Data is like Koi or goldfish, it grows to fill its environment

Posted: November 29, 2010 in computers, hardware, Mac OSX, software, technology
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You can never have TOO much money, TOO much time, or TOO much space:   Especially when it comes to data.

A while back I moved my Time Machine data from a smaller partitioned drive to a larger one thinking “its twice the size of the hard-drive being backed up.  should be fine.”   It was for a while, but replacing my MacBook with a MacBookPro which had a larger hard-drive threw a spanner in the works as the saying goes (thats a wrench for those of you without british parents).  For those who aren’t all that familiar with Time Machine, it is a built in backup program in Mac OS X which once set up allows you to go back in time so to speak to previous saved dates and retrieve files or programs you may have edited or removed for whatever reason.  That’s the simple definition anyway.  Its actually a very cool feature of OS X that I have had to use once or twice to save my bacon so to speak.

As time goes by, our data seems to expand to fill its surroundings much the way Koi and goldfish do, and this was exactly what happened to me.  Having the space on the internal drive meant storing more stuff, which then meant backing up more stuff.  As such, my Time Machine backup became full.  So rather than buying a new external to use I wanted to just expand the partition of the one I was already using.  Sadly, no go.  Fortunately I did have another external harddrive available that was big enough to hold all the existing backups, so a simple but very lengthy “restore” from the current backup drive to the temporary one was all that was needed.

select source and destination carefully

This took about 4 hours.  After that I was able to reformat the existing backup drive to one large partition (about 450 gig) with one small partition (about 50 gig) instead of two equal partitions as I previously had, just in case I wanted to store anything else on the drive along with the Time Machine backup.

After the reformatting and repartitioning, it was a simple case of doing the same thing again only in reverse to copy the data off the temp drive back onto the original external backup.  Make sure you double check which drive is which and know which one is being over-written.

My only caution here would be to ensure you are comfortable with the fact you may lose everything when doing this.

You shouldn’t, but as with anything computer based there is always the chance that something goes horribly wrong during the process and you end up with a blank drive.  (for example, the power went out for me in the midst of the formating of the backup which blanked the drive completely and the process had to be restarted)   I was comfortable knowing that if something went wrong I could live with not having the ability to roll back time with TimeMachine and retrieve files from backup.

The process again took about 4 hours to restore and in the end I now have a fully functioning backup of my MacBookPro with the ability to use old Time Machine backups if needed, and it is all stored on a much larger drive with more room to grow.

I hesitate to say it’ll be big enough forever, but its definitely big enough for now.  I’m sure as the years go by, that little goldfish of data with grow to fill this new tank as well and I’ll be again moving it to a larger one.  But for now, there is room for it and maybe a sunken treasure chest or deep sea diver as well.


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