If you’re a Mac user, you probably know that macOS has a built-in feature called Time Machine. This backup application is used to keep an up-to-date copy of all the files on your Mac. What’s unique about it is that it captures exactly what was on your Mac any day in the past, making it easy to recover files, emails, or media that may have been inadvertently deleted. Here’s how you can make the most out of your Time Machine.
What is Time Machine and why should you use it?
Time Machine is a backup system software for Macs that run on Mac OS X Leopard or later. It makes regular periodic backups in the following intervals:
- Hourly backups for the past 24 hours
- Daily backups for the past month
- Weekly backups for previous months
Since the scheduled backups don’t replace previously saved files and only save the changes you’ve made to a file, you don’t have to worry about storage space running out fast.
Let’s say you’ve been working on a file for five days. Time Machine has periodically created backups of the changes you’ve made every day. So if you need to retrieve a version of a file with changes made on day 2, you can do so even after you’ve made several changes on the file from days 3 to 5. This is because Time Machine stores multiple copies of the file from days 1 to 5.
In case you’re getting a new Mac, you can easily copy all your files from your old computer to the new one, with your settings, files, and folders intact. And if you’re backing up data from several Mac computers, there’s no need to use a separate backup device for each Mac, Time Machine can backup to special network shares on Mac acting as a central file server or to a NAS (Network Attached Storage) server that can host Time Machine backups provided it has enough space for all the backups.
How to use Time Machine
To use Time Machine, you only need an external storage drive such as a USB, an SSD card, or any storage device that can be plugged into your Mac. Then follow these steps:
- Connect an external storage device to your Mac or connect to a special Time Machine backup volume on a server..
- Go to System Preferences > Time Machine.
- Click Use as Backup Disk. (It’s recommended that you click Encrypt Backup Disk before you do so, in order to set up a password for accessing your backup.)
- If Time Machine doesn’t automatically pop up when you connect an external storage disk, go to System Preferences > Time Machine.
- Select the storage disk you’ve just connected, then click Use Disk.
Other backup options
Although there are various other backup systems for Mac, Time Machine is one of the more practical options for users who value simplicity, convenience, and reliability. What’s more, it’s free.
That said, third-party backup systems may offer more comprehensive features. And since Time Machine only backs up data instead of the entire hard drive, restoring an entire system is relatively slower.
Despite this minor setback, Time Machine is a reliable, user-friendly, and economical way to back up your files. Whether you’re backing up a device for personal or business use, using Time Machine ensures all your files are safe and can be recovered. If you need more comprehensive backup solutions, our experts are ready to help — call us today.