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Do You Recommend Using Time Machine On One Volume Of a Large Partitioned Drive?

I have a Lacie 4TB external spinning drive which is portable and does not require a separate power source. This is normally connected to my M1 Mac Mini via a USB 3 cable but I do have the option of using one of the Thunderbolt ports.

After buying this a few years ago I decided to partition the drive into three: One volume of which to be used as a Time Machine backup. A short while after doing this I seem to remember (please forgive me if I have this wrong), seeing one of your videos where you said something along the lines of that you did not recommend having Time Machine on a partitioned drive because it could cause problems in some way. I think you recommended having one drive used only for Time Machine.

I carried on using the drive as I had already set it up and I don’t think I’ve seen any problems. That is not to say that there are none, just that I haven’t come across any yet.

I am about to reorganise my Lacie drive into only two volumes now. One of these is to be used for Time Machine and I want to encrypt the other before I use it for media storage.

However, if I am about to make the same mistake twice, I would like to be able to rethink my plan.
Phil Hopkins

Comments: 6 Responses to “Do You Recommend Using Time Machine On One Volume Of a Large Partitioned Drive?”

    1 year ago

    I recommend against this. Time Machine should have its own drive. First, you should have as large a drive as possible for Time Machine. Partitioning goes against that. Second, you can't back up the other partitions then. Well, you can, but there is just one point of failure (the drive) so it is a poor backup. Also, you are asking the drive to do a lot more, meaning that it will last a shorter period of time.

    External drives are cheap. Just dedicate one to a Time Machine. Also, don't get an SSD for a backup, just a large HDD.

    Phil Hopkins
    1 year ago

    Many thanks Gary.

    So the new plan looks like using the Lacie 4TB just for Time Machine and possibly optimising the Mac Mini storage with iCloud. I will have to play back your video this subject.

    By the way, are there any signs that a spinning drive is on its way out or do they just fail?


    1 year ago

    Phil: Sometimes. But no sure-fire signs. You can always run Disk Utility and use the First Aid, but you have to have some expertise there to interpret the results.

    Phil Hopkins
    1 year ago

    Ok, I will look into that further. I need to get this properly sorted out in my head before I come up with a simple and flexible plan to deal with possible disasters in the future.

    Your videos have helped me a great deal over the past couple of years and I need to start repaying you. So I will become a small Patreon next month, with the aspiration to support your efforts more as time goes by.

    Thanks again Gary.

    Harvey Picker
    1 year ago

    Why do you recommend against using an SSD for backup? I would think that an SSD is less likely to fail than an HDD. When two of my G Drives (which Apple itself was selling at the time) failed in quick succession, the Apple customer service tech with whom I spoke recommended using an SSD instead. I've had no problems with my Extreme 500 GB SSD in five years of use.

    1 year ago

    Harvey: The primary advantage of an SSD is speed. The disadvantages are size and cost. For a backup you need size at a low cost. So HDDs are better. I wouldn't say that SSDs are less likely to fail. But a 500 GB drive is way to small for a backup. As for failure, it is very unlikely that your internal drive and backup drive would fail on the same day.

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