book for Mac" HD, and now you tell me it doesn't work with Macs?
    You wrote that I cannot boot from the WD HD; but if I boot from the setup disk, can I still retrieve all my data in case, say, my computer is stolen (which happened to me last year)?
  • 4. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)
    Schwaben10 wrote:
    Great! I just bought a "My Book for Mac" HD, and now you tell me it doesn't work with Macs?


    No, that's NOT what he said. He said you may not be able to BOOT from it.

    You wrote that I cannot boot from the WD HD; but if I boot from the setup disk, can I still retrieve all my data in case, say, my computer is stolen (which happened to me last year)?


    Yes. You should be able to read from and write to the disk. You just may not be able to BOOT from it.

    If it were me, I'd return it. But if you can get Time Machine to do backups to it, it will probably be fine.
  • 5. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    baltwo Level 9 Level 9 (60,085 points)
    I didn't say anything about not working with Macs, WD said it and all I did was point that out to you. If you want to continue to use it rather than get one that doesn't have its restrictions you're certainly free to do so. I wouldn't. You can also try to use something like Carbon Copy Cloner, SuperDuper!, or Disk Utility to put a bootable backup/clone of your installation onto it, ensure that it works, and incrementally update it (Disk Utiltiy can't do that function). Then, when the machine's ripped off again, you'll have your data.
  • 6. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    Seems like Trav Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
    It does work with macs. I have a my book studio that I use for time machine, and it's working great so far. I previously had an OWC and a G-Tech, but they gave me issues, oddly enough. I have the smartware stuff installed but backups turned off (just so I can use it for settings - I prefer Time Machine), and with it you can adjust the drive's sleep behavior.
  • 7. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    captfred Level 7 Level 7 (26,235 points)
    I bought the WD external HD to use with Time Machine. It works great.
    I agree with all the above comments, use Time Machine and ignore the WD backup software. TM is much better.

    TM was never designed to be a bootable copy. It was designed to be the source for a full or partial restore of your data. For example, you can take that external disk with TM backup and migrate your data to any current Mac or you could just restore your email back to say, last week.

    You can partition that disk and use part for TM and the other part for a bootable copy of your internal HD. For this you need Superduper or Carbon Copy Cloner. (both are free but request a donation).

    Message was edited by: captfred
  • 8. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    baltwo Level 9 Level 9 (60,085 points)
    You can partition that disk and use part for TM and the other part for a bootable copy of your internal HD. For this you need Superduper or Carbon Copy Cloner. (both are free but request a donation).



    If you do the latter, then ensure that it boots the machine.
  • 9. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    Schwaben10 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    OK, I guess I don't understand the difference between cloning and a regular TM backup. How do I do a clone; why would I want to in addition to doing a TM backup? Which external HD can I use for this?
  • 10. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)
    It's probably far more than you want to read, but here's an overview:
    |

    There are three basic types of backup applications: Bootable Clone, Archive, and Time Machine.

    This is a general explanation and comparison. Many variations exist, of course, and some combine features of others.
    |

    _*BOOTABLE "CLONE"*_

    These make a complete, "bootable" copy of your entire system on an external disk/partition, a second internal disk/partition, or a partition of your internal disk.

    Advantages

    When your internal HD fails, you can boot and run from the clone immediately. Your Mac may run a bit slower, but it will run, and contain everything that was on your internal HD at the time the clone was made or last updated.

    You can test whether it will run, just by booting-up from it (but of course you can't be positive that everything is ok without actually running everything).

    If it's on an external drive, you can easily take it off-site.

    Disadvantages

    Making an entire clone takes quite a while. Most of the cloning apps have an update feature, but even that takes quite a while, as they must examine everything on your system to see what's changed and needs to be backed-up. Since this takes lots of time and CPU, it's usually not practical to do this more than once or twice a day.

    Normally, it only contains a copy of what was on your internal HD when the clone was made or last updated.

    Some do have a feature that allows it to retain the previous copy of items that have been changed or deleted, in the fashion of an archive, but of course that has the same disadvantages as an archive.
    |

    _*TRADITIONAL "ARCHIVE" BACKUPS*_

    These copy specific files and folders, or your entire system. With many, the first backup is a full copy of everything; subsequently, they're "incremental," copying only what's changed.

    Most of these will copy to an external disk or network locations; some to CDs/DVDs, or even tape.

    Advantages

    They're usually fairly simple and reliable. If the increments are on separate media, they can be taken off-site easily.

    Disadvantages

    Most have to examine everything to determine what's changed and needs to be backed-up. This takes considerable time and lots of CPU. If an entire system is being backed-up, it's usually not practical to do this more than once, or perhaps twice, a day.

    Restoring an individual item means you have to find the media and/or file it's on. You may have to dig through many incremental backups to find what you're looking for.

    Restoring an entire system (or large folder) usually means you have to restore the most recent Full backup, then each of the increments, in the proper order. This can get very tedious and error-prone.

    You have to manage the backups yourself. If they're on an external disk, sooner or later it will get full, and you have to do something, like figure out what to delete. If they're on removable media, you have to store them somewhere appropriate and keep track of them.
    |

    _*TIME MACHINE*_

    Advantages

    Similar to an archive, TM keeps copies of everything currently on your system, plus changed/deleted items, on an external disk or Time Capsule.

    Like many Archive apps, it first copies everything on your system, then does incremental backups of additions and changes. But TM's magic is, each backup appears to be a full one: a complete copy of everything on your system at the time of the backup.

    It uses an internal OSX log of what's changed to quickly determine what to copy, so most users can let it do it's hourly incremental backups without much effect on system performance. This means you have a much better chance to recover an item that was changed or deleted in error, or corrupted.

    Recovery of individual items is quite easy, via the TM interface. You don't have to find and mount media, or dig through many files to find what you're looking for.

    You can also recover your entire system to the exact state it was in at the time of any backup, even it that's a previous version of OSX.

    TM manages it's space for you, automatically. When your backup disk gets near full, TM will delete your oldest backup(s) to make room for new ones. But it will never delete it's copy of anything that's still on your internal HD, or was there at the time of any remaining backup. So all that's actually deleted are copies of items that were changed or deleted long ago.

    Disadvantages

    It's not bootable. If your internal HD fails, you can't boot directly from your TM backups. You must restore them, either to your repaired/replaced internal HD or an external disk. This is a fairly simple, but of course lengthy, procedure.

    TM doesn't keep it's copies of changed/deleted items forever, and you're usually not notified when it deletes them.

    It is fairly complex, and somewhat new, so may be a bit less reliable than some others.
    |

    RECOMMENDATION

    For most non-professional users, TM is simple, workable, and maintenance-free. But it does have it's disadvantages.

    That's why many folks use both Time Machine and a bootable clone, to have two, independent backups, with the advantages of both. If one fails, the other remains. If there's room, these can be in separate partitions of the same external drive, but it's a bit safer to have them on separate drives.
    |

    _*OFF-SITE BACKUPS*_

    As great as external drives are, they may not protect you from fire, flood, theft, or direct lightning strike on your power lines. So it's an excellent idea to get something off-site, to your safe deposit box, workplace, relative's house, etc.

    There are many ways to do that, depending on how much data you have, how often it changes, how valuable it is, and your level of paranoia.

    One of the the best strategies is to follow the above recommendation, but with a pair of portable externals, each 4 or more times the size of your data. Each has one partition the same size as your internal HD for a "bootable clone" and another with the remainder for TM.

    Use one drive for a week or so, then take it off-site and swap with the other. You do have to tell TM when you swap drives, via TM Preferences > Change Disk; and you shouldn't go more than about 10 days between swaps.

    There are other options, instead of the dual drives, or in addition to them. Your off-site backups don't necessarily have to be full backups, but can be just copies of critical information.

    If you have a MobileMe account, you can use Apple's Backup app to get relatively-small amounts of data (such as Address book, preferences, settings, etc.) off to iDisk daily. If not, you can use a 3rd-party service such as Mozy.

    You can also copy data to CDs or DVDs and take them off-site. Re-copy them every year or two, as their longevity is questionable.

    Backup strategies are not a "One Size Fits All" sort of thing. What's best varies by situation and preference.

    Just as an example, I use TM plus a CarbonCopyCloner clone (updated daily, while I'm snoozing) locally, plus small daily Backups to iDisk, plus some other things to DVD/RWs in my safe deposit box. Probably overkill, but as many of us have learned over the years, backups are one area where +Paranoia is Prudent!+
  • 11. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    Schwaben10 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi Pondini,
    Thanks a bunch--this is very helpful. So TM cannot do a clone, right? For this I need one of the 3d party apps listed above. And can you suggest where I can find a list of HDs that will work? (I would have thought that a "My Book for Mac", sold at the Palo Alto Apple store, should have been compatible!)
    And now that I have to return this WD HD, is there a way to securely erase all my TM backup from the WD HD without erasing the WD Smartware software that's already on it?
    Or, what do you think about "Seems' like Trav"'s comment above--can I use Smartware to correct the WD HD's sleep function, and then use this drive for both clone and TM?
  • 12. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    Schwaben10 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Can you use Smartware to turn off the WD's sleep function, and then use this drive for both a clone and TM?
  • 13. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)
    Schwaben10 wrote:
    (I would have thought that a "My Book for Mac", sold at the Palo Alto Apple store, should have been compatible!)


    It may work, and it may boot your Mac. But if WD doesn't support it . . .

    And now that I have to return this WD HD, is there a way to securely erase all my TM backup from the WD HD without erasing the WD Smartware software that's already on it?


    Is that in a different partition? If so, use Disk Utility (in your Applications/Utilities folder) to erase only the TM partition. Select +Security Options+ then +Zero Out Data.+

    Or, what do you think about "Seems' like Trav"'s comment above--can I use Smartware to correct the WD HD's sleep function, and then use this drive for both clone and TM?


    Maybe. I don't have one. Some folks swear by WDs, some say they're all "junk" (including the folks at CarbonCopyCloner -- check out their site: http://forums.bombich.com/viewtopic.php?t=14059&highlight=western+digital).

    All I know is what WD says about booting, and the fact that we see a lot of problems with WDs here. Whether there are more problems as a percentage of their sales than other makes is not clear.
  • 14. Re: Time Machine or WD SmartWare
    Schwaben10 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    This thing's giving me more and more problems. Any suggestions on external HDs that work best with TM?
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