Nov 20, 2017  If you read my previous post about how to format an external hard drive, you know that I bought a 2TB Seagate Expansion external drive and managed to create two partitions on the disk — one for Mac backup purposes, and the other for personal use. In this article, I’m going to show you how to backup your Mac data to an external drive.You should backup your Mac on a regular basis.

BestExternal Hard Drives for MaciMore2019

When it comes to storing data, personal information, and essential documents, you can never be too safe. External hard drives are not only useful for storing data but are an excellent way to transport files from one location to another. When you take into account price, ease of use, and portability, the Seagate Backup Plus Slim is the most reliable hard drive you can carry around with you at all times.

Best Overall: Seagate Backup Plus Slim (2 TB)

If you want a reliable external hard drive that has a decent amount of storage, is super easy to carry around and has a very affordable price tag, the Seagate Backup Plus Slim is the best option for most people. Formatted for Windows and Mac right out of the box, it's easy to carry all your essential documents from desktop to laptop without missing a beat.

The Seagate Dashboard back up system is a fantastic simple tool that can let you schedule backups to ensure you never miss any critical files you need in case something terrible happens to your computer. You can set automatic backups daily, weekly, or monthly, and change the frequency whenever you want.

Seagate also throws in a one-year complimentary subscription to Mylio Create. This can help you wrangle your photo library if you don't already use some photo managing tool, and a two-month membership to Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Great backup software
  • USB 3.0
  • Metal enclosure

Best Overall

Seagate Backup Plus Slim (2 TB)

Reliable, portable, and affordable.

Don't worry about lengthy setups or formatting procedures. Plug in the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB which is formatted for Mac right out of the packaging.

Best USB-C hard drive: Samsung T5 Portable SSD (1 TB)

This small compact SSD drive from Samsung comes with both a USB-C to USB-C cable and a USB-C to USB-A, meaning it's perfect to use with your MacBook or Mac.

Its fast 540 MB/s read and write speeds are more than enough to transfer any file. And should be able to store all your photo and video files with ease thanks to its straightforward software. Plus, if you're worried about encryption, the Samsung T5 Portable SSD has you covered with an optional password to launch the drive, and AES 256-bit hardware encryption on all your files.

Pros:

  • USB-C
  • SSD
  • Super compact
  • AES 256-bit hardware encryption

Best USB-C

Samsung T5 Portable SSD (1 TB)

Fast and encrypted

With 540 MB/s read and write speeds the Samsung T5 Portable SSD is fast enough for photographers and videographers to transport all their work.

Compatible with Time Machine right out of the box, the 8 TB storage capacity on the Western Digital My Book is perfect for people looking for a lot of stage at a reasonable price. It's USB 3.0 meaning it's easy to take advantage of its storage speed with fast transfer speeds.

While portability is not the Western Digital My Book's strong suit and it needs a separate power source, it does offer 256-AES encryption when you download its easy-to-use security software. It ensures all your important files and documents stay private.

If you're looking for a drive that has lots of space, os you don't have to have multiple as your storage needs grow, look no further.

Pros:

  • Lots of storage
  • 256-AES encryption
  • Time Machine compatible

Best Capacity

Western Digital My Book (8TB)

Lots of storage for those who need it

Western Digital offers 256-AES encryption when you download its security software, meaning you can rest easy knowing your private information and personal data is safe.

Best Thunderbolt 3 Drive: LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt

LaCie hard drives have always been good for people on the go because of the rugged design. The LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt can withstand some dust, dirt, and even a tiny bit of water being splashed on it.

It's 7200 RPM Hard drive keeps things running smoothly. And the included USB-C cable — which supports Thunderbolt 3 — makes it perfect for MacBook and Mac users alike!

Cons:

  • Only 130MB/s

Best Thunderbolt 3 Drive

LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt

Rugged design with Thunderbolt 3

The LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt 3 is a favorite because it can withstand drops, dust, and even the occasional splash of water, making it easy to carry around!

Best for Legacy Hardware : G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 (4TB)

While Apple has been going the way of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 for a while now, some of us still use older hardware and thus don't need hard drives that have USB-C connections. If you're still rocking USB-A or even a Thunderbolt 2 connection from your Mac, the G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 (4TB) is a perfect companion.

Its all-metal design is not only more durable than plastic hard drives, but it also looks stylish! Plus, it's 7200 RPM speed allows the G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 to achieve 195 MB/s read and write speeds. This makes it fast enough to transfer large video files quickly and efficiently.

Cons:

  • Needs to be reformatted for Windows

Best for legacy hardware

G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 (4TB)

Stylish and fast even on older computers

With 7200 RPM, this hard drive works hard and fast to get your files transferred quickly. Plus, it uses USB 3.0, and it even has a Thunderbolt 2 port.

The CalDigit Tuff does the best it can to live up to its name, giving you a hard drive that isn't as delicate as most. Its official IP rating is IP57, meaning it can be submerged in 3-feet of water for 30 mins and come out the other side functional. That's not all; this Thunderbolt 3 compatible drive can also withstand falling from about 4-feet high. We still don't suggest that you purposely abuse the CalDigit Tuff. Still, it's always good to have peace of mind when you're carrying your hard drive around.

Cons:

  • Only come in 2TB

Best rugged drive

CalDigit Tuff

Can withstand drops and water

Official rated IP57, the CalDigit Tuff can survive an accidental dip into the water and has a great price tag.

If you're used to dealing with giant file sizes and need a hard drive that can handle transfer data fast, the Samsung X5 is one of the fastest SSD's you'll find. Its read and write speeds are 2,800MB/s and 2,300MB/s respectively, and the entire body is made of metal, making it much harder than plastic drives. Plus, The internal frame on the inside is shock resistant for drops from 2 meters.

This SSD comes with Thunderbolt 3 technology included. This you can take advantage of the fast speeds on your Mac or MacBook Pro, and it doesn't need any formatting, so it's plug and play!

Pros:

  • 2,800MB/s read speed
  • Shock resistant
  • Thunderbolt 3

Best fast drive

Samsung X5

Incredibly fast SSD

If you need blazing fast speeds for giant files, the Samsung X5 is a monster external SSD that can handle any workload.

Bottom line

The Seagate Backup Plus Slim is the most reliable hard drive you can carry around with you at all times. It is formatted for both Mac and Windows right out of the box, and its easy-to-use software can automatically do backups for you as often or as little as you want.

Seagate also throws in a one-year complimentary subscription to Mylio Create. This program can help you wrangle your photo library if you don't already use some photo managing tool. A two-month membership to Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography Plan means it's perfect for budding photographers as well.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Luke Filipowicz is an iMore staff writer who has been carrying around his Seagate Backup Plus Slim since his college days.

Lory Gil is the Managing Editor of iMore and an avid believer in having as many backups of your important files and documents as possible.

Rene Ritchie is the foremost authority on all things Apple and has insider knowledge about the goings-on at the biggest tech company in the world. When it comes to accessories for Mac, Rene has used them all.

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.

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So, you just bought an external hard drive or a portable SSD and wanted to use it on your Mac. But somehow, macOS doesn’t allow you to write data to the drive.

That’s all because it’s been initialized with Windows NT File System (NTFS), which is primarily for PCs. Apple Mac machines support a different file system.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to format your external drive for a Mac compatible file system i.e. Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Just follow this easy step-by-step guide and you’re all set.

Important note: If you have useful files stored on the external drive, be sure to copy or transfer them to another safe place prior to formatting. The operation will erase all data and your files will be gone for good. You could use a recovery program like Data Rescue to retrieve them, but the odds of recovery vary.

Pro tip: If your external drive has a large volume, like mine – a 2TB Seagate Expansion. I highly recommend you also create multiple partitions. I’ll also show you how to do that below.

Seagate External Hard Drives Instructions

Most External Hard Drives Are Initiated with NTFS

During the last several years, I’ve used several removable drives, including a 500GB WD My Passport, 32GB Lexar flash drive, and a few others.

Three weeks ago, I bought a brand new 2TB Seagate Expansion to backup my MacBook Pro before I updated to the latest macOS, 10.13 High Sierra (also see those High Sierra issues I encountered).

When I connected the Seagate to my Mac, the drive icon showed up like this.

When I opened it, the default content was all there. Since I wanted to use it on Mac, I clicked the blue logo with the text “Start_Here-Mac”.

It brought me to a webpage on Seagate’s site, where it clearly indicated the drive was initially set up to work with a Windows PC. If I wanted to use it with Mac OS or Time Machine backup (which is my intent), I’ll need to format the drive for my Mac.

I then right-clicked the external drive icon on Mac desktop > Get Info. It showed this format:

Format: Windows NT File System (NTFS)

What is NTFS? I’m not going to explain here; you can read more on Wikipedia. The problem is that on macOS, you can’t work with files saved on an NTFS drive unless you use a paid app Paragon NTFS for Mac.

Seagate External Hard Drive For Mac Help Center

How to Format an External Drive to Work with Mac (from NTFS to Mac OS Extended)?

Note: The tutorial and screenshots below are based on macOS Sierra 10.12.5. They might be different if your Mac has a different version.

Step 1: Open Disk Utility.

The quickest way to do this is a simple Spotlight search (click the search icon on the upper right corner), or go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

Step 2: Highlight your external drive and click “Erase”.

Make sure your drive is connected. It should show up on the left panel under “External”. Select that disk and click the “Erase” button, the one highlighted in red in the screenshot below.

Step 3: Select “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” in Format.

A new window will pop up asking which file system you’d like to format the external drive to. By default, it’s the Windows NT File System (NTFS). Select the one shown below.

Pro tip: If you want to use the external drive for both Mac and PC, you can also select “ExFAT”. Learn more about the differences between these file systems from this thread.

By the way, you can also rename your external drive.

Step 4: Wait until the erasing process is complete.

For me, it took less than a minute to format my 2TB Seagate Expansion.

You can also check to see if the format was successful. Right-click on the icon for your external drive on Mac desktop, then select “Get Info”. Under “Format”, you should see text like this:

Congratulations! Now your external drive has been formatted to be fully compatible with Apple MacOS, and you can edit, read, and write files to it as you want.

How to Partition an External Hard Drive on Mac

If you want to create multiple partitions on your external hard drive (in fact, you should for better file organization), here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Highlight your drive and click “Partition” in Disk Utility.

Seagate Backup Plus For Mac

Open the Disk Utility app and highlight your external hard drive. Make sure you select the disk icon right under “External”. If you select the one below it, the Partition option will be greyed out and become unclickable.

Step 2: Add partitions and allocate volume for each one.

After clicking “Partition”, you’ll see this window. Located on the left is a big blue circle with the name of your external drive together with its volume size. What you need to do next is click the add “+” button to increase the number of partitions on your external disk. Then allocate the desired volume to each partition. You can do that by clicking the small white circle and dragging it around.

After that, you can rename each partition and define a file system for it.

Seagate

Step 3: Confirm your operation.

Once you hit “Apply”, a new window pops up asking for your confirmation. Take a few seconds to read the text description to make sure it reflects what you intend to do, then click the “Partition” button to continue.

Step 4: Wait until it says “Operation successful.”

To check whether the operation is really successful, go to your Mac desktop. You should see multiple disk icons show up. I chose to create two partitions on my Seagate Expansion — one for backup, the other for personal use. You can find more info in this post: How to Backup Mac to an External Hard Drive.

Seagate External Hard Drive For Mac Software

That wraps up this tutorial article. I hope you find it helpful. As always, let me know if you have any issues during the formatting or partitioning process.

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