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Ask Max: Data Transfer from MacBook Pro to External Hard Drive

Asked on 11/14/2011:

Please let me know how to transfer data from a MacBook Pro to an external hard drive as per the following scenarios:

1. MacBook Pro's (mid 2009 model) USB ports are not working but it has Bluetooth capability.

2. I have new 500 GB Iomega external hard drive that is not yet formated for either a Mac or PC.

a. Can this external hard drive be partitioned in 2 sections of 250 GB each? If so, how would I partition it?

b. Can one partition of 250 GB be formatted for a PC and the other 250 GB be formatted for a Mac, so that one external hard drive can be used for both PC and Mac files transfers. How would I do this?

Thank you in advance for your answers.




If your new Iomega external drive has both USB and FireWire ports, you can use a FireWire cable to perform the partitioning and backup. If your hard drive only has a USB port and the USB ports are disabled on your Macbook Pro, you may have to find an alternative way to transfer, such as going machine to machine, using FireWire Target Disk Mode.

As for Partitioning the drive, there is an application inside the Utilities folder on your Mac called Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility). Disk Utility has the ability to help you format your hard drive and partitions. For Windows machines, the format is NTFS. For Macs, it's Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Your Mac can view both partitions; however, the Windows machine can only see the NTFS partition.

When you're ready to transfer your data, the most efficient and effective way is via Migration Assitant. Migration Assistant can also be found in your Utilities folder (Applications > Utilities > Migration Assistant). Open Migration Assistant, then choose how you would like to migrate your data. From Time Machine back up is probably the easiest way (because you are backing up your data via Time Machine regularly, right?!?!). It also works from Mac to Mac if you have the right cable to connect the two together. 

Although you have the option of transferring wirelessly over a WiFi network, I don't recommend it, as it will take hours upon hours, if not days.

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