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Backup Apfs Drive To Mac Os Extended

12/15/2021
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Apple started shifting Macs from its old HFS+ filesystem to its more sophisticated APFS format with macOS 10.13 High Sierra. In that release, all SSD-based Macs were upgraded to APFS. Fusion Drives followed with macOS 10.14 Mojave. But it took a full three releases from the first APFS appearance until Time Machine backups could be written to drives formatted with APFS: macOS 11.0 Big Sur is the first release to allow that.

Between APFS vs macOS Extended, APFS is certainly the better choice with the right conditions. However, macOS Extended still wins out if you’re looking to format an external drive that needs to be backward compatible. To put it simply, if you need to transfer files between new and older Macs, macOS Extended is better. Step 1: Go to Applications Utilities Disk Utility. Step 2: Select the drive that you want to convert/revert from APFS to HFS+. Step 3: Click Erase on the top of the Disk Utility window. Step 4: Complete the required name, select Mac OS Extended (HFS+) as the new format and then click the Erase button. The Apple File System (APFS) is the file system used with Mac devices running macOS 10.13 High Sierra and later, while the older Mac OS Extended file system is available for older versions of macOS. You can still use either file system for your hard drives and attached storage devices, with both having their own pros and cons. Although Apple started using the new APFS file system by default a couple of years ago in Mac OS 10.14 Mojave, the Time Machine backup system has continued to use the old HFS+ file system.

But you format a Time Machine drive to APFS, there are a few things to consider.

There’s no way to convert an HFS+ Time Machine volume to one that uses APFS without erasing it. Apple created an exceedingly wacky way to encompass Time Machine’s snapshot format inside the APFS format, almost as if the company hadn’t developed both APFS and Time Machine. (Insert thinking face emoji here, for sure.)

Your old HFS+ based Time Machine volumes remain valid and readable in Big Sur. You can set up a drive from scratch with HFS+ to create new Time Machine volumes as well. That’s not a problem. However, if you want to shift a drive from HFS+ to APFS, you have to reformat the drive, and that erases all the Time Machine backups. Because of the structural differences, you can’t just copy from HFS+ to APFS, either.

While APFS has advantages for SSD-based storage, there really aren’t any for hard disk drives, the most likely kind of drive used for large-capacity backup drives. I would set up any new Time Machine volume formatted with APFS, but not convert an old one from HFS+.

Big Sur APFS-based Time Machine backups can’t be used in Catalina or earlier releases. This might go without saying, but I know enough people with mixed-system setups who will ask. Not only must you use Big Sur to back up to an APFS-formatted Time Machine volume, you can’t even access the backups from a Mac with Catalina or an earlier macOS version installed.

The reason is slightly involved. APFS divides a disk into one or more containers (similar to partitions). Each container has one or more volumes, and each volume (starting in High Sierra) has a “role,” which defines the kind of volume it is. You can have several volumes in a container that dynamically share the space allotted to the container, which means you don’t have to allocate storage space to a given volume beforehand. (In Catalina, Apple added volume groups, which are used to hold the operating system itself in pieces, separating your data from system files, enhancing system security and integrity.)

In Big Sur, Apple added the Backup role, designed for Time Machine snapshots and incremental backups, and which is effectively unreadable in Catalina and earlier, because those releases simply don’t know how to interpret it. Nor does Apple have any reason to back-port that role type.

You can share the Time Machine container with volumes that aren’t being used for backups. Apple notes in its Big Sur guide on a page describing the kinds of disk formats supported with Time Machine that the backup requires the whole “disk.” This appears to be an error: Apple really means that the disk can only have a single container, which occupies the entire disk. The Time Machine backup, however, takes place to a single volume in that container.

You can’t access the Time Machine volume directly through the Finder and store other kinds of data on it, but Apple states you can add a volume in the same container. This volume will contain regular data, and can be used independently of the volume assigned the Backup role.

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Jonathan.

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Note: This will erase all data on the specified disk

Launch Apple's Disk Utility

Open a Finder window and navigate to Applications > Utilities and double click on Disk Utility.

The remaining steps vary considerably depending on the operating system you are running. Choose About This Mac from the Apple menu to determine your current OS, then make a selection below.

Instructions for Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, and High Sierra

Watch a video of this tutorial on YouTube
Watch a longer, in-depth tutorial about using Disk Utility

Show All Devices

Disk Utility offers a very simplified view of your devices by default. Unfortunately, this hides the devices that you need to select to modify the partitioning of your backup disk. Before doing anything else in Disk Utility, choose Show All Devices from the View menu, or from the View popup button in Disk Utility's toolbar.

Select the destination disk

Click to select the disk that you would like to use as the destination for your CCC task. This disk should not be the same as your startup disk.

The name of a new disk will often include the manufacturer’s name (e.g. WD My Book 111D Media...). A startup disk will often include the manufacturer's serial number in the title (e.g. TOSHIBA MK50...). Please pay particular attention to selecting the disk, not one of the volumes on the disk. You must select the whole disk to correctly initialize the device. If your disk is a Fusion device, you may erase the 'container' within it instead.

Backup Apfs Drive To Mac Os Extended Journaled Format Which Is Required

Unmount any volumes on the specified disk

Disk Utility occasionally has problems with unmounting a volume while attempting to erase it (e.g. because Spotlight prevents the unmount request). Click the Eject button next to any volumes on the disk to preemptively unmount them before erasing the disk.

Erase the specified disk

Volume

Click on the Erase button in Disk Utility's toolbar, then configure the name, format, and partitioning scheme of your disk. You can set the name to whatever you like, but set the Scheme to GUID Partition Map. If you do not see the Scheme option, go back two steps and select the whole disk device, not one of the volumes on the disk.

Choosing a Format for your destination volume

If your destination device is an HDD with a rotational speed of 5400RPM (or slower): (e.g. 'Slim' backup devices, 2.5' disks) APFS is not designed for these devices, macOS boot performance may be poor. You can format these devices as APFS and try to make a bootable backup, but if the performance of the device is too slow to be practical, then we recommend you choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for the format. If you are making a backup of a Big Sur or Catalina startup disk, you should create a from Disk Utility's Edit menu. If you chose another format, select the backup volume, then click the 'Partition' button in Disk Utility's toolbar.

Your new hard drive is now ready to accept backups created by Carbon Copy Cloner!

Backup Apfs Drive To Mac Os Extended Support

Instructions for El Capitan and Sierra

Select the destination disk

Click to select the disk that you would like to use as the destination for your CCC task. This disk should not be the same as your startup disk.

The name of a new disk will often include the manufacturer’s name (e.g. WD My Book 111D Media...). A startup disk will often include the manufacturer's serial number in the title (e.g. TOSHIBA MK50...).

Erase the specified disk

Click on the Erase button in Disk Utility's toolbar, then configure the name, format, and partitioning scheme of your disk. You can set the name to whatever you like, but set the Format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and set the Scheme to GUID Partition Map, then click the Erase button.

Don't Use Time Machine

Click Don’t Use. You may use the same backup disk for both Time Machine and CCC backups, but if you do so, you must use a dedicated partition for the Time Machine backup. Otherwise Time Machine will consume all available space on the backup volume and make it impossible for CCC to use the backup volume.

Your new hard drive is now ready to accept backups created by Carbon Copy Cloner!

Instructions for Yosemite

Select the destination disk

Click to select the disk that you would like to use as the destination for your CCC task. This disk should not be the same as your startup disk.

The name of a new disk will often include the storage capacity and manufacturer’s name (e.g. 500.07 GB WD My Passp...). A startup disk will often include the manufacturer's serial number in the title (e.g. 320.07 GB TOSHIBA MK3255GSXF Media).

Partition the disk

Backup Apfs Drive To Mac Os Extended

Click on the Partition tab.

Choose 1 Partition from the Partition Layout popup menu (or more if desired).

Click on Options.

Choose GUID Partition Table, then click the OK.

Name the Volume

Format the Volume

Select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the Partition Format popup menu.

Click Apply.

Ensure that you have selected the correct disk. This step will delete all data from the selected disk. Click Partition.

Now skip ahead to the remainder of the instructions that are not OS-specific.

Backup Apfs Drive To Mac Os Extended On Windows

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