Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive

Started 2 months ago | Questions
Pannylumixfan Forum Member • Posts: 61
Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive

Hi,

This is probably a very silly question, but could anyone please explain how I can back up the photos on my MacBook Air (2020 version) to an external hard drive? I have searched online for several days and just cannot find an explanation that I can make sense of. This is my first Apple device after using Microsoft computers for 20 years and so I am still getting used to the new operating system.

Than you in anticipation for any replies I might receive.

Best wishes, Brian

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JustUs7 Contributing Member • Posts: 886
Re: Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive

The Mac forum would be the place for this question.

I generally copy and paste in Finder, or use the photo uploader tool to move things to our external NAS. Some people use Time Machine (a Mac app).

We stopped using the Photos app for importing pictures from SD cards. I find Apples method of uploading to be difficult to unwind when trying to access with different software. I use Canons EOS utility to upload and build out folders by date using standard naming conventions.

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mdmarqphoto Contributing Member • Posts: 829
Re: Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive
2

For a simple method, I'd do it the same way I would do it in Windows:  Mount external drive, drag desired photo folders from internal drive to external drive.

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OP Pannylumixfan Forum Member • Posts: 61
Re: Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive

Unfortunately I’ve got several thousand photos to transfer. Would I be able to drag a folder containing all of them? Thanks.

Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 18,164
Re: Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive
3

Pannylumixfan wrote:

Hi,

This is probably a very silly question, but could anyone please explain how I can back up the photos on my MacBook Air (2020 version) to an external hard drive? I have searched online for several days and just cannot find an explanation that I can make sense of. This is my first Apple device after using Microsoft computers for 20 years and so I am still getting used to the new operating system.

Than you in anticipation for any replies I might receive.

Best wishes, Brian

Well, the easiest thing is to back up your whole hard drive using Time Machine, which is Apple's built-in backup utility. Just get an external hard drive that connects to your Thunderbolt port and open Time Machine. It pretty much leads you through the process.

Then, left to its own devices, Time Machine will back up your Mac every hour, adding any new or changed files to the backup disc.

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Leonard Migliore

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mdmarqphoto Contributing Member • Posts: 829
Re: Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive
1

Pannylumixfan wrote:

Unfortunately I’ve got several thousand photos to transfer. Would I be able to drag a folder containing all of them? Thanks.

Of course, as long as you have enough room on your target drive.

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Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 15,700
Thunderbolt 3 hard drive
1

Get a hard drive with either a USB C or a Thunderbolt 3 connector. These are rather rare, but it will avoid you having to buy an adaptor.

Plug it into your computer, and go into the Mac’s Settings; then go the the Time Machine settings and tell it to use the new drive for backups.

The advantage of Time Machine is that it can fully restore your computer in case of system drive failure, and it is software found in every Mac.

This is an extremely basic setup for backup.

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OP Pannylumixfan Forum Member • Posts: 61
Re: Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive

Thanks for all your replies. I shall give your suggestions a try.

CptAmerica
CptAmerica Senior Member • Posts: 1,046
Re: Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive
1

Pannylumixfan wrote:

This is my first Apple device....

Sad day.

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robgendreau Veteran Member • Posts: 7,468
Re: Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive
1

BTW, I wouldn't bother with using Thunderbolt for backup. Time Machine doesn't need fast transfer speed.

A big USB 3 drive with a USB-C connector should work fine. Don't format it APFS. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201250

Let it back up everything. You NEED to have at LEAST one backup, preferably another one off site as well.

BrownieVet Senior Member • Posts: 2,932
Have been Transferring File between MBP & External Drives Regularly
1

RE: Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive

I own a 2019 MacBookPro constructed like a MacBook Air, equipped with two USB Thunderbolt ports, NO SD card reader and NO USB-3.0 socket.
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I also own a 2009 MacBookPro equipped with DVD drive, two USB-2 ports, Firewire but NO USB Thunderbolt port. Connecting the External Drive to the 2009 USB port allows file transfer between the MacBookPro and External Drive.
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Assuming your external hard-drive is USB-2 or USB-3, it cannot be connected directly to your MacBookAir UNLESS you use an Adapter (USB-3 to USB-Thunderbolt). My adapter is shown in the attached photos.
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I purchased from Amazon for $30.00 in Dec 2019 - - - just Google "USB C Hub, 6 in 1 Type C Hub Adapter, MacBook Pro 2020"

Verify the USB-C (Thunderbolt) ports of your MacBookAir

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You can use drag & drop to transfer files selectively or by entire folder or any of the methods you use in Windows. You can also transfer photo from SD cards, Thumb drives or between two external hard drives. I use one of the USB-3 port for hand-held mouse.
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Good luck

henrya41 Regular Member • Posts: 287
Re: Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive
1

Time Machine might be a good solution to back up your other files, programs, and preferences, but I wouldn't recommend it as the primary backup system for your images. Time Machine works as a backup but not well as an archive. For example, if you accidentally delete a file or lose your computer it is easy to recover what was recently on it. Time Machine is not for long term storage and access of files (IE finding an image from 5 years prior).

At the most basic level, you can drag and drop a folder (or multiple folders) onto an external hard drive, just like you would on a PC.

Most external hard drives will work on a Mac, although they may need to be re-formatted using the Disk Utility program.  Note: if you're reformatting a drive you will lose any data on it.   If you'll be using both PC and Mac you can format as exFAT .

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BrownieVet Senior Member • Posts: 2,932
Caveat on Using Time Machine

Re: Backing up photos from MacBook to external hard drive

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I have been using Time Machine since 2009.
Issues I discovered and verified by the Geniuses at Apple Store:
1.  Time Machine Back-up created on  different versions of Apple OS are NOT COMPATIBLE.
Remedy:  Manually back-up files on DVD or External Drives.
. . . Note the source directory drive to enable proper installation of recovered files.
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2.  Files from Time Machine canNOT be accessed (read and recovered) by Windows OS.
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My OBSERVATION / Experience:
Every hard drive I purchased that is marked "For Apple and Windows" worked on Apple and Windows.  Document and photographs I transferred from an Apple computer are accessible, can be read on a Windows computer.  Unless "write protected" the files can be edited on either Operating Systems.  The converse is true for Windows to Apple files.
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I refrain from FORMATTING any memory cards, thumb drives, hard drives . . . UNLESS I want to WIPE CLEAN any trace of files.  Rather than formatting, I just erase the unwanted files.
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As already posted by others EX-FAT make the HD accessible to both Apple and Windows.
IF I MUST format,  I use the FULL FORMAT instead of a QUICK FORMAT.

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