How to Make a Time Machine Backup on a Mac

Time Machine backups are a easy and effective way of backing up your Apple Computer

Prerequisites: A member Apple Mac machine and an external storage device 

Difficulty Level: Member • Nerd • Platypus 

Estimated Time: 30 minutes

Expected Outcome: That the computer can be backed up contentiously to the external 

Tools Required:

Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 5.00.45 PM-1

Steps to Perform 

  1. Create a Time Machine backup

    To create backups with Time Machine, all you need is an external storage device. After you connect the storage device and select it as your backup disk, Time Machine automatically makes hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months. You do not need to worry about running out of space as the oldest backups are deleted when your backup disk is full. 

    Connect an external storage device

    Connect one of the following external storage devices, sold separately. Learn more about backup disks that you can use with Time Machine.

    • External drive connected to your Mac, such as a USB or Thunderbolt drive
    • Network-attached storage (NAS) device that supports Time Machine over SMB
    • Mac shared as a Time Machine backup destination
    • AirPort Time Capsule, or external drive connected to an AirPort Time capsule or AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac)

    Select your storage device as the backup disk

    1. Open Time Machine preferences from the Time Machine menu  in the menu bar that sits near the top right corner of the screen. Or click on the Apple menu in the top left  > System Preferences, then click Time Machine.
    2. Click Select Backup Disk.
      macOS System Preferences Time Machine window
    3. Select your backup disk from the list of available disks. To make your backup accessible only to users who have the backup password, you can select “Encrypt backups”. Then click Use Disk:
      macOS System Preferences Time Machine window Select Backup Disk chooser

    If the disk you selected isn't formatted as required by Time Machine, you're prompted to erase the disk first. Click Erase to proceed. This erases all information on the backup disk. 

    Enjoy the convenience of automatic backups

    After you select a backup disk, Time Machine immediately begins making periodic backups—automatically and without further action by you. The first backup may take a long time, but you can continue using your Mac while a backup is underway. Time Machine backs up only the files that changed since the previous backup, so future backups will be faster.

    To start a backup manually, choose Back Up Now from the Time Machine menu  in the menu bar. Use the same menu to check the status of a backup or skip a backup in progress.