If you often rely on your Mac computer for completing your day-to-day tasks, you must set a habit of backing it up in a timely manner. So if unfortunately, your system crashes someday, you can easily restore your files using the backups.
A reliable way of protecting your system files is by backing them up on an external hard drive. And for this, MacOS has provided you with a built-in tool that can automatically do so. Other than that, you can back up your files manually or use third-party applications as well.
So, follow this guide till the end to fully understand how you can create your Mac backups in an efficient way.
How to Backup Mac to External Hard Drive?
The process of backing up your Mac to an external hard drive is pretty easy. However, you must make sure that your hard drive has enough disk space available. We recommend using a hard drive with a total storage of at least 1 TB or more. Although a smaller-sized drive might do the job, for now, it’ll undoubtedly fill up faster than expected.
The exact time to completely back up your Mac depends on how much data are currently stored on your computer. So, to do it a bit faster, remove any unnecessary files and folders from your computer before the backup process.
Before you start backing up to an external drive, you first have to make sure that it is set to the correct format. For this, we recommend you format the drive to exFAT. For this,
- Plug your drive into the computer.
- Press Command + Space to open the Spotlight search.
- Type and go to Disk Utility.
- Select your external drive from the left panel.
- Click on Erase.
- Set the File format to exFAT.
- Finally, click on Erase.
Backup Using Time Machine
MacOS provides you with Time Machine, a built-in backup tool that can automatically backup your Mac on either an hourly, daily, or weekly basis. The process to do so is relatively simple and can be done directly through the system preferences. So,
- Plug your drive into the computer.
- Click on the Apple menu.
- Go to System Preferences.
- Open Time Machine.
- Go to Options.
- Here, you can add ‘+’ any folders to the list to prevent backing it up.
- Then, click on Save.
- Now, Select Backup Disk.
- Choose your external hard drive from the list.
Click Erase if prompted.
- If you want, you can Encrypt backups as well.
If you choose to do so, set a new password for accessing your backup data.
- Wait until the backup process completes.
- For automatic future backups, mark the option to Back Up Automatically.
- Also, mark the option to Show Time Machine in menu bar.
Once the backing up process begins, you can track and alter the progress from the menu bar as well. That is, you’ll see a new icon pop up on the menu bar that resembles the Time Machine icon.
Through this option, you can choose to see the overall progress and skip the backup, among others. However, Time Machine cannot be used to clone your disk drive.
If you only have a few important data to back up on an external drive, you can do so manually as well. Although it might seem like hard work to manually copy each file and paste it on your drive, it’s still a big time saver if you know where all the essential documents are located at. So,
- Plug your hard drive into the computer.
- Right-click on your important document and select Copy.
- Open your drive.
- Right-click on an empty process and select Paste Item.
- Repeat the process until you backup everything you need.
Backup Using Third-Party Applications
If you’re not too fond of Time Machine, you can choose to backup your files using Time Machine. With other backup software, you can work around the limitations of Time Machine; that is, you can easily clone your entire disk drive.
Although we rarely recommend our readers to use third-party applications, there is plenty of backup software that does the job for you. So much so that we decided on making an entire article on the best backup software for Mac. If you’re interested, check it out.
Benefits of Backing up Your Mac
Backing up your system prevents data loss, manages system storage, and increases the overall efficiency of your computer. So, here are the reasons that encourage you to backup your data in an external hard drive:
- Prevent attacks from hackers and spammers
- Maintain your security standard
- Manage your system storage
- Protect data loss and breach
- Restore system easily