John wants to know if a 512GB Thumb drive is big enough to back up his data. His hard drive is 93% full. Leo says it should be fine to move data over, but an external hard drive is much safer. Thumbdrive's can fail more often than hard drives. You can use a thumb drive, but make sure you have another backup of it. Can I back it up to Carbonite? Leo says that Carbonite doesn't back up external devices. Only your main hard drive. But he definitely agrees that John needs to get his data off that main drive. He needs at least 30% free for it to run properly.
external hard drives
Cavot has been using DropBox for years and wants to know how he can easily transfer 2-3TB of data to a new service, like iDrive. Leo says that iDrive is a backup service, while DropBox is a file sharing and syncing solution. And not a great one at that. The problem is that DropBox also syncs deletions, so if you delete it off your hard drive, it'll delete it off dropbox. You can ask iDrive to send you a hard drive which you can then download the data and then send it directly to iDrive.
Brett has an external hard drive that has his Plex Media Library on it. It has over 500 movies on it. But he's been having issues with it now. His PC can read only random movie files. Leo says the hard drive is starting to fail, and Brett needs to back it up asap and replace it. Leo thinks the hard drive is experiencing a soft failure, meaning that the drive has some corruption of the hard drive catalog, and it could be fixed. Leo recommends SpinRite, which can read bad sectors and move the data to a healthier drive sector.
Tim's BigSur Mac is having issues reading an external hard drive. Leo says that since the drive is formatted to NTFS, Big Sur has trouble reading the drive. So it would be better if you reformatted the drive to APFS or ExFat or another Apple supportable file format. Also, try MacFuse or Paragon. That may help your Mac read the drive.
Bill has thousands of images on CDs. Is that the safest way to keep them? Leo says Bill wants to get them all in the cloud ASAP. Burned CDs can oxidize and stop working over time. Sometimes within a year. So he wants to have other options, including putting them online.
Ken is a photographer and has a 5TB external drive that isn't seen by his computer. Leo suspects that the external drive enclosure is the problem. Before you replace it, get the NewerTek Universal Drive Adapter and see if you can connect it and see it. If you do, then you know it's a bad enclosure. If you can't, then you know it's a failing hard drive.
Gloria wants a recommendation for a reliable 2TB hard drive for her computer and a web camera for zoom. She's taking a class. Leo says that Seagate makes a really good one, but hard drives are pretty ubiquitous now, and the price is dropping. So you can get two of them and swap them out when you backup your data. Swap them out every other week. Also, rely on a cloud-based backup like iDrive (a sponsor of the radio show.) Ideally, you want 3 copies, 2 kinds of backup formats, one off-site or in the cloud.
Carl is a photographer who is worried about getting his data should he have to "bug-out" during a disaster like the fires that have hit California. Leo says that it's a good idea to use a third party backup like iDrive to back up data, and use a NAS like Synology as well. Follow the 3-2-1 backup strategy (three backups, two different formats, one off-site) to protect the files. Especially as a professional. He can also have an external drive to save them on a 1 TB SSD or spinning drive would work.
Dan bought a new 4TB external hard drive but his mac won't read it. It can see it, but Dan needs a workaround to get it working. Leo isn't a fan of giant drives because the larger they get, the less reliable they can be. But in this case, it doesn't sound like a bad drive, but a bad USB card in the enclosure. Leo suspects that the enclosure failed. So the trick will be to get an identical enclosure and card and see if it will read it. Leo also says that 4TB drive may actually be 2 TB drives in a RAID array. So look out for that. Dan says it's one drive, which is good news.
Gustavo has a 20-year-old Powerbook Mac that he hasn't turned on in years. He plugged in an external hard drive, and somehow the Powerbook now views the hard drive as empty. Can he recover it? Leo suspects that the age of the drive caused the drive to fail. Or the cable may have failed. Or even the external box itself. Leo recommends taking it out and connecting it to a more modern computer.