[SOLVED] Creating a cohesive backup shared between a Windows and Mac computer

HerbertSherbet

Commendable
Nov 6, 2019
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I want to make a single backup of all my family photos on an external hard drive. I then want to clone that backup for redundancy. I also want some way of automating changes (such as writing, deleting, and organizing into folders) onto the redundant drive. These are photos that will be taken from Android and Apple smartphones and be routed through either a Windows 10 or Mac laptop onto this backup. I want to make sure I set it up right the first time so things go smoothly.

My primary goal is to be able to read and write to a hard drive from both Windows 10 and Mac computers. None of these picture or video files will exceed 4GB, so I assume I should format both drives with exFAT?

My secondary goal is to be able to easily copy changes made on one drive onto another. For example, if I add photos to drive A I need to then add those same photos to drive B. I can do this manually by always grouping new sets of photos into their own folder and then copying that folder over but this will make organizing the backup harder in the future. If I delete unwanted or extra photos on drive A I'd also want to clear space on drive B. I only know how to do this manually and I feel that there must be some way to automate this process. I know my family is going to want to sort through the backup at some point and it would help a lot if I could make the redundant backup copy changes made to folders and what files are stored in what folder.

I will be able to connect both external hard drives and a phone at the same time onto either a Windows 10 or Mac. It would be best if the automated solution worked on a Mac laptop. I can't stress that enough, but if you only know a Windows 10 solution I'll listen and try to understand that too.

For reference I was thinking of getting two copies of this drive after reading a Tom's Hardware review. All these links are about the same product:
https://shop.westerndigital.com/products/portable-drives/wd-my-passport-usb-3-0-hdd#WDBPKJ0050BBK-WESN
https://www.bestbuy.com/site/wd-my-passport-5tb-external-usb-3-0-portable-hard-drive-with-hardware-encryption-latest-model-black/6380848.p?skuId=6380848
https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/wd-my-passport-portable-hard-drive-review-slim-spacious-and-secure
https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-external-hard-drive-ssd,5987.html
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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First, kudos for being proactive with the whole backup thing. Far too many people aren't.

I am entirely unsure about a Mac procedure, but there are several options in Windows.

SyncBackFree, FreeFileSync, and SyncToy would do individual folders, to an external or other storage location.

Personally, I use Macrium Reflect for my backup procedure. But that is probably not how you want to go with this.
You're looking at having them actually accessible, not just 'backed up'.
 

Furzumz

Commendable
May 28, 2020
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I apologize if this post is of no help, but I figured I'd throw this suggestion out there: have you considered trying something like Dropbox?

If you don't mind an online backup it sounds like it might work for your needs. It's on android, apple, and windows. Anything you put into the dropbox folder or its sub folders backs it up to their servers and downloads the files to your other devices and computer(s). Any changes you make to the files inside the dropbox folder will also update across all the other devices.

This creates a online backup and a "local" backup on your devices / computers. You can also choose to keep files as online only so they won't download a copy of the files to your other devices if you don't want it to.

But the catch is the free version is very limited space (about 2GB) but you get 2TB for $12 a month according to their website.
 
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HerbertSherbet

Commendable
Nov 6, 2019
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Online backups can be more robust and durable long-term, but I don't think they are worth the cost and it's easy to lose your data if you stop paying for them. I'd rather put that money towards a third drive for use as a second redundant backup than be permanently tied to paying a company every year for storing my photos. I appreciate the suggestion and agree that it resolves organizing the data so much that I might consider uploading the data there first to sift through it, but ultimately no that is not what I want to do.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
157,531
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First, kudos for being proactive with the whole backup thing. Far too many people aren't.

I am entirely unsure about a Mac procedure, but there are several options in Windows.

SyncBackFree, FreeFileSync, and SyncToy would do individual folders, to an external or other storage location.

Personally, I use Macrium Reflect for my backup procedure. But that is probably not how you want to go with this.
You're looking at having them actually accessible, not just 'backed up'.
 

HerbertSherbet

Commendable
Nov 6, 2019
46
5
1,545
3
It looks like FreeFileSync can fit the bill. I don't know much at all about the software yet but I'm going to focus on learning it.

My next headache is writing to the same drive on both a Windows and MacOS computer. It looks like sticking to exFAT is a good idea but is it smart to format a 5TB drive to it? It's not a thumb drive but I'll still be accessing it exclusively via USB.

I'd also love any tips that anyone can give me about making long term backups. I haven't done a real backup like this before. Most of my old important stuff is physical and this backup is ultimately a means to make physical copies of photos, but I want to keep this data safe for 10+ years. I know that life can make that difficult or impossible but I'm serious about trying to do that. As much as I may know the basics I'm still concerned about missing something important. I'm planning on keeping a copy at a separate location and I certainly know the dangers of powerful Admin commands. I'm more into security and none of these photos are going to be something I'd be afraid of it were uploaded to Facebook.
 

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