Guide on How to Backup and Restore Mac Using Time Machine?
Regularly backing up your Mac is an important task you should do to avoid loosing of your hard worked content. Loss of data can be either due to physical damage of the SSD, data corruption or an error during upgrade. Whatever the case may be, it makes sense to prepare in advance for such a scenario, don’t you think?
Rather than spend more money on a good data recovery software later, the smart move is to backup everything on your computer on a Time Machine. Alternative you can also sync entire documents to iCloud account to access across devices.
Don’t worry; it’s not as complicated as it sounds. With an average intelligence, access to the internet and an external storage device, you’ll have all your files backed up in no time.
1. How to Back Up Your Mac Using Time Machine?
You can sync documents in iCloud drive. Unfortunately, the iCloud space is limited. Unless you’re willing to pay a little extra for more storage space, you’re stuck with only 5GB. Apple provided another inbuilt backup feature for your Mac called Time Machine.
Aside from music, photos, emails, and documents, the Time Machine also allows you to backup system files. Furthermore, you’ll be able to restore the files when or if the original data is lost or deleted. Here is a complete guide on how to do the backup using Time Machine.
1.1. External Storage
In order to backup your Mac, you need to have an external storage like hard disk drive with sufficient space. Note that you can’t store any other content on the hard drive used for backing up your Mac. So arrange a dedicated drive to have a backup of your Mac. However, not all external storages work with Time Machine. According to Apple, the types of storages include;
- External drives like normal hard drive, USB, FireWire, or Thunderbolt External Drive
- An AirPort Time Capsule
- External drive that’s Connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station
- Another Mac that is shared as a destination for Time Machine backup
In this article, let us use Seagate hard drive for backing up the Mac.
1.2. Formatting Hard Disk
You can’t use normal hard disk formatted for Windows system to backup Mac. Don’t worry, when you insert FAT or NTFS hard drive , Mac will prompt you to format the content in Mac OS format. Remember formatting the drive will delete all the content, so use new hard drive or delete all content before you want to use the disk for backing up your Mac.
Click on the “Erase” button and continue deleting all content on your drive to have it in Mac OS Extended (Case – Sensitive Journaled) format.
1.3. Select Storage Device as Backup Disk
After formatting Mac will prompt you to choose the connected drive as a backup drive for Time Machine.
Click on the “Use as Backup Disk” button. Ensure to select “Encrypt Backup Disk” checkbox. This is required especially if you have FileVault encryption enabled on your Mac’s SSD. Otherwise, you will receive a warning message during backup that you are trying to backup an encrypted content to non-encrypted drive. However, you can also continue without encryption.
When you enable encryption, Mac will prompt you to enter a password. This is an access password for your backup drive. If you forget this password, there is no possibility to access the content on your backup drive.
1.4. Time Machine Preferences
In case if your Mac doesn’t show the above prompt or you have chosen “Decide Later” or “Don’t Use” button then follow these steps to access Time Machine.
- Click on the “Apple Menu” on top left corner of the screen and go to “System Preferences...” section. Click on the “Time Machine” icon to open the preferences for time machine backup.
- Click on the padlock icon and unlock the screen for editing by entering your admin password.
- Now click on “Select Disk” button.
- Choose the device from the list and click on “Use Disk” button.
- Here also you have an option to choose “Encrypt backups”. Ensure to check this box if your Mac SSD is encrypted with FileVault.
1.5. Automatic Vs Manual Backup
You have two options backing up the entire content – automatic and manual. Select “Back Up Automatically” and the Mac will schedule a time for backup. For auto backup, you need to connect Mac with power adapter. Alternatively, you can click on the Time Machine icon on the top menu bar and choose “Back Up Now”. This will start the manual backup immediately regardless of whether you are connected to power adapter or not.
1.6. Backing Up Content
Depending upon the size of your Mac, the entire backup process may take many hours. Initially you will see the status showing as “Preparing backup...”.
After preparation, you will see the status showing the size of the backup along with the remaining time.
1.7. Insufficient Storage
There could be many errors happen during backup process. One of the main reason for termination is insufficient storage space on your backup disk.
Ensure to have 1TB or more hard disk to backup 500GB size. Because the preparation needs lot of additional space and not exactly the content size of your Mac.
1.8. Terminating Backup
You can also terminate the back anytime by clicking on the X icon in Time Machine preferences.
Otherwise, click on the Time Machine icon on the top menu bar and choose “Skip This Backup” option.
1.9. Completing the Backup
After the completion of entire backup, you will see the status of completed backup date and the next backup. You can use this to restore the Mac during emergency situation.
Related: How to backup and restore iPhone?
2. How to Restore Your Files From Time Machine?
You can restore few files or the entire backup from your Time Machine. Follow the steps outlined below to restore your files from Time Machine.
2.1. Restoring Files from Backup
If you want to restore files from Time Machine backup then connect your backup drive. Click on the “Time Machine” icon on the top menu bar and choose “Enter Time Machine”.
You will see the Finder app opens and stack ups according to the date. Use arrow buttons or the side scroller to browse through the backup according to the date.
Choose the snapshot on any old data and select the file or folder you want to restore. Now, the “Restore” button will be enabled. Click on the “Restore” button to copy the files to corresponding folder on your Mac. You can instantly restore deleted files in this manner.
2.2. Restoring Entire Mac Content from Backup
If you want to restore entire content of your Mac to the previously backed up date then connect the storage device used for backup and turn on your Mac. A setup assistant should pop up to help with the process. Otherwise, you may have to open the “Migration Assistant” from the “Application > Utilities” folder. Open the program and click “Continue”. Remember to close all other apps as the "Migration Assistant" will log out you when you click “Continue” button.
When the Migration Assistant asks for the location of your backup, select the Time Machine option and click continue. Mac will automatically detect the connected backup drive and click “Continue” again.
You may have to pick the backup to install based on the date and time. Select on the information you intend to restore and click on “Continue” to start the process.
Related: How to backup restore Windows 10 PC?
2.3. Restore Content and macOS
The last option for restoring is to restore the entire content along with the operating system. Generally this is not required for backing up the content. However, if you run into problems with your OS, you can restore your Mac to stable status using your previous Time Machine backup.
- Boot your Mac and press “Command + R” shortcut keys to open macOS in recovery mode.
- You will see masOS Utilities app open up in recovery mode, choose “Restore from Time Machine Backup” to continue.
- Choose your Time Machine disk and the backup on older date.
- On next step, select the drive on your Mac to restore the content.
- Now content and OS will be transferred from your Time Machine disk to the Mac’s drive.
After completion of the process, restart your Mac to login like before.
3. Exclude Files from Backup
The automatic Time Machine backup will include all content on your Mac. In most cases this is not necessary and excluding the files will also help to reduce the backup size.
- When you are in Time Machine preferences section, click on “Options...” button.
- One the next popup click on the + icon.
- Select files and folder to “Exclude” from next backup.