Making backups on the Mac with Time Machine

Why making backups, I thought those Macs were exellent quality?
Thé part of your computer that has to do the hardest work is the hard disk. Hard disks can break down. And all your data is on that one disk. So to prevent crying or yelling nasty words: Macmiep advises to buy an external hard drive and use Time Machine. Buy a disk that is bigger than your Mac's hard disk.
NOTE: You can use one disk to backup multiple Macs.

What is Time Machine exactly?
Time Machine is an automatic backup program. Automatic means that you won't need to look after it. Just configure it once, and it will do it's job.

How does Time Machine do this?
The first time Time Machine starts up, it wil make a full copy of your hard disk data. Then it will only remember the changes you make. This way it saves disk space. So the first time Time Machine does it's job will take much longer than the next times.

How to configure Time Machine?

It's easy. Just connect a new external hard drive to your Mac. Mac OS will ask you whether you want to use this disk for Time Machine:

In all other cases: connect your hard disk. Wait until it's visible in the Side Bar or on your Desktop. Then go to System Preferences => Time Machine.
Turn Time Machine on with the button at the left.

Soon, the first backup will be made. This will take some time.

I don't see no hard disk

Can't see your new hard drive in System Preferences => Time Machine? Then your disk isn't formatted the right way (it has to be formatted in HSF+). This is easy to repair: just erase the disk. However:

Erasing a disk means that all data on that disk will be destroyed!!!

Erasing a hard disk
Go to Applications => Utilities and open Disk Utility.
Select the right hard disk and choose 'Erase'.
At 'Format' you choose 'Mac OS Extended (Journaled)'. Then choose the 'Erase...' button.

Your disk can now be used by Time Machine.

Configuring Apple's Time Capsule
Apple sells wirelesss external backup drives called Time Capsule.
Choose at Select Disk the Time Capsule.
No Time Capsule to be seen yet? Choose Set Up Time Capsule to connect Time Capsule to your Mac.

Exclude data from backup

I don't want all my data to be backupped!
No problem: you can exclude certain folders at 'Options':

Secure your Time Machine backup

To prevent your Time Machine data from being read by anyone else, you can choose to encode your data at Encrypt backups. Without the proper user name and password, no access is allowed.

Looking in to the past
You can search for any* document you've ever made. Time Machine can show you different versions of a document at different time stages.
Go to the Time Machine icon in the Menu Bar. Choose 'Enter Time Machine'.

* Depending on how big your TM hard disk is.

Wandering through the past
Trekkies among us may recognize the wormhole-effect. The bigger your disk, the further you can 'travel' back into time.
Use the arrows at the upper right to navigate through the past dates. Found your old file back? Now click on 'Restore' (lower right) to copy the file back to today.

Then choose to keep your original (latest) document, keep both, or replace your original with the old backup file.

NOTE: Time Machine saves one copy per hour during the last 24 hours. Then one copy a day, and finally one a month until the disk is full. Disk full? MacOS will notice you and ask your permission before ereasing the oldest file.

Backup without using Time Machine
You can choose to clone your hard drive. In case of trouble, you can copy the whole shabam back. Can be useful in case you have to install many Macs. Examples of software are CarbonCopyCloner and Superduper.

Backup individual folders manually
You can choose to copy your user folder to an external disk on a daily basis. A disadvantage is that you need to install all your programs again in case of a hard disk crash. This takes more time than restoring a Time Machine backup or copy a clone back.

External backup services

In principle, it's a good idea to have a backup on an external location, for example in case of fire.
Many companies offer backup servers or Cloud facilities. Even for free. Before making your choice, take a good look at their user license agreements. How about privacy? In case the company is American or it's servers are in the USA, don't expect privacy. More about this in the Privacy chapter.

Backup discipline
Backupping is only useful when you do it frequently! And do you use your Mac to earn a living? Then one single backup is no backup. Think of fire and theft. Consider an external backup!

Disclaimer: MacMiep is independent. This means she writes what she wants, based on 25+ years of Mac-experience. She doesn't get paid for stories (positive or negative) on this website.