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markp99 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

Time Machine Question - from total Mac NEWB:

I've completed by first Time Machine backup (to Time Capsule). No issues. Next I want to INCLUDE an external USB 3.0 drive to the backup set. This drive is used for archival storage for my Windows Virtual Machine's data files (work stuff, sharing w/PC Laptop). I have this disk formatted as exFat, so no problems reading from Win or Mac.

Complication: Apparently Time Machine does not support exFat formatted drives. I can see the external drive from Time Machine Preferences, but I cannot select it.

What format should I use to simultaneously support: Mac, Win, Time Machine??

MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012), Time Machine, Time Capsule
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (262,860 points)

    You cannot use a Time Machine backup drive on both Macs and Windows. The Time Capsule should be partitioned using GUID and formatted Mac OS Extended, Journaled. This is done using Airport Utility. Use a separate backup drive for your Windows system and use Windows backup software.

  • markp99 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks Kappy,


    Let me clarify a bit.  I am migrating from a PC Laptop to a MacBookPro (retina).  The files on the external drive do not need to reside on the MacBook, especially considering limited SSD storage capacity.


    I may need to access these archived client files occasionally from the external drive.  I wish to include this archive information in my Time Machine backup regimen, as I cannot trust the external drive to be my sole copy of this critical information.  As my clients progress, I may add more data from the SSD to the external drive, so the set is not static.


    A secondary requirement is to permit me to share data with my clients (to and from), so a Win-compatible disk is very helpful (though USB thumbdrive might suffice).


    So, not backing up from Windows.PC here at all.  Just backing up a Win-readabe storage device.


    Hope that helps,



  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,650 points)

    Mac OS X can Read from NTFS formatted drives but it can not write to them. Unless you use a Software program that allows OS X to do so.


    So if all you want to do is read files from that Windows external the Mac can do that natively. But if you need to open them and make any changes then save them back to that external you will need either one of those software programs or format the drive FAT32 or exFAT so both Windows and Mac can read and Write to that drive.

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (262,860 points)

    I would refer you to Pondini's Time Machine FAQ for help with all things Time Machine. This is sort of out of my comfort zone. I do not think you can use a Time Capsule on both a Mac and Windows at the same time as a Time Machine backup drive. However, you should be able to use the Time Capsule as a network storage device on both platforms if each computer platform is accessing the Time Capsule via LAN.

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,650 points)

    You don't need a Win compatible drive to share files with other users of any kind of computer. A Word Doc file is the same on a PC as it is on a Mac. That goes for all other file types also. All the client needs is the correct program to open and view the files you are sharing with them.


    AS I stated before for that drive to work seemlessly on both Mac and Windows it need to have a format that both Mac and Windows can read from and write to. Those 2 formats are FAT32 or exFAT.

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (262,860 points)

    He's using a Time Capsule. I think he wants to use it simply as a NAS device. I don't believe it's necessary to format the Time Capsule FAT or exFAT to transfer files via LAN to a NAS device.

  • markp99 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    ...and this is exactly my issue.  In order for my clients to share data when I am on-site with them is for this external drive to be formtted as FAT32 or exFAT.  From what I am learning so far, neither of these formats can be backed-up using Time Machine.


    I agree, a Word Doc is a Word Doc, unless I am trying to deliver directly to my client.  Word docs not a great example, but HUGE databases are the concern.  Email is just not a viable option.  Connectiong the drive via USB is the intended use model.


    Am I seeing this correctly?

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,650 points)

    Kappy he also has an External USB drive.



    Next I want to INCLUDE an external USB 3.0 drive to the backup set. This drive is used for archival storage for my Windows Virtual Machine's data files (work stuff, sharing w/PC Laptop). I have this disk formatted as exFat, so no problems reading from Win or Mac.



    But after I reRead his post I see his problem. He is trying to include that USB drive formatted exFAT to the Mac TM backup.

    It is saying it doesn't support exFAT drives because it may not be able to write that format when doing a restore.



    To the OP.


    Bad Idea to included any external drive to a TM backup system. TM is more for internal drives so if you have a drive failure you can replace the drive and then use the TM backup to restore your system the the last time you may a backup. If you include an external and that external is not connected to the system when doing a restore the restore will fail.


    You are better off buying a second external and copying the data from the Mac Win external to that other drive. IE having a second copy of all that data.


    Basically the same thing would happen if you tried to use a Windows Backup system to include that external drive.

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,650 points)

    Well if I understand your last post.


    If you save a file, calll it .XYZ format extension, from the Mac to that external formatted FAT or exFAT and then connect that external to a Win PC that has a program that can read the .XYZ format extension file (Like a Word DOC or Excel XLT or whatever) then the client can open and read that file with their program

  • markp99 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for sticking with me here.  :-)


    The following mght be a use model:


    1.  I have created a HUGE database file for my client (call it database.MDB), created in the Virtual Machine on my MacBook using MSAccess.


    2.  Before I visit my client, I would copy this database to the external USB 3.0 drive (presumably in FAT32 or exFAT format).


    3.  When I arrive at my client hospital, I would connect this USB drive to one of their Win PCs and copy over the database.   This is a "delivery" for me...and how I get paid.


    4.  When I return home, I would really like to keep a copy of this deliverable on the external drive as an archive of my delivery.  The DB does not need to return my MackBook.  I would very much like to keep a back-up of this file by simply attaching the external drive to my MacBook and letting Time Machine to its thing in the background. My Problem:  Time Machine cannot perform this back-up from an exFAT or FAT32 device.


    5.  Yes, I could buy a second external drive and do something like a Carbon Copy type back-up.  However, I was really looking forward to a more hands-off approach.


    Is there some other format to explore??




  • Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (177,815 points)

    Time Machine only backs up HFS volumes. If you want to back up this file with Time Machine, you'll have to copy it to another volume.

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,650 points)

    If you are using a VM of Windows and MS Access in Windows the external does not have to be formatted FAT or exFAT. It can be formatter NTFS. (No that does not help you with TM backing up that drive)


    You will need some other device (NAS) on your network and use the VM of Windows to backup that external to.

  • newmac09 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Well, I'm a week late and this is my first post ever (been reading the forums as I have a new MBA and am trying to figure out the best setup and backup strategy for both OSX and either bootcamp or VM Win7.


    Seems to me the basic solution is to run backups in Win7 so that you are not "backing up" the external drive but are instead backing up the source as you create it in Win7. 


    One compound question then might be can you partition TimeCapsule and format part in NTFS and, if yes, could you then use it for automated backups out of your Win7 VM ?


    I can see why most backup software would not be happy trying to backup external drives that are only there some of the time.

  • clintonfrombirmingham Level 7 Level 7 (29,995 points)

    Oddly enough, if you're using a VM (I use Parallels Desktop, for instance) all of the 'Windows' files with be backed up using Time Machine. If you're running Boot Camp, of course, this isn't the case. So I would suggest trying a VM first, too see if it fits your needs. Parallels has a 14-day free trial and VMFusion has a 30-day free trial. Befor using Boot Camp, give one or both a shot and see what you think.



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