Does WD My Passport Work with Time Machine?
Is WD My Passport compatible with Time Machine?
Your Mac can pretty much work with any USB attached external hard drive.
And with a little know how and insider knowledge. You can get your WD My Passport drive working well with Time Machine in no time.
Your Mac, Your WD My Passport And Time Machine
Time Machine is supplied free as part of your Mac’s operating system.
It is ‘The’ software on a Mac to use to do your backups. Time Machine will keep a copy of all your documents, photos or music safely backed up.
In fact Time Machine will back up everything. Including your Mac’s operating system and all the software you have on your Mac. It can backup to an external hard drive and that drive can be your WD My Passport drive. Whether it’s the ‘For Mac’ version or not.
And should the worst happen you’d be able to restart and recover your Mac.
Before You Use Your WD My Passport For A Time Machine Backup
It’s worth your while double checking these four things. Check before you use your WD My Passport drive as a Time Machine backup drive.
1. You’ll need a whole WD My Passport drive. Or a partition (section) of a much larger drive large to make your backup to. And enough space for Time Machine to make your follow on backups over time.
It’s safest to calculate that you’ll need twice the space your using.
Let me explain …
If everything on your Mac takes up 500 GB of space. Then aim to get either a 1 TB WD My Passport drive or a 1TB partition on a much larger My Passport drive.
2. Plug in your Mac to external power. Time Machine checks to make sure your Mac is connected to power before it does a back up. The last thing you want is for your Mac to run out of power part way through a backup.
3. Time Machine backs up to and works with a HFS+ (also known as a Mac OS Extended (Journaled)) formatted drive. Be sure your WD My Passport drive is formatted to HFS+ or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system before you start.
I tell you how later on in this post.
4. There are two types of WD My Passport external hard drives you can use on your Mac. Western Digital sells a “for Mac” version – WD My Passport For Mac.
This drive is already formatted and set up ready to plug straight in and use on a Mac. And it will work straight away with Time Machine.
You just need to point Time Machine to it.
Skip the next sections and jump down to how to use WD My Passport for Mac with Time Machine.
Do you have the other type of WD My Passport drive? NTFS formatted? No matter. In a few minutes you’ll have it all set up. Read on.
How To Format WD My Passport For Mac For Time Machine
You’ll only need to format the NTFS version of your WD My Passport external hard drive. Unless of course for some reason you want to reformat the ‘for Mac’ one.
The procedure is the same.
Take Care: Formatting wipes everything from the WD My Passport drive. If there are files on there and you want to save them, copy them off first.
An example of this is:
If you have a brand new WD My Passport drive (non for Mac), it will have software on it provided by Western Digital. That software will only run on a Windows PC.
If you want to use the software at a later point on a Windows PC then copy it off – onto a Windows PC.
1. Turn On Your Mac And log In.
Plug in your WD My Passport into one of your USB ports. You may need an adaptor cable depending on the age of your Mac.
My favorite cable and adaptor are: (Commissions Earned)
Click on the above links to view on Amazon.
If you need to go into more detail on this then I have an article on the site all about it. “Connecting an External Hard Drive to Your Mac“. Go ahead and have a read. – Link to article.
And it is likely you will need your Mac connected to external power.
2. Your Mac May At This Stage Give You A Message.
Your Mac may have noticed that your WD My Passport external hard drive is NTFS formatted. And offer to format it for you. If it does, say yes. (as long as there are no files on there you need. If there are, say no and copy them off first).
3. Go Into Disk Utility.
You can find Disk Utility by doing a spotlight search.
Click on the spotlight search symbol at the top of your screen. Type in “disk utility”.
Double click on Disk Utility to start it up.
4. Select Your WD My Passport External Drive.
At the left of the Disk Utility screen you’ll see all the drives attached to your Mac listed.
Click on your WD My Passport drive under the ‘External’ heading.
Be sure to select it at the right level. The arrow in this picture shows you where.
If your formatting doesn’t seem to work. It’s often because you have not selected the My Passport drive at the top level. It’s easy to click on the wrong thing and then your format doesn’t work.
5. Look At The Top Of The Disk Utility Screen And Click On Erase.
Yes that’s right. The Erase button is how Disk Utility refers to formatting.
You can click it now.
Nothing will happen for now and there are a few things to set next.
6. On The Erase Screen.
You can give your WD My Passport drive a name. And enter the settings to format it ready for Time Machine.
Put in a name for your WD My Passport drive.
Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) where the screen asks for the format.
And select GUID Partition Map for the Scheme.
Click on Erase to go ahead and format your My Passport drive.
In a few minutes it’s done and you can quit Disk Utility. Then you’re ready to connect your My Passport drive to Time Machine.
For more detail on formatting a WD My passport drive do take a look at my post on the site. “Format WD My Passport for Mac, 10 Quick Steps“.
Should you have a large WD My Passport external hard drive and want to divide it up. Divide it up so that you can devote different parts of the drive to separate jobs.
That is called partitioning.
Imagine, you have a 2TB WD My Passport drive. You could have 1TB set up for a Time Machine backup and 1TB for other documents you want to store.
You can learn how to partition your WD My Passport drive in this article on the site. “Partition WD My Passport For Mac, Teach Yourself in 10 Steps“.
For this example if you want 1TB for a Time Machine backup and the second 1TB part of your drive for documents. You then create two 1TB partitions. Each formatted to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.
Setting Up WD My Passport For Time Machine
For either your ‘for Mac’ version of your WD My Passport drive. Or your non for Mac newly formatted WD My Passport drive. Both are set up the same for Time Machine.
Setting up is straight forward.
Is your WD My Passport connected and powered up on your Mac?
If not sign into your Mac and plug in the drive.
Your WD My Passport drive will appear as an icon on your Mac’s desktop.
You’ll be able to see the name you gave the drive. The name is underneath the WD My Passport drive’s icon.
1. Open Up Time Machine.
You can find Time Machine by clicking on the spotlight search at the top of your desktop. Then do a spotlight search to search for Time Machine within System Preferences.
Picture of type in System Preferences
Click on Time Machine in the System Preferences window.
2. Tell Time Machine To Use Your WD My Passport External Hard Drive.
You do this by:
Switching the slider button for Time Machine to ON.
Take a look at the arrows in the picture above. One points to the slider button to show you where you click to turn Time Machine on.
Another arrow points to the check box at the bottom of the Time Machine preferences window. Toggle to show the Time Machine symbol at the top of your desktop window.
It’s handy to check that box so that you can watch the progress of your back up to your My Passport drive.
The third arrow points to the select disk button.
Click on that button.
In this list you’ll see your WD My Passport drive listed as available for you to use with Time Machine.
It will be in the list under the title and name you gave to it.
Select your WD My Passport external hard drive or partition on the drive.
Then click on Use Disk.
And that’s it.
You can now get rid of the Time Machine Preferences window as the setup is all done.
Time Machine is now set up to use your WD My Passport drive to back up to. And when your My Passport drive connects to Time Machine a backup will start.
Because you have switched Time Machine to ON.
How To Use WD My Passport With Time Machine And How To Use WD My Passport For Mac With Time Machine
It doesn’t matter if you have the ‘for Mac’ version of WD My Passport or not. The way you use with your Mac is the same.
Whenever your WD My Passport drive connects to your Mac, Time Machine will kick off a backup. You may have to wait a little while.
As standard, Time Machine will kick off a backup each hour.
And this is usually fine if your WD backup drive is always connected to your Mac. But if you have a MacBook Pro or Air, of course you take it around with you.
Then you may want to tell Time Machine to kick off a backup when you plug your WD My Passport drive in.
Telling Time Machine to Start a Backup Now on your WD My Passport Drive.
1. Plug Your Mac Into Your Power Supply. And Connect Up The WD My Passport Drive.
Look at the top of your desktop window for the Time Machine icon.
You should have switched it on in step 2 above when you set up the drive for Time Machine.
2. Click On The Time Machine Icon.
Anytime you click on the icon, it will tell you the date of the last backup. And the name of the backup drive.
As part of that menu you can select to backup now.
3. Click On Backup Now.
By clicking on Backup Now you will tell Time Machine to go ahead and make a backup.
You can click on the Time Machine icon at the top of the desktop at any time during the backup. You will see there the progress of the backup and how many MB’s or GB’s still left to backup.
If this is your first backup or you have made a lot of changes. Then Time Machine may show the message that it is preparing the backup.
That’s fine. It could take a while to prepare.
When you start your first backup with Time Machine you’ll need to be a little patient.
The first Time Machine backup is a backup of everything. And it could take several hours to do depending on how much you have to backup.
Leave your Mac plugged in. And perhaps kick off the backup overnight so that it’s all done for you in the morning.
4. When Your Backup Is Finished Eject Your WD My Passport Drive.
Be sure to properly eject your WD My Passport drive when you want to unplug the drive.
Mac OS can hold information in its memory. Information that isn’t written down to the drive. And plugging out the drive without ejecting first can corrupt the information on it.
And result in you loosing your backup.
To eject the WD My Passport drive the right way.
Right click on the drive icon and select the eject option.
Wait for the drive icon to disappear and for a steady light on the WD My Passport drive to show that the drive is idle.
Then you can unplug the USB cable and store your drive away.
About Time Machine On The WD My Passport Drive
1. Assuming Your WD My Passport Drive Is Connected All The Time To Your Mac.
Time Machine keeps and does a backup each hour for the last 24 hours.
It will keep a daily backup for the last month.
And keep weekly backups for all the past months.
If you instead backup as and when you wish Time Machine will back up the changes.
2. Time Machine Backups Are Incremental Forever.
This means that the first backup is a full backup of every thing. Then Time Machine works out what has changed and takes a back up of the changes.
3. When Your WD My Passport Drive Is Full, Time Machine Will Delete The Oldest Backup.
This is the main reason you want to make sure you have a WD My Passport drive large enough. Large enough to hold all the backups you want to keep.
4. If You Don’t Have Your WD My Passport Drive Plugged In All The Time.
And you backup as and when you want.
My best advice to you is to keep a note so that you do a back regularly.
Bad luck usually has it that you’re desperate for a backup when it’s been ages since the last backup.
WD My Passport For Mac Not Working With Time Machine
Your Mac is pretty reliable with external hard drives and Time Machine backups. But if you do have a problem, here are a few reasons why.
1. The Non “For Mac” Version Of WD My Passport As Delivered Is NTFS Formatted.
This means that your Mac can read it. See it in a finder window but cannot use it for Time Machine. As Time Machine only uses HFS+ drives.
You will need to format the WD My Passport drive to use it with Time Machine.
Have PC files already on there?
You won’t be able to use the drive for Time Machine till its formatted in a way that is compatible with Time Machine.
2. An Error Occurred While Copying Files.
You may have a corrupt file on your Mac. This thread on the Apple forum discusses it.
The fix uses the Apple Console on your Mac to help you find the corrupt files.
The console feature on your Mac gives you a window where you can see all the error messages from your Mac.
You can use these messages to help you find the corrupt files.
To help I’ll repeat the information in that discussion thread here.
1. Open Your Mac’s Console.
Go to Spotlight Search and type in Console.
2. Check that the name of your Mac is selected under devices on the left hand side of the Console window.
3. In the search bar of the console window type “backupd” without the quotes. If that doesn’t show anything type “backup” without the quotes.
The two yellow arrows in the above image show you where to select your Mac. And where to type in your search.
4. Start your Time Machine backup and let the problem happen.
5. In your Mac’s Console, look for the error. It should looks a bit like “Error: (-8062) SrcErr:NO Copying /Users/NAME/Library…”
This is the corrupt file causing your Time Machine problem.
6. Find the file where your Console points to it. Delete it or move it somewhere else. Look to back it up separately.
It may even be a file left over from a long deleted program.
7. Kick off another Time Machine backup. Fingers crossed you’ll have only one bad file. And Time Machine finishes the backup.
If it doesn’t check for file errors and repeat step 6.
I hope you enjoyed my article “WD My Passport Time Machine Insider Need to Knows”.
I have other articles on the site all about the WD My Passport external Hard Drive go ahead and take a look.
About Simon Irons
As an admin I spend my day helping folks with their Mac issues. From the guy at work, through to unofficial 911 support for family and friends. I swear they have me on speed dial.
For fun I like testing out and playing with new stuff. I think Apple make the best products on the planet.
In my spare time I like to fish and play around with boats.