Setting Up A New Hard Drive For My Mac

Setting Up A New Hard Drive For My Mac
Image: Seagate/Anthony Caruana

A couple of weeks ago I switched out my trusty, but ageing, Mac mini for a new 13-inch MacBook Pro. I’m spending more and more time travelling these days and while I can get away with an iPad for many tasks, there are times when I really need a “proper” computer. But one of the hassles is that my budget didn’t extend to a 2TB SSD which added another $1800 to the price tag. So, that meant looking for an external storage solution. Here’s what I bought and how I set that drive up.

I was shopping around for a 4TB external drive but found a Seagate 6TB Expansion Desktop Hard Drive that fit the bill. When I had the Mac mini, I had a pair of 4TB drives connected but part of shifting to the MacBook Pro was a commitment to reduce my desktop clutter so a single, larger drive fit the bill.

My previous set up ran with two external drives as one was set aside specifically for my iTunes library, which runs at a little over 2TB, and the other for Time Machine backups (I also back up to a NAS which syncs to the cloud and I use cloud storage for critical documents so I have multiple copies of key data).

With a 6TB drive, I decided to partition the drive so I could split some of the storage for iTunes and the rest for backing up the MacBook Pro’s 512GB SSD.

#1 Deciding On The Drive Split

Given the size of my iTunes library and computer’s storage I decided on two drive partitions.

A 4TB partition would suffice for my iTunes library, allowing for growth as I prefer to store movies and music I purchase locally.

A 2TB would provide enough space to store many weeks of Time Machine backups.

#2 What type Of Partition?

The Seagate drive I purchased was pre-formatted as a single NTFS partition. That’s great if I was exclusively going to use this with Windows but less useful for a Mac. And while there are tools for accessing and managing NTFS partitions on a Mac I don’t need that kind of overhead.

That meant repartitioning and reformatting the drive. I chose “Mac OS Extended (Journaled) as the format I’d use for the two new partitions. Also, Time Machine requires this format and I prefer to have the same partition type on the one physical drive.

#3 The Partitioning And Formatting

The partitioning and formatting process started by launching Disk Utility from the Applications/Utilities folder. I then erased the existing partition.

Image: Anthony Caruana/Lifehacker

After clicking on the Partition button, I used the “+” button to create two partitions and allocated the sizes as I wanted, giving each an appropriate name ( I tend to use names based on DC Comics characters and locations, hence the use of “Javelin” for one of the partitions.

Image: Anthony Caruana/Lifehacker

From that point, it was just a matter of waiting for the process to complete – which took about 10 minutes – and then copying my iTunes library from its current drive to the new one. Once that was done, I kicked off Time Machine on its partition and all was well.


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