How to Back up Mac: the Right Way to Prevent Data Loss

Sooner or later (better sooner), the question 'How do I backup my Apple computer?' will make it to the top of your agenda. In this article, we will provide answers to this query, as well as other related issues. For instance, why may it be useful to back up the entire data and personal files on a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac (Pro), and Mac mini? What is the best way to store personal information safely?

Basically, a Mac owner can choose between three options to implement:

Back up the data to an external storage capacity with the help of Time Machine utility

Clone files to an external hard drive

Back up data to cloud-based storage platform (e.g., iCloud)

Time Machine Backup: Tried and True Way to Safeguard Your Mac’s Data

Using the in-built Time Machine utility, a Mac owner can create a backup right to an external hard drive. Then, you will be able to revive those files at any point in time in the future.

Time Machine is the built-in tool for any Mac. The initial stage is set up the utility.

Back up Mac

Start Using Time Machine on Mac

To apply the Time Machine tool, it is necessary to have one of the external storage solutions that are offered separately (external hard drive, Time Capsule/macOS Server on your network, etc.)

Once you try to connect any of these components directly to the target computer, the system may wonder if you wish to apply the drive to back up using Time Machine. If yes, just pick “Use as Backup Disk.” You may protect the process with a password.

For instance, the Machine does not require selecting a backup disk. Then:

Launch Time Machine preferences from the utility’s menu.

You can also select Apple menu. There, you will see System Preferences. Find Time Machine

Decide to Select Backup Disk/Add or Remove Backup Disk.

Pick a disk from the given list. After that, press Use Disk

If you want extra safety guarantee, take these steps once again to have one more backup disk. It is possible to use two different backup disks at various locations like home and workplace.

Backup Process Itself

Once you are done with the previous settings, Time Machine will do backups every hour automatically. You may choose to scan the system once per week or month. The outdated backups are removed in case the backup disk gets filled with data.

  • If you wish to backup at the moment, do not wait. Just click on Back Up Now from the app’s menu.
  • Launch the utility’s preferences to quit the automatic backups. After that, a user may remove the ticks from the Back Up Automatically option (it is available in macOS Sierra and higher). A user can also switch off Time Machine. It is possible to back up manually with the help of Back Up Now.
  • In order to quit the progress, select Skip This Backup.
  • If you want to explore the current backup status, apply the apps’ menu. As you can see, the icon states when the utility is backing up, waiting, or unable to finish the process.
  • Launch the preferences in case you wish to remove files from the backup. Choose Options, and push a plus button. Pick the file you want to get rid of.
Backup Process

Be aware that the initial backup process may last for a while. It all depends on the number of files a user wants to transfer. Anyway, it is possible to go on working with the Apple computer. Part of Macs does backups while being asleep. Mid that the utility backs up the items that modified since the last backup. It means that all next backups will be much quicker.

Recover the Data You Need

Now it is time to restore the items you need from the Time Machine backup.

  1. Launch a window for the chosen file. For instance:
  • To get back an item removed from the Documents by accident, launch the corresponding folder.
  • To recover an e-mail message, launch the inbox in a Mail app.
  • Imagine you are using a tool that automatically stores various versions of docs during the process of work. Then, launch that document. Apply Time Machine to recover the previous versions/editions.
  1. Select Enter Time Machine from the utility’s menu. You can find the app in the Dock.
  2. Define the files to restore:
  • Apply the timeline to explore the files in the Time Machine backup concerning the date and time. It may contain the local snapshots.
  • Apply the onscreen up+down arrows to move to the most recent time the contents of the window were modified. A user can also apply the search field to detect a file of his interest. Next, focus on the time of modifications made to that file.
  • Choose a file and push Space Bar to explore it and check whether you really need this one.
  • Choose to restore to recover the chosen file. Another way is to control-click the file for other options.

Are you interested in restoring everything from the Time Machine utility? Pick the “Restore from Time Machine Backup” option in macOS Recovery. The restored disk is wiped before obtaining the macOS as well as other contents from the Time Machine backup.

If you wish to copy only your files/settings/user accounts, Migration Assistant will help you out.

Clone Gears: Back up Mac to External Hard Drive

Back up External HD

Before discussing how to back up all information you have on Mac’s disk, it is necessary to make sure the chosen hard drive is correctly formatted for the particular operating system like macOS Sierra or High Sierra. Only then you can clone your files there.

As the article has already covered the method with Time Machine, it is time to focus on backuping Mac to external hard drive by selectively saving data on a hard drive manually.

It works when a user wishes to back up the Apple computer with particular files.

  1. Launch the Finder tool. It is available at the Dock. An external hard drive should be there in your Finder’s sidebar. In case you don’t see it there, go to Preferences and choose Sidebar. There, one can decide to customize what shows up in the Finder sidebar. Check whether the hard drive is set to show up there.
  2. The next stage is to come up with any important folders. The files you wish to back up may be in the corresponding folders, well-organized. Then, a user might ignore this stage. In case of another scenario when the files are scattered, choose the folder icon in Finder. Develop new folders to collect the important information.
  3. Transfer the folders to the external hard drive. Drag and drop method will work here. Once you apply this method to each folder of interest, they are automatically clones to the target hard drive. What if you are searching for the specific item to store? Apply the search option in the upper-right part of the Finder screen.

The drawback of this approach is that a simple copying does not provide system and user’s preferences backup. To clone Mac on an external drive, a user should relate to specialized third-party software.

Experts recommend downloading and installing such applications as SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner when you need to back up the system and preferences for sure. They will duplicate the information on the internal hard drive to the chosen external drive. Moreover, a user may decide on the schedules so that the process takes place at the specific time on a specific date.

In case an internal disk crashes for any reasons, a user may start up from the external drive, which is a mirror reflection of the internal information. Mind, though, that booting from the external copy might have a negative impact on the overall speed of work. Anyway, it is still better than nothing.

Get a cheap small hard disk. Let the Apple computer copy itself to it every day. Mind that after the primary backup, the apps mentioned above can update only those items that have been modified.

Pay attention that having a PowerPC Mac requires a connection via FireWire instead of USB to make it possible to boot from the copy.

Backup Mac to iCloud: Are You Ready to Spend Some Cash?

A cloud is a reliable and time-tested method to keep files. You will not be able to access the transferred information without an Internet connection. Also, mind that a free space is limited to 5GB only. To increase the space on the cloud, you have to pay depending on how much gigabytes you lack.

Upgrade an iCloud Storage

Most often, 5GB is not enough to remove all the file from Mac on iCloud. It means a user will most likely pay for the extra storage. It does not cost too much. Once you solve that issue:

  1. Launch System Preferences. Select iCloud.
  2. Pick Manage… Then, you will have to decide how much space you need to save everything you consider important. Buy More Storage feature makes it possible to grab more space immediately, but be ready to invest some money. In case you have bought a subscription but need more, you will need another Storage Just pick the option where it says to Change it. Here are some of the prices: 250GB arrives at $2.99 monthly. Users who have a lot of stuff to keep should think about expanding to one TB costs $9.99 monthly.
  3. Come back to the iCloud settings once done.
Backup to iCloud

Activate iCloud Services

It is easy and quick! Select each iCloud service available – put a tick in front of each. Check whether the Photo Library in iCloud is enabled. A keychain will help to save all passwords.

Move Your Items to iCloud Drive

It is enough to take a couple of simple steps to transfer the information. To begin with, copy each important item to have later in iCloud Drive. Clone and insert the files to iCloud Drive. Find this option in the Finder menu (e.g., films, local audio files, iMovie, images, and downloads. Never click on them and drag – above-mentioned approach works better here.

Copy Library Items

  1. Make sure the Finder tool is on.
  2. In the upper menu, press Go.
  3. Push and keep holding the Option key and select Library. In fact, a user only needs Application Support, Application Scripts, and Containers. Pick Safari if it is your main browser. Copy-paste these elements into iCloud Drive. Reinstall each application manually – there is no other way.

The Process of Restoring

An easy method is to copy Library files in iCloud Drive of your choice back into the library located on your Mac. That is how all user files, messages, and other items become available to access in iCloud. Applications alone may take some more time as you have to reinstall each.

So far, Mac users can sleep assured that their necessary data is completely safe and copied to other accessible places. You can also download and use various third-party applications from the skilled developers to solve the problems with backup.