How to back up your Mac with Time Machine

When we talk about Time Machine we refer to one of the most appreciated functions of the macOS world, which distinguishes Apple machines (among other things) from the rest of the world's productions. It is a backup system that is decidedly different from those of others.

In fact, its objective is not only to make a "copy" of the system and its data. In fact, it intends to make everything as "pleasant" as possible for the user, avoiding that the procedure turns into a particularly tedious process. So here's what Time Machine is and how it works.

What is a backup

It's best to start with the basics, so as to extend a hand to those who are not at all familiar with computers. It's always good to have a lifeboat for your data, in case something very important decides to give out on your Mac. The reference is mainly to the hard disk. For this reason a backup is made, i.e. a saving of all the data and settings contained within it.

Of course the final package cannot be crammed inside the device. This way it will be lost like everything else. It will have to be crammed onto an external drive, so that it can come in handy, if not essential, at the right time.

Time Machine: the external drive

See the differences that exist between Time Machine and the many other backup systems. Perhaps the most important element is the fact that it is natively integrated within the operating system. This is no small thing, considering the guaranteed fluidity of the process. After the first startup, after a few seconds, it is already possible to enable Time Machine, which is there waiting for the user from the very first moments. There is no need to install anything. Added to that is the great simplicity of use and, let's say it, the beauty of the process, which doesn't hurt.

What you absolutely need, before starting Time Machine, is an external hard drive. The market is overflowing with them and it's not at all difficult to find the most suitable one for performance, capacity and file transfer speed. It is good to make sure that the external device has enough space to cope with the loading of a backup. Alternatively, you can take advantage of a Time Capsule drive.

All you need to do to enable your new external device in Time Machine is to plug it in, with the click of a button. The system will do everything for you, making the experience as serene and stress-free as possible. The system will ask you whether to use it as a Time Machine drive or not. You'll be able to decide whether to do it now or later. To do this later you'll have to access the Time Machine "preferences" area. In case the message does not appear initially, you are faced with an external drive that has not been formatted correctly. If there is one obstacle you might encounter along the way, it is this. OS X will only allow you to manage Time Machine drives if you have formatted them properly.

Solving this problem is very simple. All you need to do is access another app on your Mac: Disk Utility. In the left-hand section you'll have to select the drive you just connected. At the top you can click on "initialize". The system will ask you for some information. The first is the format, which must be Mac OS Extended. The second is the name, which can be chosen freely by the user.

Time Machine: backup

Once you are sure that the external drive you have found is ready to be used, you should proceed to connect it to Time Machine, as indicated above. The system will immediately start working, collecting any data on the system. Each item will be stored in the internal memory. If you leave the unit connected, you'll have the possibility to constantly update your backups.

This way you'll have access to even very old files. An archive of all the processes carried out, essential for those who use the Mac for work. But what happens when the external memory is full? The system will delete the oldest data, assuming that it is no longer needed. It will then make room for the new ones. The larger the capacity of the external memory, the less likely you are to encounter this problem. These days, however, you can find drives ranging from 1TB to 14TB at great prices. More than enough space.

Time Machine also provides the possibility to customize the data saving process. For example, it is possible to exclude some folders considered useless. In this way, you avoid occupying important space in the external memory with irrelevant data. In order to indicate your preferences, all you need to do is to select the "preferences" function of Time Machine.

At the top of the Mac screen is an apple symbol. After clicking on this, you will have to select the "System Preferences" item, then go to "Time Machine". From here you can enable or disable the various backups. At the same time you'll be given the option of setting up a new external disk as a favorite for future backups. There are also "exception" folders that you can specify, which will not be taken into account when saving data. The process does not require anything else. A few settings that allow the average user to operate with peace of mind. Time Machine also offers other settings and customization possibilities. As mentioned, however, the system does everything to simplify the user's life, keeping "local backups" for example, without warning or asking for permissions. This is a process that involves the most recent files, which have not yet been synchronized with the external drive. These are at-risk items that find themselves in a middle ground. These could vanish into thin air in the event of a major failure. Instead, the system provides a sort of limbo and, before saving everything in the next backup, it crams them and prevents their accidental deletion. A sort of safety net, which you don't even need to set up.

Time Machine: restoring your backup

In the system tray you'll find the Time Machine icon. After clicking on it, you enter the Apple backup recovery system. The first impact is certainly exhilarating, considering the excellent graphics provided by the system. This helps to make the experience exciting, which is not something you would expect from backup data recovery.

You find yourself looking at a classic Finder window. In the right area, however, there is a timeline. Each backup is shown in chronological order, offering the user the possibility to take a real time travel through the personal history of his computer. Hence the name of the Mac's native application.

You can move the cursor over a specific day, with Time Machine displaying every content present in that 24 hours. You have the option to operate at your leisure, restoring the whole thing or a single file. A key function not only in case your machine gets damaged, but also in case you upgrade to the next model. Recovering your data is a breeze, and that includes wallpapers, passwords, Wi-Fi networks and more.

What is Time Capsule

After discovering and analyzing how Time Machine works, Mac business users may be tempted to do a quick search for external storage that suits their needs. If you want a model that is fully compatible with your Mac, i.e. an Apple-branded product, you can opt for the Time Capsule. The last model dates back to 2016, and since then the Cupertino company has discontinued the line of updates. However, it's a model that can stand up to the competition in recent years, providing 2 to 3 TB of internal space.

It can store different backups, so you can cram copies of different Macs at once. Unlike many other models, Time Capsule uses wireless connectivity. No cables are needed. This means that you can leave it in any position in your studio, knowing that your Mac will be able to locate it and connect to it. In addition to communicating with Time Machine, Time Capsule boasts some extra features that are not insignificant. You can use the device as a Wi-Fi and LAN access point, connecting it to an ADSL modem. You can also use it to connect an additional external drive, given the possibility of USB connection. You will also be able to start and manage a wireless printer with great convenience and effortlessness.

A definitely good product that you can compare with other models, so you can make an informed decision. A reliable support for those who use Macs for business purposes. The only real limitation is the internal space. Having 3TB on hand is no small feat. Those who might look for larger drives, also considering the cost, are those professionals who are used to working with movies, constantly busy between editing and editing. The weight of such work may require more capacity.