External hard drive for Time Machine

I was wondering if I could get recommendations for an external hard drive for Time Machine. My MacBook Air M1 has 500 GB storage. I was hoping I could get a (sort of sturdy) hard drive just for Time Machine. I am guessing 2 T is a good size. I wanted to get one under $100 if possible.

Apple has some on their site for La Cie but the same one I looked up on Amazon had some lousy reviews.

Also, any info I need to know or consider?

I tend to pick between WD and Seagate, based on cost per GB and their warranty length.


I too recommend SeaGate or (shudder), Western Digital. I say shudder because my personal experience with WD has been abysmal, but I recognize that my cases were likely outliers as many others have had great success with them. I myself have a 4TB SeaGate Backup Plus hub that I’ve been using daily for over 3 years with zero problems.

One recommendation: if all you are using it for is TM backups, there’s no need for an SSD. A regular old HD will be fine. However, if you ever want to use it to actually run files from, consider an SSD.


La Cie is owned by Seagate, but as @ismh mentioned, I think Seagate-branded drives offer better reliability and a more transparent look at their products’ capabilities.

2 T should be a good size for your machine. I have several of these and I think the last ones I bought were something like $70. Note that spinning drives, by their nature, can be damaged by impacts.

WRT Amazon reviews, I’ve observed that buyers having a bad experience with a product are more likely to post a review, so the percentages are skewed.

PS: I concur with everything @cdthomer said.


Thank you!

What is the difference?

Thank you so much, Jim!!!

Thank you, Steven! Nice to make your acquaintance.

Hey Katie, if you’re asking what the difference is between an SSD and an HD, it’s the kind of memory storage.

An HD (hard drive) commonly refers to a disc (or platter) style drive that spins. These have been around forever and for many years were the most common kind of drive for computers. They offer incredible storage for very cheap prices. But since they are based on a design that requires a disc to be spun and a head to read or write to the disc as it spins, they are quite slow. Well, they’re VERY slow by today’s standards (they are also vulnerable to impacts but if it’s going to sit on your desk that might not matter). However, if all you need it for is a backup which will be run a few times a day in the background, and you are not actually using the disc to work from, the speed is really irrelevant.

An SSD stands for solid state memory. Think of a thumb drive which is a kind of SSD. It’s a newer technology and basically works by setting each memory cell to either a 1 or 0 through an electrical charge. There are no moving parts, which means the read/write speed is incredibly fast. An SSD is easily 10x faster than a HD. They are also effectively unaffected my impacts since there are no moving parts. They offer much better performance and should be your one and only option if you will use the drive to work from; in other words if you will use it either as a boot drive (what the computer actually runs on) or if you will regularly access and modify files on it. Unfortunately, they are also a fair amount more expensive than a HD. Usually two or three times the cost. But even at that, you can get a 1TB SSD for around $100-$125.

Hopefully that sheds some light on them, and if you have any more questions just feel free to ask!

EDIT: One more point about HDs and SSDs…since HDs have a spinning disc, they can be noisy. SSDs are completely silent. That may or may not matter to you, but to me, hearing a HD spool up when it’s about to do something is annoying as heck :laughing:

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Western Digital has served me well.
I think either one will be fine, but I would stick with a name brand and avoid Happy Duckling Gaming Drive and the like.

Something to consider: if you’re on the go, you might be better off with an SSD. I had slow HDD drives (WD Passport) at school, and they were slow enough that I wasn’t getting a backup completed from my laptop before I had to go somewhere else. Now that I’m mostly at home, one of the same drives works fine since it is always attached.

Another consideration would be to have two drives and rotate them out every so often.

And finally, some sort of cloud backup like Backblaze.

Admittedly, that’s a lot more than you asked, and one backup is a lot better than none :slightly_smiling_face:


Happy Duckling Gaming? LOL!. Funny. I am not on-the-go.

I do rather like the idea of having two of them. I tend to be a wee bit compulsive so that would be rather calming.

Thank you!

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Thanks so much for your detailed explanation!!! Sounds like a HD would be certainly good enough for the job. And John suggested perhaps rotating two and that makes a lot of sense. I’ll start out with one though.

I presently have my photos backed up to an iDiskk which is SO easy to use although I have not figured out a way to get regular files into it.

You guys are awesome!

You’re very welcome! I know you asked specifically about Time Machine, but if you want extra peace of mind, look into apps like Carbon Copy Cloner as well. I found Time Machine to work great…when it works. But sometimes it’s glitchy. FWIW I stopped using it a couple of years ago and switched completely to Carbon Copy Cloner which is MUCH more powerful than Time Machine. It has a 30 day free trial if you wanted to take a look at it. Let us know if you have any other questions!


Terrific! I appreciate that!

Would you believe there is something called Carbon Cloner Copy?

Sounds like a very good idea. And it is not overpriced. Does it work faster?

I bought a HD last night.

I need to get into a couple of older external hard drives. Maybe you can help me with that. I am not really concerned about the regular files per say. I just want to get “at” my photos and some graphic files. I am sort of putting it off as I am afraid I am going to mess up my computer. Duh.

I wonder if I was backing up and alternating or I ran out of room on the older one. I imagine they are a pretty good brand as I don’t like to buy cheap things (rather I love sales).

As an aside…When I got my first computer, a Performa 6200 I was hesitant to turn it on. LOL!!. Then I didn’t want to stop. The last I checked, several years ago, I had about 20 megabytes hard disk space. It was working great.

Microcenter had a tiny Mac section in the back of the store. I had my favorite nerd who use to help me out and send me off to try zapping the PRAM or something. I fixed it all myself. Nice guy. Smart!!

Faster is a relative term, and is dependent on what kind of backup is running. But the main factor in how fast a backup runs is really the drive itself. But Carbon Copy Cloner allows a lot more options for your backups than TM does. One of the main ones is it allows you to schedule your backups when you want them to run instead of at random intervals.

There’s really no danger of messing up your computer when you hook up and access an external drive when you already know what files it contains. It’s as simple as connecting it, opening it on your computer and copying and pasting the files you want to wherever you want them. If you’ve ever done this with a thumb drive, it’s the same concept.

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Sure! I’ve done it with a thumb drive often enough. Looking forward to it, Chris!