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I’m a bit of a backup fanatic when it comes to my data. I believe in having multiple backups and have them in multiple locations. I backup my work computer (MacBook Pro 15″ Retina Display) to a Time Capsule in my studio. I also back it up off site using That’s not enough! I carry a bootable backup on an external drive that I created with SuperDuper! Yet that’s still not enough. While the bootable backup solves the problem of allowing me to bootup my Mac or another Mac in case of a failure right before a presentation. I don’t update it as often as I should. Time Machine is great because it’s automatic and once you set it up your really don’t have to think about it. However, when I’m on the road for weeks at a time Time Machine is not doing a full regular backup since it can’t connect to my Time Capsule back at the studio.


This is when I decided to take advantage of Mountain Lion’s ability to allow you to setup multiple Time Machine backups. After you set up your initial backup, you can plug in another drive and “add” it to your Time Machine backups. Time Machine will ask you if you want to replace the current drive you’re backing up to with the new one or if you want to “add” it. Once you add the second (third, forth, etc.) drive Time Machine will automatically alternate backups between them if they are all connected. When I go on the road now, I just carry the portable USB 3/Thunderbolt Time Machine Backup Drive with me and plug it in each day so that Time Machine can backup to it. When I return to the studio the MacBook Pro automatically backs up to the Time Capsule.

Now I have the safety net of not only having a bootable backup in case of total failure, but also a pretty up to the minute backup in case of typical mishaps such as saving over a file  that I didn’t mean to or accidentally deleting files. Local snapshots are great too, but not as safe since they are available space dependent.

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5 Responses to Time Machine Backup to Multiple Hard Drives in Mountain Lion

  1. Art in LA says:

    Totally agree … multiple backups in multiple locations! Do you go as far as keeping a set (recent clone + recent TMB) in a safe deposit box at a bank? I’d hate to lose all of my pictures …

    • Terry White says:

      I used to do the safe deposit box of offsite backup method, but I realized that I wasn’t rotating them as often as I planed. So I opted to go with as my “automatic” offsite backup.

      • Art in LA says:

        Thanks for the CrashPlan suggestion. One day we’ll be able to boot a cloned drive that’s stored on the web! For now, I try to stay disciplined enough to rotate drives off-site, and I use SugarSync for documents. However, I like your Dropbox idea that you wrote about recently. Appreciate all of the tips!

  2. Richard Minkin says:

    I only need a backup in one place. When my time machine backup is full, do I add a new drive as the new primary, or add it as a secondary. Would I be better off getting a larger drive and copying the old backup file on it and just using this drive for time machine?
    PS i still copy all of my current photos, videos and music files on a separate backup also which I try to update every few months for safety.

    • Terry White says:

      A larger drive would be better, but when you say you only need a backup in one place does that mean your house/business is theft proof, fire proof, etc.?