What is your personal storage backup plan

Back up a Mac using Time Machine

Here's how to back up the files on your Mac.

Use Time Machine, your Mac's built-in backup feature, to automatically back up your personal data, including apps, music, photos, email, and documents. With a backup, you can restore files that were deleted or lost because the hard drive (or SSD) on your Mac had to be erased or replaced. Here's how to restore your Mac from a backup.

Create a Time Machine backup

All you need to create backups with Time Machine is an external storage device. After you've connected this storage device and selected it as the backup volume, Time Machine automatically creates hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months. The oldest backups will be deleted when your backup volume reaches its capacity limit.

Connect an external storage device

Connect one of the following external storage devices (sold separately). Find out which backup volumes you can use with Time Machine.

  • External hard drive connected to your Mac (such as a USB or Thunderbolt drive)
  • Network-attached storage (NAS) device that supports Time Machine over SMB
  • Shared Mac as a destination for Time Machine backups
  • AirPort Time Capsule or external drive connected to an AirPort Time Capsule or AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac)

Select the storage device as the backup volume

  1. Open the Time Machine menu in the menu bar and then the Time Machine settings. Alternatively, choose the Apple menu ()> System Preferences, then click Time Machine.
  2. Click on "Select Backup Volume".
  3. Select the backup volume from the list of available disks. To make your backup only accessible to users who have the backup password, you can select "Encrypt backups". Then click on "Use Volume":

If the selected volume is not properly formatted for Time Machine, you will be prompted to erase it first. Click "Delete" to continue. This will erase all data on the backup volume.

Have automatic backups created

After you've selected a backup volume, Time Machine will immediately begin creating regular backups. This happens automatically and without any further intervention by you. The first backup can take a long time, but you can still use your Mac while a backup is in progress. Time Machine only backs up files that have changed since the last backup, so future backups will be faster.

If you want to start a backup manually, choose from the Time Machine menu Select the "Create backup" option in the menu bar. In this menu you can also check the status of a backup or skip a running backup.

additional Information

  • Learn about other methods of backing up and restoring files.
  • If you are backing up to multiple volumes, you can hold the Option key and then select "Browse Other Backup Volumes" from the Time Machine menu.
  • To exclude items from the backup, open Time Machine preferences, click Options, then click Add (+) to add an excluded item. If you no longer want to exclude an item, such as an external hard drive, select it, then click Remove (-).
  • If you are backing up a network volume using Time Machine, you can review these backups to make sure they are in good condition. To do this, hold down the Option key, then choose Review Backups from the Time Machine menu.

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