How to use Time Machine on MacOS Part 1

We all know without exception that backing up your devices is a critical step in protecting your most important data. 

How to use Time Machine on MacOS
Use Time Machine on MacOS

It's very easy to lose years of photos, files, and other data due to a hard drive failure or your laptop's not tolerating a spilled glass of water. To help you, macOS has a Time Machine, which automatically backs up and saves your macOS versions. Setup is relatively simple, and accessing the older versions is very easy.

Together, we'll take a look at everything you need to use Time Machine, from backing up your latest version to recovering lost data.

Use Time Machine on MacOS

Create a backup

To back up using Time Machine, you need an external drive. Any old hard drive will work as long as you can connect it to your device. If you have a recent MacBook, you will need a USB-C / Thunderbolt SSD or a dongle that can connect to a USB-A device. We will also see how to use a NAS as well as another Mac as a Time Machine backup.

Which hard drive is recommended to have?

First, you'll need a Time Machine drive, as it will fill up fairly quickly depending on the size of your system. The general rule of thumb is to have an external hard drive two to four times the size of the internal storage. So if you have a 500GB MacBook Air, you should look for an external drive in the 1 TB to 2 TB range as a minimum. It increases if you plan to have a lot of huge files like 4K videos or RAW photos.

In the SSD vs HDD debate, it really depends on your individual preferences and needs. The SSD will be faster, but larger can be more expensive. Hard drives are slower, but you can get much more storage for a much lower cost. You can get an 8 TB external hard drive for roughly $ 150, which is definitely the most cost-effective option.

However, you don't need to worry about purchasing multiple drives. Time Machine will automatically delete older backups as soon as your hard drive becomes full. The size of the hard drive determines the "depth" of the backups you can install on the device.

You may also need to reformat the drive by simply choosing one, as Time Machine cannot be used on a drive formatted for Windows. If you plan to use a drive you already own, be sure to find a new home for all the files on it.

Use Time Machine on MacOS
Use Time Machine on MacOS

Should I partition a hard drive?

Yes. You can use both a Windows drive and a Time Machine drive, and you don't need to worry about overloading your Time Machine backups. Time Machine will work the same way and start deleting old backups once it reaches the maximum partition allocation.

Connect your hard drive

Once you've selected the drive (or partition) you're going to use, it's time to create a backup. Doing it is quite simple. The steps are as follows:

  • Step 1: plug in your external storage.
  • Step 2: Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner and select Preferences> Time Machine.
  • Step 3: Click on the button that says Select Backup Disk. You'll also want to check the Automatically back up box under the Time Machine logo.
  • Step 4: A menu will pop up showing the available disks to use Time Machine. Select the drive you want to use. You also have the option to encrypt backups, so only users with a password can access the backup. Once you are done, select Use Disk.

Using another Mac

It is also possible to back up Time Machine on other Macs. This is great if you have a Mac Mini with lots of storage and want to protect the data on your MacBook without buying a bunch of extra gear. To set up your Mac as a Time Machine destination, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Click the Apple menu and scroll down to System Preferences> Sharing> File Sharing.
  • Step 2: Near the center is the Shared Folders menu. Click the (+) button and select which folder should be the Time Machine backup.
  • Step 3: Control-click the folder and scroll down to Advanced Options and select Share as a Time Machine backup destination.

Backing up Time Machine over the network

It is recommended that you follow the same steps listed above, but you should see your other Mac or NAS device appear as a storage option when you get to the hard drive selection screen. Select it and run things as usual. The good thing about Time Machine is that there are hardly any additional steps to getting alternative options like this.

To be able to verify that your network backups are correct, hold down the Option key and select Verify Backups when the Time Machine menu appears.

After receiving confirmation that your backups are operational, let's see how to access and restore files and older versions on your Mac.

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