How To Archive Files On a Mac

If you use your Mac to create or work on documents and projects, you'll occasionally want to archive old files to free up space on your Mac's internal drive and iCloud. You can do with with a basic external drive. But you may also want to consider other types of external storage, backups and more.

Comments: 18 Responses to “How To Archive Files On a Mac”

    Ramon
    5 months ago

    Super advice, thanks. I have lots of old Apple word processor files (ClarisWorks?) that are now unreadable but some with info I’d like to access. What do you do in that case?

    5 months ago

    Ramon: You have to search for a solution on a case-by-case basis. Have you tried searching for “open old ClarisWorks documents?” Seems a lot of people mention LibreOffice as a way to do it. Probably others as well. For many years you could open them in Pages/Numbers too, but not anymore I think. The ideal way to handle it would have been to convert those documents during those years as part of maintaining your archive.

    Carl M.
    5 months ago

    Thank you for another very informative presentation. Your comment about getting rid of clutter on your internal drive really stuck home with me. I was archiving projects to external drives do to that drive being full of “other” files. Finally found the culprit was Carbon Copy Cloner storing snapshots on the internal drive. Deleting snapshots recovered 320+ gig of space! thought this may help other users of that cloning software.

    Jasper
    5 months ago

    I have offloaded a lot of large video files to an external drive. I was worried about forgetting to look now that they were out of their folder, but have taken to creating an Alias file and keeping that in the local folder. Seems to work well.

    WRT keeping a record of what’s archived: I found it useful to do this in Terminal…i think it was ‘ls > backup.txt’. You end up with a text file of the present working directory’s files/folders.

    Ken Vignona
    5 months ago

    Was looking forward to this video. Thank you. A few questions: When moving Final Cut Projects,,do I need to move original video, sound effects and music files with the project? Also, do you move the entire project or do you delete rendered files? You mentioned you do not keep video clips in the Photos app. Do you download video from camera or iphone to the Photos app then move them? Lastly, you always mention you archive emails. Do you just copy emails onto a drive. I just keep emails in place

    5 months ago

    Ken: That would depend on whether you are copying those files into the library already. You set that in Final Cut Pro, Preferences, Import. By “rendered filed” do you mean your finished output? I would think that would be the main thing you want to archive, right? For video clips, I would download them in Image Capture, but sometimes they come in via iCloud Photos when they are from my iPhone. Then I just remove them from my Photos Library. Archiving emails is totally different. That’s just the archive function in the Mail app and has nothing to do with external drives, etc. iCloud and Gmail both have an archive function, but I don’t know what you use.

    nick
    5 months ago

    hey Gary, this may not be the same type of Archive and not relevant here, anyway you can decide. When I try to delete emails on the iPad, some I have the choice to Delete but others I only have a choice to Archive them. Any ideas why that is?

    5 months ago

    nick: From different accounts right? iCloud vs something else. Try swiping in the other direction and see what you get.

    GazzaDownUnder
    5 months ago

    @Nick … on iOS devices, the default configuration for Gmail is to use the option of Archive when deleting an email. But I prefer to change it to Delete (to permanently delete the email). You do this in the Settings–> Mail–> Accounts –> choose the email service, then tap –> Account –> Advanced –> under the heading in gray type MOVE DISCARDED MESSAGES INTO choose the Deleted Mailbox. Trust that helps you.

    Ron
    5 months ago

    This was insightful and helpful, Gary. Thank you!
    Can a portable external drive be included in a TimeMachine backup? I think so, but I wonder about times when it might be disconnected and then connected again days later. Does something like that mess up TimeMachine? Also, can some of these external drives be chained/powered through other drives, and in doing so do they keep their independence and identities?

    5 months ago

    Ron: Yes, it will include all drives unless you specifically exclude them. I think it will just back them up when it has access. But you can look for yourself and see. The operating system doesn’t care how the drives are powered or connected.

    Ken Vigona
    5 months ago

    Thank you. I do use gmail. As to FXP, I do mean the finished project. They are large files. What I meant about moving clips, sound music was I create a folder in the movie folder and move all media there. Then I import from there into FXP. I want to move the project ( I exported movie as mp4) to an external drive. Do I also need to move all media with the FXP project or can I just move the project and not worry about original media (whether it be in photos app or a different folder)? Thanks Ken

    5 months ago

    Ken: If you have FCP set to import the media into the project, then the copies of the media are in there. Otherwise, you’d need the media as well. Do a test project and archive it like you want to see how it all works.

    Ken Vignona
    5 months ago

    Is that in FXP – Preference-import-Copy to Library storage location? Rather than Leave Files in Place? Would that be the best option? Thanks again, Ken

    5 months ago

    Ken: It is up to you how you use it. That’s why that option exists. Some may want to copy everything to the library and archive each library. Others may want to store all media they use in projects in their own system of folders, and archive media separately.

    Keith Flanagan
    5 months ago

    I noticed that you mentioned large external drives but didn’t mention NAS drives. I use a Drobo 5N2 with 40 TB of storage for backup and for archiving. The nice thing about a NAS is that it can do other things besides just archive such as Plex, Homekit or even Pi Hole while also serving the main function of backup and archive.

    5 months ago

    Keith: So you are backing up and archiving to the same device? So that means if that one device goes wrong, you lose all of that. None of the things stored on your NAS are backed up, when it comes down to it. Single point of failure.

    Frank Scully
    5 months ago

    Another reason I prefer Move over “Copy and Delete” is that the danger is you delete a file you believe was copied that wasn’t.

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