Frequently Asked Question

How can I easily back up my computer?

Last Updated 2 years ago

Back up your Mac with Time Machine
Use Time Machine, the built-in backup feature of your Mac, to back up your personal data automatically, including apps, music, photos, emails and documents. Having a backup allows you to recover files that you later delete or can't access.

Connect a storage device to use for backups

Connect an external storage device to your Mac, such as a USB drive or Thunderbolt drive.

  • Only use this storage device as your Time Machine backup disk, not for storage of other files.
  • Ideally, your backup disk should have at least twice the storage capacity of every disk or volume you're backing up. If your backup disk doesn't have enough storage space to contain a complete backup, Time Machine will let you know.

Select your storage device as a backup destination

Your Mac may ask if you want to use the storage device for Time Machine backups. If it doesn't ask, follow these steps.

  1. Open Time Machine settings from the Time Machine menu
  1. in the menu bar. Or open Time Machine settings as follows:
  • macOS Ventura or later: choose Apple menu  > System Settings, click General in the sidebar, then click Time Machine on the right.
  • Earlier versions of macOS: choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Time Machine.
  • In Time Machine settings, select your external storage device as your backup destination:
    • macOS Ventura or later: click the add button (+), then follow the onscreen instructions.
    • Earlier versions of macOS: click Select Backup Disk, then follow the onscreen instructions.
  • If the storage device contains Time Machine backups from another Mac, you may be asked to claim the existing backups so they become part of the backups for this Mac. Or you can choose to start a new backup instead.
  • Make a backup

    After you've selected your storage device in Time Machine settings, Time Machine will start making periodic backups automatically.

    To start a backup manually without waiting for the next automatic backup, 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. For example, if a backup is underway, the menu will display how much of it has finished. When a backup is not underway, the menu will display the date and time of the latest backup.


    Backup is underway


    Backup has completed

    Backup frequency and duration

    Time Machine makes hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month and weekly backups for all previous months. The oldest backups will be deleted when your backup disk is full.

    Beginning with macOS Ventura, you can change the backup frequency: open Time Machine settings, click Options, then choose a setting from the "Back up frequency" menu.

    The first backup may take a long time, but you can continue using your Mac while a backup is underway. Time Machine only backs up the files that have changed since the previous backup, so future backups will be faster.

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