Technology, no matter what kind it is, will eventually fail. There is a reason movies shot on film are often transferred over and stored onto digital, which are then uploaded and saved to other formats in order to prevent the deterioration of the material. With your computer, you run the risk of it failing on you. Over time, with electricity continually pumping through the device, something will probably falter. There often isn't anything you can do about it. Other times, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine might spill onto the keyboard and short out the system. Because you don't know what the future might hold, it's always a good idea to use a Time Machine backup.
What Is A Time Machine Backup?
Every computer system should take advantage of some kind of a physical backup. This physical backup creates duplicate files of the computer so that ,should anything ever happen to the computer, it's possible to revert back to the backup. This is what the Time Machine backup is. It's the Apple version of the backup. It refers to it as a time machine, as, even if something bad happens such as a virus finding its way onto your computer or you have to replace internal elements due to shorting the system out, you're able to go back in time and restore the system.
Apple's Time Machine backup doesn't work on its own, though. You need to activate it, and you need to have a standby hard drive available to perform this backup. It doesn't help to back up the hard drive onto the same hard drive, because if something happens to the computer you'll destroy both the original and the backup. Instead, with a connected external hard drive you have the backup on hand and you're able to have it handy, both to upload the information to a new computer or to restore it to the current one after fixing any previous issues.
Is There A Need For Time Machine To Back Up A Mac?
It is very important to have some kind of physical backup of your computer. Chances are you have important files you want to have backups to. Whether you wrote a novel or you have pictures of family members you want to save if your computer fails and the hard drive is destroyed, you could lose these files: potentially forever.
There are cloud based backups you can take advantage of, although the Apple iCloud service is limited at best, as this cloud service is designed more for images and mobile backup and not a full system backup. Additionally, other cloud services will cost a substantial amount of money to obtain the amount of space you need to back up a full computer.
With the Time Machine backup, you don't need to worry about this. All you need is an external hard drive. External hard drives are inexpensive enough now to where you can buy one that will be large enough to back up your entire hard drive for less than $100 (you can probably buy a hard drive for around $50 now, depending on the size of your drive).
This way, if your computer is ever infected with a virus and you need to recover files back to a previous time before your were infected with a virus, you'll have a complete backup. You'll also have a complete backup if your computer is damaged, lost or stolen. You never know what might happen in the future, but you can protect yourself against whatever might come your way, which is why taking advantage of the Time Machine backup is so beneficial.
How To Use Time Machine To Back Up A Mac
First, you need some kind of hard drive to connect to your computer to take advantage of the Time Machine backup. You also need to make sure this hard drive is at least the size of your current hard drive. If you're not sure how large the hard drive is on your computer, you can click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner of the screen, then choose "About This Mac." This will load a new window. Choose the "Storage" tab to see how large the hard drive is. You need to purchase a hard drive that is at least this size.
Buy A Backup Hard Drive
Apple sells its own hard drives, but you don't need an Apple specific hard drive. You can purchase nearly any hard drive. It's best to go with an SSD (solid state drive) for your backup. These kinds of drives do not have moving parts, which means the drives are more durable and less likely to suffer damage. The older spinning drives wear down and some will become damaged if they fall off your desk.
Connecting The External Drive
Before you begin with the Time Machine backup, you must connect the hard drive to your computer. Most common hard drives will connect through a USB 3.0 connection, although some Mac specific hard drives will use a Thunderbolt connection.
There are other Mac hard drives that can connect to an AirPort Extreme Base Station, which allows for a wireless transfer, but this requires you to purchase several additional devices. If you want the least expensive option, all you need is an external hard drive.
When you connect the hard drive for the first time, you may be asked if you want to use it as a backup drive with Time Machine. You can choose to either decide later, don't use or to "Use as Backup Disk." Selecting the "Use as Backup Disk" will inform your Mac to automatically see the drive as your backup hard drive whenever it is connected.
If Time Machine doesn't identify the hard drive when you first connect it you'll want to open Time Machine. If you don't have Time Machine on your dock, you can click the search option in the upper right corner of your Mac screen and then type in "Time Machine" (you can also click the Apple logo, choose "System Preferences," then choose "Time Machine."
Once the new window appears choose "Select Backup Disk" and then select the hard drive you have connected. There is an "Encryption backups" option, which is recommended, although it isn't necessary.
Format The Hard Drive
Depending on the hard drive you have you may need to format it first. If you buy a Mac specific hard drive, you won't need to do this. However, if it is a standard hard drive, it's likely formatted for a Windows-based computer system. When you connect the hard drive and go through the recognition steps the Mac will tell you if the drive needs to be formatted first. Allow the computer to format your computer.
Setting Up The Backup
Enter the Time Machine feature on your computer. When you are there, you are given the option to create a daily backup. This is recommended as then you will always have the latest updated files for your backup. Otherwise, without the daily backup you might run into problems where you are missing files (such as if you forget to back up the computer for a month or two).
Set the daily backup option on and allow the Time Machine backup to begin. The very first time you perform the backup it will take some time to complete. This is because your Mac is copying over every single file of your computer to the hard drive. This means you're likely transferring hundreds of gigabytes worth of data from your computer to the connected hard drive.
Having a USB 3.0 connected SSD hard drive is the best option when it comes to speed. It is hard to say exactly how long this might take, but it's best to perform the first backup when you won't need your computer.
It will not take this long for future backups. During future backups the entire system is not copied over. Instead, only newly created or edited files are uploaded to the Time Machine drive. So if you have created a large number of new files, or if you have edited a good number of files since the previous day's backup, it will take a few moments; but in general, all subsequent daily backups will not take long to perform when compared to the first time.
It is important to have some kind of backup to your computer system. Cloud services are helpful but generally basic and do not provide complete system backups. You can create a full system backup with several programs, but Apple provides its own built-in feature known as the Time Machine backup.
This is easy to use and easy to set up. Plus it provides you assurance tha,t even if your computer is stolen, damaged or infected with a virus, you have the ability to get all your information back.