So when I moved earlier this year, I bought an Airport Extreme base station. And typical of my luck, Apple announced the release of Time Capsule, a wireless backup solution (and the only realistic way to use Leopard’s Time Machine backup feature with a laptop) just a few weeks afterward.
I wasn’t too exercised by it, though, because I figured that I could just hook up a USB hard drive to my Airport Extreme and do the same thing. Imagine my chagrin when I found out that Time Machine wouldn’t recognize drives connected to the Airport Extreme as valid backup locations. Pretty dumb, I thought.
Thankfully, Apple released a firmware update (7.3.1) last week that enables you to use drives connected to the Airport Extreme as Time Machine backup destinations, so after much rejoicing, I went to my local Best Buy and bought myself a 1TB My Book external hard drive; I was going to have the poor man’s version of the Time Capsule, or die trying.
Now picture the tragic scene when I plugged the hard drive in, and neither of my Leopard laptops’ Time Machine installations saw the drive, even though it was mounting properly through the Finder. After floundering around a bit and searching the internet, I found out that Time Machine requires backup drives to be formatted with the HFS+ Journaled file system, and the My Book had shipped formatted in FAT32.
OK, simple enough, I thought. I’d just use Disk Utility to reformat the drive, and I’d be good to go. But, alarmingly, the the reformat kept failing with an error, and the only format I could get the drive successfully reformatted in was FAT. On a whim, I thought I’d try to make two smaller partitions on the drive and see if that worked. It did. But that’s odd, seeing as the HFS+ spec says the maximum volume size is 2 exabytes, and even regular HFS can handle 2 terabytes. What gives?
Regardless, now I have two 500GB partitions on my wireless backup drive, which actually works out for the best, so that I have a cleaner separation of the backups of my two different computers. All’s well that ends well.