Mac Compatible Drives And Storage DevicesA MacOS compatible backup drive is probably the single-most critical device to own after purchashing your MacBook or Macintosh desktop system. Whether it's a cheap USB flash drive or high-capacity and high-speed USB or Thunderbolt storage solution, your Mac deserves a complete data backup to protect your personal life or business.
Multiple Drive Interface Standards Supported On The MacCurrently, USB 3.2 and ThunderBolt 4 are the leading edge and future interfaces for Mac compatible storage drives. While you might enjoy the fastest data transfers possible with ThunderBolt 3, choices are limited and the drives can be a bit pricey. For more affordability and backward compatibility with older Mac computers, an Apple compatible SuperSpeed USB 3.0 or SuperSpeed+ Plus 3.1 HDD or SSD drive purchase is smart and still usable on USB 2.0 and even USB 1.1 Macintosh ports.
Legacy Mac Storage InterfacesAlthough now in the past, eSATA and FireWire drive connectivty standards may still be important to some who want to maintain compatibility with older Macs and storage hardware. Look for Combo-Interface drives that sport USB, FireWire 800/400 and eSATA ports for the utmost in legacy drive connectivity. There's also Thunderbolt docks and hubs which can allow you to to access and use older interfaces.
NAS / Cloud Drives For MacEthernet network and Wi-Fi wireless cloud drive connectivity is growing in popularly: Apple compatible NAS - Network Attached Storage is often desired in wired or wireless home and office environments where shared access to media files or centralized backup is preferred. Apple's own Time Capsule or Mac compatible network drives such as those from Buffalo or Western Digital are excellent choices.
Next Generation Thunderbolt 4 / USB 3.1 / USB-CThinking forward, USB 3.2 Gen 2 and soon, USB4 and ThunderBolt 4 are the future of nearly all Mac peripheral connectivity. The Type-C connector used by both USB-C and ThunderBolt4 are intended to provide a single, unifying connector for both data and power. Thunderbolt 3 & 4 supports BOTH protocols over the same connection and will become the universal, unifying port for data backup drives, audio and video devices, displays, printers, scanners, cameras and webcams, and any other Apple computing peripheral.
Formatting For Cross-Platform or Mac-Only CompatibilityWhether it's a mechanical spinning platter hard drive - or a solid-state flash-memory SSD for Mac backups -- All such computer storage solutions are inherently Mac compatible IF they're formatted in a way that your Macintosh can read and write to. Thanks to Apple embracing most file-format standards, even PC-formatted consumer drives will generally mount on your OSX desktop right out of the box and be instantly usable for backup. However, for OPTIMAL use on your Mac, and depending on whether cross-platform use is needed or important to you - you might be better served reformatting the drive to Apple file-format standards before using it for the first time.
Reformatting To Make A Drive 'Mac Compatible'In some instances you can purchase HDD and SSD external drives already formatted for Mac OSX for full and instant Mac compatibilty. However, most off-the-shelf external backup drives are preformatted for Windows PC's. Do note you'll often pay a $10-$20 or more price premium for the honor of buying a Mac-specific preformatted storage product. Preparing a drive for MAC OSX Extended Format (and with a GUID partition table to insure a Bootable Mac drive) takes only a minute using Apple's Disk Utility found in your Applications > Utilities folder. Some Mac-"Specific" drive products may contain additional vendor backup software or utilites for OSX pre-loaded onto the drive. Frankly though, Apple's bundled Disk Utility and TimeMachine backup software included with MacOS may be all most really need.
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