External Backup

Can I use any standard HDD/SSD external backup (Seagate/Western Digital) with my new Linux Ubuntu [I-Mac] machine? As I read the backup drive product info they only seem to be formatted for PC’s and Mac’s. Recommendations appreciated, I am a new Linux user. Thank you

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Hello @verbeckjer!

You can safely drop the manufacturers’ claims in the trash can! You can format any drive to work with Linux. In addition, Linux reads Windows drives (both FAT32 & NTFS) and is also able to write on them. It cannot read the latest Mac filesystem (APFS), and it can only read the older one (I think it’s called HFS).

So, you can indeed format your external drive using the EXT4 file system. You can open up your dashboard of apps (Command Key) and type in “Disks”. This will open up the disk utility, where you can select your drive and format it. However, if you have other files in there as well, then you don’t need to. As long as the drive is either FAT32, NTFS, or exFAT. Linux does not demand exclusive use of any drive for backups.

The next thing you will need to do is install Time Shift via your software app. Otherwise, you can go to terminal and type:

sudo apt install timeshift

Once you install it, run it and set it up to look at your external drive as its backup medium. Also, remember to check your home folder as a backup option, so that it stores your personal files as well. Otherwise, it will only do a system backup.

TimeShift by default saves 5 automatic snapshots, which get deleted to keep that number on 5. You can increase that one - as well as the frequency of the backups. Also, any manual backup you ask it to do, will remain indefinitely.


Very Helpful - thank you Vasileios. Mrs Goodwife, would like to pick up a Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch 2TB for me on sale at Costco. She loves my new Linux hobby :grinning::+1:t2:.


My pleasure, @verbeckjer ! I am glad you’re both enjoying this journey toward your Digital Freedom! :slight_smile:

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I think I managed to do this :+1::crossed_fingers:. Timeshift will tell :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: So I just leave the drive plugged in and it should be fine right? It just shuts down and comes up when I close the laptop…yes


Exactly! You can also change the schedule as you see fit. However, if you want it to backup your personal files, you’ll need to select it - as it only backs up the system ones by default. :slight_smile:


Ok, added the home file to it, thank you!


Awesome! Now you can sleep better! :slight_smile:

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:thinking: not sure about that, it turned on twice in the middle of the night

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Your computer did? (It could be possible if it was on sleep mode and a cat walked on the keyboard :laughing: )

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:grin: yes the computer did, no kitty. I thought maybe Timeshift was trying to catch up for the day. So not sure what that was about. I will have to investigate further, maybe power management :thinking:. Switched to Budgie this morning so finding my way around, that’s another thread but :+1: so far. I should add, it also turned itself off too, soooo dunno


Perhaps it went to sleep mode, which makes the system look like it’s completely off. In that scenario, some hardware or apps can get permission to temporarily turn it back on - and 15 minutes later, it goes back to sleep. Unless you instruct it differently in the power settings.

However, once you initiate a full shutdown, then typically nothing will turn it on - except if the BIOS has such a setting to “Wake Up on LAN (Local Access Network)” active.


hmmm, I remember that option from a long time ago, that could be. Where might that be over here in Linux. I have looked in power settings and not seen that option, but I haven’t been to every corner.

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It all comes from the top right side of your menu bar. There’s a little “power” icon, where you can select the type of power-down. Also, since you’re on Ubuntu, you can open up a terminal and type in:


And it will turn off fully. :slight_smile:

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Thank you @vasileios , will do :slightly_smiling_face:

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My pleasure, @Tracy, as always! :slight_smile:

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Greetings, Vasileios. I trust you’re well.

I’m trying to backup my Mint, system/data to an SD card. Timeshift is complaining about the format:

I looked at the card thru Disks and found this:
Disks, SD card  formatting

I’m seeking your guidance on how to proceed, lest I brick the SD card.

Thanks for your help.
Kind regards,

Hey @nwarren AKA Nelda! :slight_smile:

I apologize for my late response. My entire time was taken by building a rather extensive course, which is done on the video side. Just need to finish up the PDF before uploading it on the LMS.

Do not worry about your SD card being bricked. I would recommend you back up whatever files it has in it (if it does) and then format it to EXT4. Then, Timeshift will no longer complain. :wink:

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Thank you, @vasileios.

No apologizes needed. You’re tutoring hundreds of us while simultaneously creating class material. We’re blessed to have your support.

I need further guidance. I cannot find EXT4 option in my Disks app. This is what I do see:

format disk, 1of3

format disk, 2of3

format disk, 3of3

What am I missing?
Q1: Where do I find the EXT4 formatting option?

Q2: As the SD card is partitioned exFAT (please see 2nd image in my previous post), why is Mint not reading it already?



I found one, but the fields aren’t fully active: The EXT4 formatting option appears via right-click on desktop applet icon. See circled inaccessible fields:

6. right-click applet

So, I still need guidance RE how to format the SD card for EXT4.

Kind regards,

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Hey @nwarren
On the first screenshots you sent, the number 1 will work nicely. The GPT is for drives over 2TB. Generally, once you do that on Disks, it will format it by default in a usable file system.

If that still gives you trouble, please let me know so that we can go via a more manual method.