Time Machine

Time Machine is extremely easy to use, and its flexibility makes it a great solution for keeping your Mac backed up safely. But with external drives being as large as they are, you may wish to use some of the space on your Time Machine drive for basic file storage.

There are many ways to go about this, but one of the best ways is to simply create a separate partition on your external drive. By doing this, you have a dedicated partition for file storage, and a dedicated partition for your Time Machine backups.

Although it’s possible to store files on your Time Machine partition, in my opinion, it’s a better practice to keep them separated. In this fourth entry into our Time Machine tutorial series, I’ll show you how simple it is to create a second partition on your Time Machine external drive.

Partitioning your Time Machine drive

Step 1: Open Finder and verify the location of your Backups.backupdb folder. This is the folder that contains your Time Machine backups.

Time Machine Finder

Step 2: Open Disk Utility and select your external disk.

Step 3: Click the Partition tab.

Partition Tab time machine disk utility

Step 4: Click the ‘+’ sign to add a partition.

Step 5: Use the drag handle in between the partitions to resize them. Ensure that you leave enough room for your Time Machine backups to grow. It’s usually recommended that you have 2-4 times the size of your Mac installation and all of its data.

Step 6: Give the partition a name to make it obvious that it’s for general purpose file storage.

Time Machine Partition created files

Step 7: Click Apply to create the partition.

Time Machine Finder After File Storage

Once the partition is created, you’ll now have two disks show up in Finder—your original disk, which contains the Time Machine backups folder, and your new file storage disk for storing data on your external drive.

Now you can enjoy the use of some of that expansive storage found on your external drive. If you set it up correctly, you can safely store files on the same drive that houses your Time Machine backups.

To learn more about Time Machine, make sure to also check out these other tutorials:

  • Andrew

    I partitioned mine before I started using Time Machine. I have a 1 TB external SSD, half of which backs up using Time Machine, and the other half uses SuperDuper!, so I have the best of both worlds.

  • Picapollo

    Typo: batter= better

  • Anonymous

    You know i had 3tb time machine but i sold it and opted for iCloud. For the convenes of having all my files with me at all times. Not to say my solution is the best. I just found iCloud storage was the better route for my self.

  • AnoNymouz

    I just recently bought the MBPR 15″ and opted for the 256gb only because I have the 3tb Time Machine. Thought about iCloud… I prefer my own cloud.

  • AnoNymouz

    Forgot to mention… How to better access time capsule over Internet connection away from home? Any suggestions Jeff?

  • Janine

    I currently backup my MacBook Pro to an external 4T drive. no problems. What I want to do is also backup another external drive that contains my photos in raw, I was told that if I connect it to my MacBook Pro and start TM backup it will be included. Well I attached it, started TM and it did not backup that other external drive with my pictures. how can I backup this drive to TM?

  • How long is the partitioning process supposed to take? It’s been maybe four or five hours now and Disk Utility still isn’t finished.