Advice: Good portable drive to backup 2TB M1 Macbook and how to mount it on my desk

I have a UPLIFT standing desk. Also an M1 Macbook Pro with 2TB SSD connected to a Caldigit TB3+ dock. From my research, I should get at least a 4 TB drive ( 2 times 2 TB) for backup, but I think I’ll shoot for a 8 TB drive since my next Macbook will have 4 TB storage for sure. Note that I swap personal and corporate Macbooks daily, and I don’t want the corporate Macbook to ever be connected to my backup drive. So, I think a portable drive that I can easily unplpug would work best versus keeping a disk plugged into my dock.

I’m looking for advice on

  1. Good drive for time machine backups
  2. Storage or mounting for the drive so that it’s out of my way while working.

Additionally, my initial thought is to store ( using velcro?) the drive under the desk with the USB C cable with it, and pull and plug the cable into my Macbook when I want to perform a backup.

Note 1 that I used to only to network backups until recent ( last week) wipe my Macbook and could not perform a selective restore from the network TM backup. Time Machine mounted the backup but said it was empty. Finder said the backup contained 1.7 TB of data …who to believe?

Note 2: I also was using backblaze for backups, but when I needed to restore a file from the /Applications folder…nothing. I did some research and backblaze will not backup /Applications. Another file gone.

If you can advise on 1 and 2 or suggest an alternate solution, I would appreciate it!

This is very much an overkill option, but speed was important for me. I use a Satechi USB4 NVME enclosure and an off the shelf Western Digital drive. I wanted fast transfers so I could knock out a backup and move on.

I am of the opinion that a regular old spinning HD is the best option for Time Machine. I have been using TM for years, at least a decade now, and have only actually needed it a couple of times, so it’s not worth it to spend a lot of money on it, especially when I want a big drive so it can keep a larger history. (I also have BackBlaze though). People say that HD are unreliable, but it usually takes at least 5 years before one fails in my experience. The only issue is noise. They are noisy and they are a bit bigger. So I would say just get a cheap Western Digital drive 3 times as big as what you are backing up.

For mounting on a standing desk, get one of those shelves you can mount to the bottom of your desk. I don’t have one, but I have seen a variety of them. I have an Uplift desk, and I am pretty sure they sell them.

Just curious, why do you care about fast Time Machine backups? I just let it do it’s thing and don’t even think about it. Time Machine isn’t fast even with an SSD, so I really don’t think having a super fast drive for it would even matter, but I could be very wrong on that.


I am using Crucial SSDs for my TM backups, notwithstanding the solid advice from @RunningBoris that spinning drives are fine. I use one MBP and have a TM drive at my work office, and another at home (and a weekly Arq clone; and a daily Arq to Cloud backup of selected folders). So my eggs are in many baskets! My machine’s drive is the paltry 512GB issued by my employer, so I can get away with 1TB drives for TM. I opted for these very reasonably priced Crucial SSDs because I used to wait for quite a while for a backup to complete, and with the SSDs it’s a lot faster (easier to grab machine and go). The Crucial X9 is also incredibly small and light, and nearly half the size from the X8 that I also use.

For storage on the desk, I’d invest in a longer USB-c cable because the cables the drives ship with are very short.


I ended up getting a Seagate 8tb 3.5 expansion usb 3.0 drive for backups for around $160. I can plug it in and kick off a manual backup whenever needed. It spins down when USB is unplugged, and it spins up when I plug the USB cable in. That is a nice touch since it is silent when not in use.

I went with 8 TB since Apple recommends 2 x source data size, and I plan on getting a 4 TB SSD with my next Mac purchase. This drive should last me a very long time!

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