How to back up your Mac: 13 steps

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How to back up your Mac: 13 steps
How to back up your Mac: 13 steps
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This article will show you how to back up your data and files on your Mac OS X computer and copy it to an external hard drive and / or iCloud.

Steps

Method 1 of 2: Using Time Machine

Back Up a Mac Step 1
Back Up a Mac Step 1

Step 1. Connect a formatted external hard drive to your computer

Do this with the supplied cable (USB cable, Lightning cable, or eSATA cable).

Back Up a Mac Step 2
Back Up a Mac Step 2

Step 2. Click on the Apple menu

It's the  icon in the upper left corner of the screen.

Back Up a Mac Step 3
Back Up a Mac Step 3

Step 3. Click System Preferences

It's in the second section of the dropdown menu.

Back Up a Mac Step 4
Back Up a Mac Step 4

Step 4. Click Time Machine

It's near the bottom of the window.

On older versions of Mac OS X and Time Machine, move the Time Machine slider to the On position

Back Up a Mac Step 5
Back Up a Mac Step 5

Step 5. Click Select Backup Disk

It's in the right pane of the dialog box.

Back Up a Mac Step 6
Back Up a Mac Step 6

Step 6. Click on the disk

Select an external hard drive connected to your computer.

Back Up a Mac Step 7
Back Up a Mac Step 7

Step 7. Click Use Disk

It's in the lower-right corner of the dialog box.

  • Select the "Create backups automatically" checkbox on the left pane of the dialog box if you want the computer to create backups automatically.
  • Select the Show Time Machine in Menu Bar check box to create a shortcut in the menu bar that you can use to customize Time Machine and monitor the backup process.
Back Up a Mac Step 8
Back Up a Mac Step 8

Step 8. Click Options

It's in the lower-right corner of the window.

  • Select the Allow backup when running on battery check box to have Time Machine create backups when the computer is not connected to a power source.
  • Select the Notify me after deleting old backups checkbox if you want Time Machine to tell you when it will delete old backups to make room for new ones.

Method 2 of 2: Back up to iCloud

Back Up a Mac Step 9
Back Up a Mac Step 9

Step 1. Click on the Apple menu

It's the  icon in the upper left corner of the screen.

Back Up a Mac Step 10
Back Up a Mac Step 10

Step 2. Click System Preferences

It's in the second section of the dropdown menu.

Back Up a Mac Step 11
Back Up a Mac Step 11

Step 3. Click iCloud

It's on the left side of the window.

  • If you're not automatically signed in, enter your Apple ID and password.
  • To find out the amount of your cloud storage, click Manage in the lower right corner of the dialog box, and then click Change Storage Plan in the upper right corner of the dialog box.
Back Up a Mac Step 12
Back Up a Mac Step 12

Step 4. Check the box next to "iCloud Drive"

It's at the top of the right pane. Files and documents can now be stored in iCloud.

  • To do this, select “iCloud Drive” from any Save dialog box, or drag files to “iCloud Drive” in the left pane of the Finder window.
  • Choose which apps will have access to iCloud Drive; to do this, click Options next to iCloud Drive in the dialog box.
Back Up a Mac Step 13
Back Up a Mac Step 13

Step 5. Select the types of data to be stored in iCloud

To do this, check the boxes for the following options in the "iCloud Drive" section.

  • Check the box next to Photos if you want to back up your photos and access them in iCloud.
  • Check the Mail box to sync and save emails to iCloud.
  • Check the box next to Contacts to save a copy of your contacts to iCloud.
  • Check the box next to Calendars to save a copy of your calendars to iCloud.
  • Check the Reminders checkbox to save a copy of your reminders to iCloud.
  • Check the box next to Safari to back up your Safari data (browsing history and bookmarks) to iCloud.
  • Select the checkbox next to Notes to save a copy of your notes to iCloud.
  • Select the Keychain Access checkbox to exchange an encrypted copy of passwords and payment information between devices signed in with your Apple ID.
  • You may need to scroll down the page to see all the options.

Advice

  • Check regularly that the backups are intact and up-to-date; also find out if new, better backup methods are available.
  • Back up your most important files first to protect your most valuable and irreplaceable data.
  • Be sure to transfer one backup from your computer to iCloud or to an external hard drive in case something happens to your computer.
  • ICloud storage may not be enough to back up all of your data, especially if you have a lot of music, videos, and photos. In this case, use another cloud storage like Google Photos or Microsoft OneDrive.
  • Transfer your data backups to multiple storage media, including external hard drives and iCloud, to ensure that your data can be recovered in the event of a media failure or backup corruption.
  • Save your data to CDs, DVDs, or USB flash drives as an additional backup.

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