Mac backup to external storage media

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About this article

This article includes instructions for saving files to external storage media (e.g., external hard disk drives, SD cards) from your Mac. It is intended for students and employees.

Connecting and finding the device

To back up to an external hard disk, flash drive, or SD card, first connect the drive to your computer. Most of these devices use USB connectors. SD cards get inserted into the laptop's SD card slot. After connecting the drive and letting the operating system recognize the device, you will find an icon for it on your Desktop. Some drives will be named by the brand of the drive (e.g., WD for Western Digital or CruserMini for a flash drive brand). Double-click the drive icon to open a window that lists the contents of the drive. It is not uncommon for some vendor files and folders to be pre-loaded (e.g., instructions, optional software).

Setting up a new external storage device

Many devices are ready to go right out of the box. You just need to connect them to your laptop. Some are more complicated and will launch a setup program the first time you connect them. Refer to the instructions that came with the device for more information.

Copying files to external storage

You copy files to external storage in much the same way as you would to any folder. Review the video of one example.

Pro tips

  • If you are ever asked to format an external storage device and you already have files copied to it, don't do it! It's most likely an error of some sort. Formatting a drive wipes it clean.
  • Steer clear of any free offers for cloud storage that may come with your new external device. You probably don't need it.
  • You use any proprietary, automated backup software that may come with your new device at your own risk. WSU will probably not be able to help you if something goes wrong.

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