Shit happens: Although it is rare, even a Mac can crash. And believe it or not, it always happens at the moment you are working on something fundamental. Let alone all the documents, music and photo’s you stored on your Mac! Here is read everything about the backup program included in macOS and OSX: Apple’s Time Machine.
What is Time Machine?
Time Machine is the standard backup program delivered with Apple’s operating systems for Mac computers, macOS OSX. Time Machine is an easy and fun to use solution. Apple has put a lot of effort to make the Time Machine intuitive and easy to use for everyone, without any technical terms and other complicated stuff. Apple did a pretty good job, but a little explanation and background info can never hurt.
Setting up Time Machine
Time Machine is pretty straightforward to set up. The only thing you need to be aware of is the fact that you need an external hard-drive with the following specifications:
- USB, Firewire 400/800 or Thunderbolt interface, whatever specs your Mac has.
- At least twice the capacity of your original hard-drive(s) to be backed-up.
Of course, you can use Apple’s hard-drive, the Time Capsule. If you have the money to buy this, it is a good (wireless) solution. Otherwise, a good external hard drive will do the trick also.
Per default, if you attach the external drive to your Mac, a pop-up message will appear asking you if you want to use this new drive as a backup drive.
The easiest way to continue is to click on the button: ‘Use as Backup Disk.’ After this, everything’s done automatically. That was pretty simple ah? There’s also an option to encrypt your backup disk. Choose this option if you want your backups accessible only to users with the password.
Ok, what if the pop-up message doesn’t appear automatically?
Well, just open System Preferences > Time Machine.
Click on the button that says ‘Select Disk’ and find/select your new hard-drive. That’s it!
Time Machine options
There are a few options available for Time Machine. For regular use, the default is enough. But for those who want some control, here are the options available:
If you want to include or exclude items from being backed-up, you can change the settings. Just go to System Preferences > Time Machine and click the button Options. You see that other external hard-drives are not included in the backups by default, but you can add them if you want. Here you can include or exclude files, folders or even entire hard-drives, as mentioned before. Click on ‘save’ when you are finished.
By default, the Time Machine appears in your Mac Toolbar on the right upper corner of your screen. You can change this in the system preferences of course. From this icon in the Mac Toolbar, you have a shortcut to the settings and info about the status of your backup. By clicking on ‘Backup Now,’ you can run an immediate backup. Here you also find the menu-item: ‘Enter Time Machine.’ Read on for further explanation about this one.
And when Time Machine completes a backup, it alerts you with a notification.
Once you set up Time Machine, it automatically makes hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months. The oldest backups are deleted when your backup drive is full.
First Backups Take Time
Your first backup takes a long time to complete so be patient. This duration depends on how many files you have on your Mac. Though it’s faster not to use your Mac when it’s backing up for the first time, if need be you can continue using your Mac while a backup is underway.
Once the first backup is complete, all future Time Machine includes only the files that you’ve changed since the previous backup. That means subsequent backups are a heck of a lot faster!
Power Naps are for Macs too!
Turning on Power Nap allows certain Macs to make backups even when asleep.
How to restore a single file or folder from the Time Machine?
This feature is the coolest part of Time Machine: Click on ‘enter Time Machine’ in the Mac Toolbar and see what happens. Your screen transforms into a real time machine. Every overlapping window in the center is a backup on a certain time/date. You can find the time and date on your right side. When you click on a specified date, Time Machine will go back to that date/time and show the status of your Mac at that chosen time.
If you found your lost file, folder or application, just select it and click on ‘restore’ in the right bottom corner. Time Machine will restore the selected item(s) automatically.
How to restore your entire computer from a BackUp?
If you just bought a new Mac, don’t forget to make a backup from your old Mac using Time Machine. During the process of setting up the new Mac, the system will ask you if you want your backup to be installed, instead of the full new system. If you click on ‘yes,’ then the whole system will be restored on the new Mac, and you can work again like before without the hustle of installing all the apps again.
Time Machine is a good and stable solution for most of your backup needs.
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the original editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.