1 external drive to house Mac and PC backups?

Our Mac backs up to a firewire-attached WD Mybook (it uses Mac’s TimeMachine). Separately, there is a Linux-based NAS that houses all of our work files (I’m mostly on a PC). When we travel, we take several steps to ensure we can access/recover our data. This question is about the last link in that chain, the “holy shit, everything has gone wrong and we’re down to* this*?!” plan.

Here’s what I’d like to do. The night before we travel, copy a TimeMachine image from the WD to an external drive. I’d then like to copy the entire NAS device to the same external drive. Then, unplug and pack the external drive, attach a shipping label, and hand it to someone locally with the instructions on how to FedEx it to wherever we are.

Again, there are many steps to go through before it comes to this, but in Worst Case Scenarios I’d like to be within one day of receiving an easy solution.

Because I am largely unfamiliar with Macs and Timemachine, I thought it best to ask here if this is possible, and more importantly, easy.

Can I take a large enough external drive and easily copy a TM backup to it, without messing up other settings (i.e. I’d still want the Mac to backup to it’s own drive ordinarily). Can I put that backup on the same partition that I’d move the NAS files to? I’m not planning on compressing them or anything, just copy/paste from Windows Explorer. I also have a set of Acronis files on the NAS that I’d want to move there as well. Or do I have to add multiple partitions? Any pitfalls or things I’m overlooking?

Time machine depends on the HFS Extended file system to work. I’m not sure a NFS (or FAT, or NTFS) - formatted drive will even work correctly. So, before you get invested in this idea, I’d try it - copy a complete TM backup to your drive and try to restore from it.

What might work is partitioning the drive into an HFS partition and whatever other format partition you need.

what filesystem is on the NAS drive? If the NAS is using SMB to let a Windows system access it, then you’re probably not going to be able to read its filesystem from Windows. chances are it’ll be formatted ext3 or ext4 which Windows cannot read.

Some more information:
It is possible to use TM to back up to a non-HFS volume, but it requires creating a sparse disc image on the drive and mounting that image. While this works OK, I’m not sure it would be possible to restore a unbootable machine from this image, since it needs to be mounted to work.

I have an external hard drive that i use to back up my Windows computer and my wife’s Mac.

I simply split the drive into two partitions, and formatted one as NTFS, and the other as HFS.

Works great.

This works, and I’ve done it, but it is incredibly fragile. It is not easy to setup, and is even more liable to break than a regular time machine datastore. The one I had setup broke due to a Mac OS upgrade. Not even a major upgrade, just 10.6.4 to 10.6.5 or something.

Like everybody else, I recommend partitioning the drive and formatting one partition to HFS+ and the other to NTFS. Then plug the drive into the Mac and perform a time machine backup, then plug it into the Windows computer and copy over whatever files you want to save. You could also do a Windows System backup to the drive, and then create a restore CD, so you can do a bare metal restore if necessary. I know while installing Mac OSX it’s possible to select “recover from time machine” but I’m not sure how to create a recovery disk, though it would be worth having ready.