All right, enough’s enough.  I have, gathered before me, close to SEVEN  TERABYTES of external hard drives and NAS network drives.  Each individual drive is partitioned in various ways for various reasons; needed a FAT volume for to share with Windows machines, or NTFS for very large files for Windows, or formatted for whatever this Linksys NAS wants to use, or trying to keep peoples’ backups on their own partitions, or whatever.  But in the end that really hasn’t worked out well for me, and my needs have changed.  Windows is now a footnote in my home, and the main family machine has a terabyte inside and Time Machine requires more than that to store old versions of things.  And I’m getting rid of a lot of stray video files that I won’t be needing any more.

Right now what I want is a way to aggregate many of these individual drives into one jumbo volume, but not seeing a good consumer option for this (hey Apple, you listening?  I’ve got a Time Capsule with a USB hub, any chance that someday you could pool my storage instead of leaving me with a bunch of different volumes?) I’m just trying to repartition each volume as big as I can get it. To do this, I have to move a lot of data off of the existing partitions, then reformat.  Resizing isn’t usually an option for various reasons.

And here’s the thing that kills me. A 500GB backup of my wife’s data takes an amazingly long time to copy!  When I had everything going through a powered USB hub, it said it was going to take 19 hours just going from one partition to another on the same drive, and a whopping 30 hours going to a separate drive through the hub.  So I got the hub out of the picture and connected the drives in question directly to USB on this early-model Core 2 Duo MacBook.  That cut it down by 35%, back to 19 hours.  Sheesh.

When complaining about the bloat of Adobe’s applications (ha!  I get to say that now) there was always some butthead in the meeting who says “big drives are cheap.”  Well, that may be but it still takes a damn long time to move around and back up that data.  And now I don’t have any machines that support eSATA or ePCIe (Hello, forward-thinking Apple?) I’m stuck with at best FireWire 800, but mostly USB.  And it sucks!  This consolidation process is going to take days!

That’s a lot of mounted partitions!

On the bright side I don’t have to be around for much of this  I can walk away and come back the next day. But the way my wife’s computer has been behaving and since I have now blown away my backup of MY main machine I’m feeling a bit paranoid.  I’d like to get this all done, stuff the servers back in the wiring closet, point Time Machine to those volumes and breathe a little easier.

Fun Time Machine fact:  If you have a folder in the Users directory that is not an actual user account on the system, Time Machine doesn’t back that up.  Fortunately I noticed this after restoring the wife’s system and before blowing away her original partition, so I still had a copy.  But it was a weird feeling for a minute. “I don’t get it.  I restored her system to a new drive and there’s 30GB missing. How am I ever going to figure out what didn’t get restored?”  Then I figured out that it was the whole Hannah Grey folder that I stuck in Users even though there was no corresponding account.  That would have been a MASSIVE bummer — all of Shosh’s business docs, database, images, artwork from her design team, product photos, branding assets… None of that was being backed up and if her drive had truly died it would have been… awkward. Eeep!