MacBook Pro M1 Pro: questions

Hi all,

My employer will send me a new 16" MacBook Pro M1 Pro this week. What a machine ! I actually work on 17" Dell inspiron circa 2012. It is heavier than the Mac by 3.4 pounds.

I have a few questions for you.

  1. Using an external drive for Time Machine

I have seen tiny external SSD drives from Kingston. I think these are the " Kingston XS2000 500G High Performance Pocket-Sized USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 External SSD". They connect to a USB-C port, so I guess they connect to one of the three Thuderbolt ports, unless I am wrong. Do you know any other makes of small SSD like these from Kingston ?

  1. External monitor

The MackBook provides a HDMI port, but unfortunately my Full HD monitor has VGA and DVI ports only. I am thinking going with an HDMI to VGA adapter, but since there are three sizes for HDMI ports, Standard, Mini and Micro, does anyone know which one is provided with the MacBook Pro 2021 ?

Should I consider an adapter connected to a Thunderbolt port instead ?

Thanks for your inputs

There are plenty of SSD for backups.
I would suggest to take one with double the internal SSD capacity, so you can store a history.
Also I suggest to get a second SSD and use an app like Carbon Copy Cloner to have a clone available as a second backup.

VGA can only do small resolutions, I think till 1400 pixels. You certainly may want to take the chance to get a nice 4K or 5K display and run with Retina resolution.

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It's the standard HDMI port.

The USB-C port could be the worst piece of industrial design of all time. The plugs are short, with round corners. It is incredibly easy to dislodge them. Even a tiny movement will cause the plug to shift. If it's an HD at the other end, you've just disconnected it - let's hope you weren't doing anything important!

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Alternatively, a small NAS serves well as a backup medium.
In addition, a NAS offers the option of automated offsite backups.

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Well a 4K means you have to go with a bigger monitor and I don't have the required space. Right now I have 3 21.5 inches monitors side by side.


Regarding the backup, I prefer to have an external drive that can follow me. These Kingston drives are really small, and fast - not as fast as the SSD in the M1, but much faster than a hard disk. and no mechanical parts that may fail - and that will fail.

It may be time to move to a 2x2 arrangement :grinning:

Any long term users of Carbon Copy Cloner should read this: Beyond Bootable Backups: Adapting recovery strategies for an evolving platform | Carbon Copy Cloner | Bombich Software

I hope you enjoy the new MacBook Pro @planteg


Use iCloud backup... Time Machine is just more work for you and iCloud has been rock-solid for 5+ years at this point. It's $10 a month to back up 2TB or something.

In terms of monitor this one has 5120*1440 which is 7,372,800 pixels. If you have 3 21' inch monitors you've only got about 6m pixels right now at 1920x1800. and side-by side they're probably 60 inches or more when you account for all plastic around each one, which the integrated one above is only 50 inches wide and they're both going to be around 20inches tall. It does cost a grand but you literally get 15% more pixels and more free space on your desk...

As a point of reference, I have an external keyboard, mouse and monitor, and I mostly use my laptop in "clamshell mode" as a desktop... With this adaptor I just plug in one plug and my machine charges and has KVM

Support more monitors with this dongle.

which would let you keep one of your 21inch monitors... but seriously time for a bigger monitor with more pixels!


these monitors are not connected to a single computer: two of them are connected to a Windows (tower) computer, and the other one is connected to my Dell portable as the second monitor.

About using iCloud backup: suppose you need to bring back the Mac to a previous state, for example the OS was corrupted, the external drive is all you need, no internet required.

I have on my Mac mini an app, see TimeMachineEditor (, that control Time Machine. Instead of having systematically one backup every hour, I can set how many backups I want to have each day, whether every x hours of at specific times. Very useful, but looks like on Catalina and Big Sure Apple is giving the creator a hard time, extract from the page:

In macOS Catalina and Big Sur, a security dialog might prevent you from installing the application claiming that Apple cannot check it for malicious software. Apple (the trillion dollar company) is forcing developers to pay $99/year in order to get rid of this dialog and deliver free software to our users, this I do not agree with. All developers contribute to the platform and buy a fair amount of Apple devices which should be plenty enough money back into Apple's pockets to provide free signing certificates and notarization.

I thought it was possible to go over that, hum . . .

Cool. I personally go for simpler when better. One machine. One big monitor. A few virtual Machines and/or headless remote desktops for testing and bob's your uncle. In terms of the OS being corrupted, it's the same as if your machine breaks or you buy a new one, install new OS and restore from backup. Sure there's a one in 100,000 chance that "something else" will go wrong, but don't spend dozens of hours setting up and maintaining something and create a clunkier work environment for yourself every day so you can save 20 hours if that one in 100,000 thing happens. Your data will be backed up. Your desktop will be clear, you'll have more pixels and a faster way to get "stuff" from one computer to another, and you'll save literally dozens of hours every year not having to maintain multiple computers.

Back in the day I had a complex raid backup. Spent a lot of money and a lot of time. What ended up happening is because I had two hard drives (mirrored) one of them died (twice as likely with a Raid don't-cha know?) and then twice as complex to fix. Ended up throwing it out and just going with a cheep Mac Mini and multiple backups (was time machine back then).

Cheeper to rebuild the entire server (in dollars and hours) than to fix the damn fancy, super secure RAID..

IDK... my two cents.

@planteg, iCloud is not suitable for recovering your machine. It's suitable for sharing your photos/messages/notes/email across several devices.

I don't share @JasonMark's concern about TimeMachine backups. I have an external drive and a NAS which are TimeMachine backup targets. At one point I had three, and TimeMachine rotates between them. Rebuilding a drive with a TimeMachine backup is incredibly easy and reliable.

TimeMachine is great for recovering files that went wrong or changed. This includes applications. A trick that I have, after applying a minor upgrade to FileMaker, is to use TimeMachine to recover the previous version. TimeMachine recognises that the app could be overwritten and it asks what to do. I tell it to keep them both. That gives you the ability to run every dot.point version of FileMaker.

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I had my computer stolen a few years ago and bought a new one and less than 24h later my machine was up and running with all my files restored. iCloud also means I also have access to all my files on my Phone or remotely if I'm on someone else's machine for the few times I have to work remotely or access something unexpectedly without my computer.

But you're right, it's definitely not good for recovering specific states though if that's something you do Time Machine is definitely the way to go. Most of my Dev work is on servers which have regular backups, or in GITHub, so it's not worth the 10m a week to swap out drives.

Just be aware that iCloud is strictly private, no business use intended. If you store business data on the iCloud that include e.g. GDPR related stuff you not only go against for example european jurisdiction but also against Apples eula for iCloud.


Since bootable backups with CCC or SuperDuper are either impossible or a lot of fuss to get working right, I switched to Time Machine for local backup. As long as you have a fast SSD, recovery is quick enough that it's not a major inconvenience vs booting from an external drive. I use iCloud for many things, but I wouldn't count backup as one of them. iCloud for Mac is for sync of certain folders, which is not the same as backup. For that, I'd go with BackBlaze or something similar.

For the monitor, the MBP uses a standard size HDMI port. You'd probably get better resolution going to DVI than VGA, but I'd echo the others here: Get a 4K or higher monitor. I have a relatively cheap Phillips 4K that provides power and has a hub for USB and Ethernet over the single USB-C cable. Love it! I'm sure it's not the best picture, but I'm not doing Photoshop or Final Cut color grading… mostly FileMaker.

My boss also got me a new laptop… the 14" M1 Pro 10/16 core. Love it. Even stepping through the debugger is noticeably "snappier" than it used to be on my 15" Intel Mac.


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@harvest, your iCloud ‘strictly private, no business use intended’ has intrigued me for a little while. I don’t want to get into GDPR, as this is still an emerging set of regulations and you can store business related data without any personal data being involved.

I’ve had a look at the iCloud legal agreement at Legal - iCloud - Apple and the only reference I can find to business is:

If you are a covered entity, business associate or representative of a covered entity or business associate (as those terms are defined at 45 C.F.R § 160.103), You agree that you will not use any component, function or other facility of iCloud to create, receive, maintain or transmit any “protected health information” (as such term is defined at 45 C.F.R § 160.103) or use iCloud in any manner that would make Apple (or any Apple Subsidiary) your or any third party’s business associate.

Obviously storing a bit of business data would not make Apple a business associate and there are plenty of references on the web about using iCloud for business purposes, but I cannot find anything to substantiate your additional comment ‘against Apple’s EULA for iCloud’.

Perhaps you could clarify?

Many thanks

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One of the main gotchas I've discovered since I got my first Apple Silicon machine about a week ago is that in order to run a virtualised Windows environment (e.g through Parallels or something similar) - you need to be running the Windows Insider Program versions of Windows - I've got this working with Windows 11, and it seems to be OK, but the main reason I run a Windows VM on my Mac is to verify functionality parity across solutions that are run in mixed, or all windows environments, and as none of my customers run Windows Insiders versions of Windows, it's not a perfect way to evaluate things.


Hi Andy,

I work for customers in Germany where every data processing has to be approved. In this context usage of any cloud service is evaluated and there has to be a "data processing agreement" with the provider if personal data are stored in an external domain.

Apple excludes this usage and thus for these customers there is no legal way to use iCloud storing personal data. Of course this does not include employees using iCloud on there private devices but it becomes at least a grey zone if these devices are owned by the corporation and only the accounts are personal.

For me what you quoted from the Apple EULA shows Apple doesn't want to take the risk and thus plainly excludes being used as a business associate. Now does paying for a service qualify as a business associate? I would say yes because you have to agree to their legal conditions. I do not use Apple cloud services for my business needs. That's what I concluded from the above written.

But these are in the end just my 2 cents

Hi Holger

I believe the definition of a business associate is related to storing or processing healthcare related information, hence the direct reference to this by Apple.

The use of any cloud service should be assessed in relation to the processing of personal data. GDPR took a year’s work out of me due to our SaaS and hosting responsibilities.

Putting personal data aside, my reason for replying was to qualify that Apple’s iCloud isn’t strictly private and business use is not excluded. However, the use of this should be dependent on the type of data being processed as you have stated.

Kindest regards