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Need Device to upload files from a Mac-and dnload to a PC

by Ropple / September 8, 2012 4:05 AM PDT

Computer novice posting:

I've been visiting a friend and using their Mac to save many documents, downloads and screen shots in folders on his desktop. I've also taken and uploaded many photos to existing ones in the Mac's IPhoto storage system.

I would now like to upload all my work and our combined photos from this Mac to some portable device in order to store the documents and images for transport and then upload them to my PC.

I was looking at flash drives, but the combined photos alone are about 70 G's. I think I even tried moving IPhoto event files to a flashdrive and I seem to recall they didn't transfer without my first moving them into a folder on the desktop and THEN transferring them to flash.

I checked out the possibility of portable hard drives - Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex ($39.00) and the Seagate Backup Plus ($79.00). Both seem to be able to upload from a Mac. But, how much of a harangue would it then be to have everything read and downloaded by a PC? I'm sure it can be done, but how?

PS. Related back up question: When a back-up drive moves files from the hard drive, will the Back-Up drive then also erase folders that have been deleted from the computer's drive before a subsequent scheduled backup, OR does the backup drive keep Everything that has been uploaded until I manually erase older items from a backup drive. If the backup tries to mirror the existing hard drive each time it backs up, is there any way to override a backup drive making automatic erasures from the hard drive?
Thank you. Ropple

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All Answers

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So why not a trial run?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 8, 2012 4:11 AM PDT

You could take any of your current drives and test this out.

As to your question about existing files, erasure and such, isn't that YOUR CHOICE of settings or actions?

Since I use a simpler copy and paste and never MOVE (bad move, sit, stay) I never find myself without a backup copy.

It appears you think there is some backup/restore application but why would I use such a thing today? Copy/paste is simple, effective and works.

--> Finally, if there is any issue with file systems, I can always boot up my Live CD of Ubuntu to access that.

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So why not a trial run? reply
by zippykp / September 8, 2012 9:42 AM PDT

You could take any of your current drives and test this out.

* My current drive is only this Mac and a 4G flash. I did manage to copy some files to the flash but have about 70G's to go. I haven't bought any other alternatives. What avenues may be open to me to copy and transfer files back home is mere conjecture from very limited experience looking at boxes in Target. Do I buy more/larger flash drives, the cheaper Seagate or the Mac-compatible Backup Plus (that holds much more but are totally unfamiliar products) or something else entirely? I can't test any product for uploading files from this Mac for transfer to my home computer 1,300 miles away. I'd like more than a shot-in-the-dark maneuver at this end.

As to your question about existing files, erasure and such, isn't that YOUR CHOICE of settings or actions?

* I don't have any idea what personal settings or action choices are available with secondary drives I've never used or second guess their built in procedures. The ones marked "portable or backup" are obviously more complicated than a simple plastic thing that does nothing but receive pasted files (or whatever you call them). The term "automatic back-up" indicated hands off on my part.

Since I use a simpler copy and paste and never MOVE (bad move, sit, stay) I never find myself without a backup copy.

*I HAVE to move files from this Mac to something else in order to get them home. Also, they are personal, useless to anyone else and take up room here.

It appears you think there is some backup/restore application but why would I use such a thing today? Copy/paste is simple, effective and works.

*I am more hopeful there is something out there to help me out than actually familiar with backup/restore. I hope you mean that I can just paste files to portable or backup drives without having to disable preset operations.

--> Finally, if there is any issue with file systems, I can always boot up my Live CD of Ubuntu to access that.

*I looked up Ubuntu on Wikipedia. I'll wait until I think I have to apply it before getting too crazy with all the info there.
Thank you for your reply. J Ropple

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About MOVE.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 9, 2012 1:44 AM PDT

You write you must get these files home. If you MOVE the files and the MOVE fails in any way, the files are not going to make it HOME.

This is YOUR CHOICE. But at least a few folk warned you off.

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About Move ans
by zippykp / September 9, 2012 3:45 AM PDT
In reply to: About MOVE.

I do understand what you mean.

I have actually "copied" all my text files to a 4G flash drive, have opened it a few times to check and add to the folders that will be traveling with me. The originals will, as per your caution, remain here on the Mac until they are safely on my own hard drive.

I also meant to "copy" the photos because they are the only item worth sharing on two computers, but I have over 70G's to transfer to myself in some way. Browsing the computer aisle for possible ways, I saw that two 32G flash drives, plus another 10G, cost more than a $39 Seagate Go Flex. That's what prompted the idea of learning portable drive properties. I know you're probably sick of this thread, but I don't know much of extraneous drives, especially if one would have any use after I managed to transfer all the stuff to my home computer, therefore an expanded interest in a "backup" drive I thought might later free up hard drive computer space - e.g. by deleting old home files that could remain on backup. (I'm still not sure if backup has to imitate the hard drive.) I do know you will say having files on only one device is a disaster in the making. The majority of my articles/correspondence are already on CD (and paper), but I see I'd better get on the stick with what isn't somehow.

Essentially, the message I appreciate getting loud and clear is COPY, copy, copy everything important, which I've done for years onto (dinosaur) CD disks for all document transfer between home and work stations. I didn't preplan a long stay or moving this amount of data from here, but must truly rid the borrowed Mac drive of my personal work clogging it up. I will now leave ALL my original files intact with instructions to delete them only when I am SURE they have ultimately transferred at home.

Thank you for deleting "move" from my vocabulary/way of thinking. j ropple

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Good to read.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 9, 2012 4:32 AM PDT
In reply to: About Move ans

We called that type of transfers -> SNEAKER NET <-.

The problem I found with folk new to the Apple was they would copy items to a drive and test that it opened from said drive. Thinking that it was safe on the USB DRIVE they would delete the file on the HDD and then get very upset that the copy on the USB DRIVE no longer worked.

What happened? It seems they had not actually copied the file but created LINKS to the file on the HDD.

Another reason to not delete anything till it makes it home.

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Good to read.
by zippykp / September 9, 2012 9:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Good to read.

Sorry to bother again, but this response now gives me pause as to the permanence of what I've copied over so far.

Is my transfer procedure to the flash drive problematic:

I plug flash into usb space
(already named) flash icon appears on desktop
I open the flash drive by drop-down menu
I highlight and drag my individual files or folders (stored on the desktop) inTO the flash drive folders

(and, yes, I have opened those folders to re edit files contained therein with no problem. I haven't deleted the originals, or will I until the advised circumstance.

The question I now have to ask: (Besides "What might happen to all my work if I didn't accidentally happen upon this dialogue?) Is there any way to make sure that the items copied to the flash (or any portable device) are complete and permanent (in this instance and for the future), versus just masquerading as will-o-the-wisp links without substance? Is this even possible to PRE-determine? My first thought was to "sneak" to the local library for a test upload, BUT they use only PCs. I'm stumped again.

A rover made it to Mars. Why is it so hard to move a few data files to NJ?

Thanks for your time. j ropple

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Re: flash
by Kees_B Forum moderator / September 15, 2012 8:10 PM PDT
In reply to: Good to read.

Usually, copying a file to flash drive is issue-less. A rather good way to check is to compare the filesize of the copied file with the original file.

And the only way to by 100% certain in stead of 99,9% is to view the contents on any other Mac or PC.


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About the photo's in iPhoto
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 8, 2012 4:28 AM PDT

As there is no equivalent application in Windows, you will need to either move the original photo's, if they are external to iPhoto, or drag a copy of the photo's from iPhoto itself.
There is an EXPORT function in iPhoto that will export ALL of the photo's in a number of different formats to a location of your choosing.
Most external hard drives, including the one you mentioned, are usually formatted in such a way that they can be used on a PC or Mac, straight out of the box.

Connect the External to the Mac, use the Export function of iPhoto to copy all the pictures onto the hard drive, directly.
Once done, unmount (eject) the drive, connect it to the PC and drag the pictures off it.
Rinse and repeat for any other stuff you want to copy off the Mac

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About the photos in IPhoto
by zippykp / September 8, 2012 12:13 PM PDT

I am beyond being embarrassed about how little I know about manipulating a computer even though I use it everyday to write and save documents, regularly save photos, surf and sometimes save what I find. Moving personal photos are my main concern since there are so many.

I appreciate being made aware of IPhoto's special functions and your simple step-by-step direction to deal with my plan to leave all the originals intact and transfer copies for myself. J Ropple

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The difference between Move and Copy
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 8, 2012 11:56 PM PDT

Quote from Bob
"Since I use a simpler copy and paste and never MOVE (bad move, sit, stay) I never find myself without a backup copy."

When a computer file is Moved from one drive to another, there is no trace of it left in the original location.
Should something go wrong during the Move, power failure for instance, the Original file is lost! Now you have lost that file completely. It is not in its original location, nor is it where you were trying to move it to.


When a computer file is Copied from one place to another, either by Drag and Drop or Copy and Paste, a COPY of the original is placed in the receiving location and the Original remains where it was. Should something go wrong during the procedure, you may well lose the Copy that is being transferred but you will still have the Original.

Always Copy, never Move!

While on the subject of external drives. Remember that you are going to need one for your Time Machine backup on your Mac.
Go get a 1TB or 2TB external hard drive now, they are reasonably cheap, and you will be killing three birds with one stone!


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The difference between Move and Copy
by zippykp / September 9, 2012 6:10 AM PDT

I appreciate the extra information especially (from you and Mr. Proffitt) that really accentuates the dangers of the "move" process that seemed such a benign action. Hard to believe a 2 1/2 year-old grandson is playing Curious George games on a laptop, and I'm still in the dark on so many levels of computing.

The Mac isn't mine, but I'll pass on the particular external hard drive info. (The idea of TB capacity is something else.)
Thank you for your time. J Ropple

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Move files between a Mac and a PC using an external drive
by coffeejunkie / September 10, 2012 4:04 AM PDT

Both OS X (on the Mac) and Windows can read and write to FAT formatted drives. With all external drives you can buy now, you'll need FAT32 in Windows talk. OS X calls it just FAT. From personal experience with Windows XP and OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), it only works if you format the external drive with OS X, then Windows can read from and write to it. I have a RAID-1 drive attached to my router where I can access over wifi from a Windows laptop and a Macbook Pro. I also copy large files from my Mac to a Windows laptop by going through an external non-networked hard drive.

Concerning our backup question. What you are afraid of is call synchronization. That's not the purpose of a backup program. If your backup is created by a legitimate backup program, every periodic incremental backup you make will back up only newly created or changed files. It is not supposed to delete any old files, just in case you need to go back and recover it. That said, at least with Mac's Time Machine backup program that I'm more familiar with, I can browse the backup history within the program (NOT in backup mode) and selective delete a backup of one or more files, or purge all versions of one or more files. In this case, I have to be fully aware of what I'm doing and its consequences.

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Move files between a Mac and a PC using an external drive
by zippykp / September 10, 2012 11:28 AM PDT

Thank you very much for the information. Specifically, I was thinking of using a Seagate GoFlex (cheap) onto which to merely copy files from a friend's Mac in order to upload them again to my home PC. Before I buy/open the box, I'd like to be clear that if I format this external drive as FAT 32/FAT, the uploads via Mac can be read by a Windows XP upon download?

The GoFlex is external of course, but does it fall into the category of a non-networked hard drive?

As for the synchronization information: I've never fully understood the backup process, have been very wary of using one because of the possibility of backup deletions mirroring those on the HD, have been asking the question for years (off and on), and this is the first time I've gotten a definitive answer. Thank you.

Right now I'm thinking only of transporting files but I know you should have important files copied to various storage systems. So far my secondary is CD disk only. As long as I'm buying this external drive, should I just get the GoFlex OR the more expensive Seagate Backup Plus for alternate file safekeeping.

While trying to figure saving my Mac files to something/anything to access later at home, I even checked out Cloud storage and read this sentence, "Some companies like MyPCBackup offer file versioning which will backup multiple versions of documents you edit so you can re-call previous versions." Last question, wouldn't you just rename each doc.version so that all of them are copied to a backup and remain there?
Thank you again. J Ropple

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Re: Move files between a Mac and a PC ...
by lapomme / September 12, 2012 5:43 AM PDT

I'm no help when it comes to recommending external drives since I prefer tiny flash drives for portability and to save storage space (I've already got too many old Zip drives and disks, etc.) but it strikes me that you could solve your photo transfer problem very easily by e-mailing them to yourself at a Gmail address. Not only would it be easy to download the pictures from your PC but you'd also have quite reliable backup copies stored Iin case of a hard disk failure. I've had my account for years and am nowhere near using up my space there. Of course, you could also upload those pictures to Google's Picasa (and keep them private if you like) which is specifically for photos.

Re: using backup software, the crucial question comes down to user settings, as others have pointed out. When a program is set to "sync" files, erasing a file from the source drive means it will be erased from the destination drive, too, next time it connects. If the program is set to do "incremental backups," it will copy anything new to the destination drive without erasing anything...but you may need to delete things manually to stay within space limitations if your backup drive is small or your "cloud" provider costs too much.

To answer your question about versioning, some people do manually save new versions with new names (I do, and not just .doc files, either) but some kinds of software can do this for you automatically. It's handy for backup software to do this if you don't do incremental backups and don't want to lose earlier versions of your work.

There's no need to be embarrassed about not knowing everything there is to know about computers and such. None of us were born knowing this stuff: we learn it mostly by reading and trying to do things and asking for help when we need it--which is exactly what you're doing. I've been doing it for 20 years and still no day goes by when I don't learn something.

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Email! Really?
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 12, 2012 9:56 AM PDT

The OP has 70GB of photo's!

With an average ISP limit of 20MB for attachments, the OP is going to spend most of the rest of the year just emailing stuff.

Hopefully they will go the External drive route and have it all quickly sorted out.


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Sorry 'bout that!
by lapomme / September 12, 2012 12:47 PM PDT
In reply to: Email! Really?

I dare say I'm spoiled in not having a limit and remiss in not noticing how big that backlog was. Not being a professional photographer, I tend to use lower resolution to keep file-size down and delete less-than-perfect shots so my backlog is less cumbersome.

Yes, of course a large external drive would be faster and more convenient...unless your house burns down, as once happened to me and encouraged me to replace in-house backups with remote ones.

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Good Point
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 12, 2012 10:34 PM PDT
In reply to: Sorry 'bout that!

A good backup regimen always includes a copy of the data being stored off site; Cloud or Bank.

Must be nice to have no limits on the size of attachments though.


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Good job.
by gcmillerj / September 14, 2012 1:14 AM PDT
In reply to: Good Point

I have been involved with personal computers since the early 70's, back when IBM said that PC's were toys and would never replace terminals. I had an Apple then and a newer one now.
I am writing this to say that I am impressed with the dialog between the parties on this post. It was very professional, helpful and kind. Like it was in the early days when everyone "only" had each other to figure things out.
Good job guys!

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(NT) Blush!
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 14, 2012 10:27 AM PDT
In reply to: Good job.
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Good Job
by zippykp / September 15, 2012 10:47 AM PDT
In reply to: Blush!

I have to second and third gcmiller's comment. I was faced with a sudden problem, lots of questions and absolutely no idea as to the direction of a solution.

I bought the GoFlex after googling a lot of Seagate info. I followed their set-up and mrmacfixit's information about IPhoto's Export function, which I had never even noticed, by the way, and now I have an external drive accepting drag and drop documents and the zillions of photos stored on the Mac, albeit slowly. What a production, but at least it works!

Fairly adept at managing my day to day, I found it tough to have to return to "go" in this case Thank you all for your patient and tactful assistance. J Ropple

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(NT) You're welcome and we appreciate the feedback
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 15, 2012 11:55 PM PDT
In reply to: Good Job
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Good Point
by zippykp / September 15, 2012 10:25 AM PDT
In reply to: Good Point

I'm going to give this cloud storage business some serious thought once I succeed with the main issue of discussion. J Ropple

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Re: move files between a Mac and a PC
by zippykp / September 15, 2012 10:22 AM PDT

Thanks so much for the reply and encouragement. I don't generally use many processing machinations in my daily work, and found myself really caught short with procedure re: two different systems.

I am also going to have the words "incremental backups" tattooed somewhere. That is exactly the procedure that will help me the most. I'm fairly used to the routine of what, I now see, is called "versioning" but (and speaking of learning something else) I may look into the software making it automatic later on J. Ropple

J Ropple

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