TimeMachine backup to external SSDs (Samsung T5 etc.): Is the speed increase significant?


I usually take a 2.5" external HDD from WD with me when traveling for work. The disk stays in my hotel room and every evening a TimeMachine backup is performed.

When I recently held the Samsung T5 external SSD of a friend in my hands I just realized how much lighter they are. It then also struck me that there could be a speed increase, when using an SSD as a TimeMachine backup.
This would of course not be my only backup (. This is just a convenience one, when on the go and potentially rushed.

Did anyone switch from HDD to SSD and could report whether the speed of SSDs is actually increasing the TM backup speed or is there another bottleneck (FileVault or alike)?

Thanks a lot in advance :slight_smile:

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I recommend the SanDisk Extreme Pro drives

I have some of these WD My Passport drives and they are absolutely glacial.

According to someone in this thread

• Backup from HDD to SSD takes about 1/3rd the time it used to.
• Backup from SSD to SSD takes about 1/10th the time it took for HDD to HDD.

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I use Samsung 2TB T5s to clone my 1TB MacBook Pro SSD (about 60% full), and a separate T5 for Time Machine. Carbon Copy Cloner for the clone operation. A weekly clone update takes about 10 minutes. If I do a weekly (instead of daily) Time Machine, it takes about 45-60 minutes. Not sure why there is such a difference in time since, in theory, the incremental data going into the weekly clone should be more than the incremental data going into Time Machine.

Nowadays, instead of weekly jobs, I just plug both T5s into the laptop in the morning and let them do their thing without attention.

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I do CCC backups to 8Tb HDD externals 2-3 times/month and it typically takes around 35 minutes to execute the backup most times. (I ticked the Advanced check-box to find/replace corrupted files once a month, which results in that one backup taking a good six hours to complete overnight.)

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IIRC, Time Machine in Big Sur can finally use APFS, which should mean that speeds will be much faster.

For the past few years the advice has been that an SSD isn’t worth it for Time Machine, because

  1. Time Machine has to be HFS+ and HFS+ isn’t as good on SSDs.

  2. SSD prices are so high that getting a large enough SSD to make Time Machine useful is cost-prohibitive.

  3. Time Machine’s general inefficiency doesn’t take advantage of SSDs as much as you’d think.

Now, I think #2 is a bigger issue than #1 because an SSD is going to be so much faster than anything else.

I think #1 and #3 are there to tell you to not expect Time Machine to be fast just faster…

…but faster is better.

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TJ, where did you see this?

I also heard about that upcoming change. Here is an article.


This will be a really big deal if it uses AFPS snapshots. That could make backups much, much faster and more reliable.

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I thought I read somewhere that this was never the plan, but I could be wrong.

In the article linked by @MaxxHouseMaid there appeared this comment:

“So unless Apple has re-engineered Time Machine, they presumably must have updated APFS to support hard links.”

This is almost right but the issue is that APFS, as of Catalina, doesn’t support directory hard links.

Two sites that should be on any Mac power user’s “Daily Read” list:

  1. Michael Tsai’s Blog is like a better version of DaringFireball’s “Linked List” posts. “Better” in that he posts more frequently and updates articles several times as new information comes out. His link post here pointed to the primary site:

  2. Howard Oakley’s The Eclectic Light Company where he wrote APFS changes in Big Sur: how Time Machine backs up to APFS, and more.

Tip: Use https://eclecticlight.co/category/macs/feed/ to get an RSS feed of just Mac stuff (otherwise you’ll get art history posts as well).

I use an older SSD via Thunderbolt 1 with CCC for a backup. Significantly faster than the spinning drives I also use with CCC. Time Machine has always been slow for me regardless of destination used.

I like having the clone on a SSD since it provides a bootable fast drive in the event of a failure.

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Well count me convinced :smiley:
Thanks a lot everyone!

More from H. O. this morning:

Looks like you were right @ACautionaryTale!