To prevent the loss of all your data if your Mac’s hard drive should suddenly bite the dust, you can connect an external hard drive to your Mac’s USB or Thunderbolt port with a cable that’s typically included with the hard drive.
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USB and Thunderbolt ports connect peripherals to a computer. USB ports commonly connect a mouse, printer, or digital camera. Thunderbolt connects a display or storage device. The main advantage of using external hard drives is that copying large files is much faster and more convenient than copying the same files to CDs or DVDs.
Additionally, external hard drives are easy to unplug from one Mac and plug into another Mac; plus, only one of the newest Mac models even has an optical disc drive.
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You can also put an external hard drive on your network. For example, Apple’s Time Capsule provides external storage and functions as a Wi-Fi hub so multiple computers can back up to the Time Capsule. (There are 2TB and 3TB (terabyte) versions, so you probably won’t have to worry about storage space.) Any networked drive must use Apple File Protocol (AFP) file sharing.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of using external hard drives is that they can’t protect against a catastrophe near your computer, such as a fire burning down your house or a flood soaking your computer desk and office. If a disaster wipes out the entire area around your computer, your external hard drive may be wiped out in the catastrophe as well.
You can treat an external hard drive as just another place to copy your files, but for greater convenience, you should use a special backup application, such as Time Machine. Backup applications can be set to run according to a schedule (for example, to back up your files every night at 6 p.m.)
If the files haven’t changed since the last time you backed them up, the backup application saves time by skipping over those files rather than copying the same files to the external hard drive again.
To retrieve files, you could just copy the files from your external hard drive back to your original hard drive — but be careful! If you changed a file on your original hard drive, copying the backup copy can wipe out the most recent changes and restore an old file to your hard drive, which probably isn’t what you want.
Map a network drive mac os. Now you will be able to see that the drive has been mounted. You will have to enter the login and password and then press OK. For example, you can enter smb://networkcomputer/networkshare. Now you will be asked to enter your login details.
To keep you from accidentally wiping out new files with older versions of that same file, backup applications always compare the time and date a file was last modified to make sure that you always have copies of the latest file.
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The better way to go, however, is to take advantage of the small but fast internal drive you have now. Use the internal drive for mostly the OS and apps. Get an external FireWire 800 and offload most of your personal data to that drive. I says 'mostly' because you should still keep your user home folder on the internal drive. You can store miscellaneous (small volume) user data on the internal drive, but put your large volume data on the external drive, such as your +iTunes Media+ folder or your iPhoto library. The advantage is that your OS and apps will be using the fastest internal SATA connection and have plenty of free space (very important), which will make your iMac run more efficiently. There will be less long term data and free space fragmentation because most of your user data is no longer on that internal drive, mixed up with the OS and app files. Your user data will still be on fast external connection, and have plenty of space to expand further.
That's basically my setup. 160GB internal drive with mostly OS and apps (less than 50% full). FireWire drive with most of my user data. And a large USB 2.0 drive for backup using Time Machine, backing up both the internal drive and external FireWire drive. It works quite well.