Way back in 2009 I was quickly running out of space on my 80Gb MacBook hard drive and investigated upgrading to something bigger. I ended up going with a 500Gb internal drive with a 1Tb external for back up using Time Machine. All was going well until this summer when a friend convinced me to start taking pictures in RAW format instead of JPEG. Once I made the switch the drive I thought would take years to fill had less than 50Gb of free space.
I went back to the drawing board to figure out my next steps. One important factor last time was being able to keep all my movies, photos and music on the MacBook so I wouldn't have to find an external drive and hook it up every time I wanted to make a new movie. I went to NewEgg.com, the same site I bought the 500Gb from and order a 1Tb internal drive. It arrived a few days later and I started the arduous task of backing it up so I could migrate to the new drive. I used a 20Gb bootable drive to clone the internal drive to an external 500Gb drive I had laying around and started to take the old drive out. Unfortunately I forgot to read the details on NewEgg.com and found the drive was to tall. So I sent the drive back and returned to the drawing board. After further review of the internal drives I found they all wouldn't fit in the MacBook and upgrading to 750Gb wouldn't tide me over for very long.
I decided my requirement for having everything on one drive was not as important now as it had been in the past (two kids don't really provide time for much beyond storing and rating photos). I figured I had enough drives on hand to give me some time to really think about it and also think long and hard about how a Mac Mini might fit into the picture. I did add one new piece of hardware to the picture though, the 20Gb drive I had been using as a bootable backup was really old and big, so I decided to drop $40 and replace it with a 16Gb USB flash drive. It takes up much less space and doesn't require a power cord or firewire cable. It took most of Sunday to get everything squared away, but in the end the plan came together.
Here is the setup:
Finally, I did have a problem with Time Machine and I wanted to document my fix here. I was playing around with attaching my Time Machine drive to the AirPort Extreme, but iMovie was recognizing the movies on the movie share when configured this way, so I had to switch back. While I was in the middle of testing iMovie I also attempted a Time Machine backup (big mistake). It didn't recognize all of the old backup files (I could see the backups in the backups directory of the Time Machine Volume) and wanted to do a clean backup. I cancelled the back up and switched the Time Machine drive back to directly connecting to the MacBook. I attempted to do a backup and again it wanted to do a full backup and didn't have enough space. After browsing the forums for an hour or so I finally found the fix. All I had to do was delete the "sparsebundle" file in the root of the Time Machine volume. Once this was deleted I tried another backup and it did an incremental backup. I even verified it by going "in" the Time Machine and looked at what some of the directories looked like a year ago.