Backup MBP to an external HDD connected to Mac Mini (same WiFi)?

Trying to get my parents set up with a backup solution for their computers. Unfortunately they do not have an AirPort Extreme or Time Capsule router that I could use the USB port for an external HDD (or the built in one). My dad has a MBP and my mom uses a Mac Mini. I bought a 4TB external HDD but was wondering if there was any way to use Time Machine both locally for the Mac Mini (where I was planning on plugging in the HDD) as well as over WiFi for the MBP. Otherwise, a new router with USB attached network storage may be the best option. Thanks for your help!

Easiest solution is to have your Dad eject the HD from the Mac Mini and plug it into his MBP once a week for backup. Only problem would be for him to actually do this and then reconnect to your Mom’s Mini afterwards.

Or buy another HD for your Dad to use which would be cheaper than a new router and NAS. Maybe an online backup option for both of them would offer the best “set it and forget it” solution?

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I have an older MBP that I use as a TimeMachine server. It’s pretty easy to set up:

Edit to add: Careful about that site though, not sure how reputable it is :wink:


+1 on this idea. I did this for awhile and it worked as least as well as a Time Capsule (granted that’s not a very a high bar).

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+1 for the mac mini idea by @ACautionaryTale
I have a similar setup with my iMac, and it works very well.

Totally agree. MacOS supports sharing a drive as a TM destination, and that would be the best way to do this.

I always feel it is better to have this kind of solution vs having to plug a drive in to a portable machine for backups, because inevitably you will forget to do that just before you suffer data loss!

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I went this route with my SO’s backups to an TM backup on our Mac Mini — but hit a major issue with the time individual backups were taking.

I think it was a combination of the backups not triggering consistently enough, and her not being at home on the network for long enough to allow repeat backups. As a result, instead of smaller, incremental backups — there was always a big one due, that was never being finished completely. So it ended in a catch-22 of taking too long, and never being finished, which meant the shorter backups which could finish, were never realised.

Still have the system running, but capitulated and added her MBA to my Backblaze plan. And I still plug in a third external as another TM backup periodically.

Will need to re-evaluate soon, as the MBA is now going to my daughter (as her first laptop), with my wife getting a new MBA.

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