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How to Backup a Mac in Simple Steps

How to Backup a Mac in Simple Steps

Do you want to know what is the best way to make a Mac security copy? Want to backup without using an external hard drive? Want to use iCloud, Dropbox, or another cloud service? We offer you different solutions so that you can backup your Mac without a problem.

As you surely know, making backups is a very necessary and important task that we often forget. A good copy can save our computer from possible accidents, avoiding the loss of data, files, and documents.

In this article, we show you different ways to back up your Mac computer: from local backups to remote backups through cloud storage services.

We will take into account Apple tools such as iCloud or software similar to Time Machine.

What is the best way to backup on a Mac?

There are many different ways to backup on a Mac, but if you had to choose one, which one would be best?

The simplest and cheapest way is to use Apple’s free software, designed for backup, Time Machine. The only extra cost would be in case you need an external hard drive, but today you can find these devices at very good prices.

However, can we really claim that Time Machine is the best way to backup your Mac? What we can say one hundred percent is that the best way to protect your files is to use different backup methods at the same time.

Listed below are the different options for backing up a Mac.

Option 1. Time Machine

As we explained, Time Machine comes installed by default with macOS and is a very simple and cheap option. Of course, you will need to have an external hard drive or SSD.

Time Machine will make regular backups if you wish, it can be the ideal way to always have your data protected. The only drawback is that you will always have to remember to connect the external hard drive or no copy will be made.

You’ll also need plenty of storage memory because Copies of Time Machine usually take up a lot of space. We recommend having more than 1 TB. To back up with Time Machine:

  1. Connect a hard drive or SSD (alternatively you can also connect a NAS disk).
  2. A message will appear on your Mac asking if you want to use the disk connected with Time Machine. Click on the ‘Use as backup disk’ option.
  3. If you don’t see this message, make sure you’ve connected your disk correctly and that you have mac OS Extended.
  4. If you still don’t see the message, then head to ‘System Preferences > Time Machine > Backup Disk’.
  5. Choose the disk you have connected and click ‘Use Disk’.

Option 2. Use a backup program to clone your hard drive

Obviously, there are alternatives to Time Machine that you may prefer for several reasons. We recommend you take a look at the best software to make backups, among which are: Acronis, ChronoSync, Carbon Copy Cloner, Carbonite or SuperDuper.

You will also need to have an external hard drive, and you will also have to remember that this disk is always connected so that the backups can be made automatically (once configured).

Normally, you will have to follow the following steps (they are practically the same in all programs):

  1. Connect the external hard drive.
  2. You may need to format the external drive before you can use it. In that case, open ‘Disk Utility’ and with the external drive selected, click ‘Erase’, choose the macOS Extended (Journaled) from the format options and click ‘Erase’ again.
  3. Open the backup software of your choice.
  4. Surely the program will give you the option to copy what is in the internal storage of your Mac to the external drive. You should pay attention to what you are going to copy, make sure to copy all the files, because otherwise, your clone might not be able to boot.
  5. Before the copy starts, you may need to enter your password and confirm that you are willing to delete everything on the external drive.
  6. Expect the cloning process to take a while, once done, click ‘OK’.

Option 3: iCloud

This option will depend on whether you pay for Apple’s monthly subscription for iCloud or not. In case you do, iCloud can be a way to backup your Mac.

This solution can be very useful especially if you have more than one Mac and want to access the same files from each of your devices (including iPhone and iPad). To back up your Mac with iCloud:

  1. Open ‘System Preferences’ on your Mac and click ‘iCloud’.
  2. Sign in to iCloud.
  3. Check the box next to iCloud.
  4. Click the ‘Options’ box next to iCloud.
  5. Make sure the boxes for everything you want backed up to iCloud are checked.
  6. Open the ‘Finder’ and you will see an iCloud Drive folder in the top left corner. Click to open it. You can move any folder on your Mac that isn’t in iCloud to be copied so that you can access it from other Apple devices.

With these options selected, any connected device with the same Apple ID can share access to the same files and the same ‘System Preferences’ settings. Another advantage is the fact that backing up to iCloud means that you don’t need to have an external drive.

Keep in mind that other proposed options could allow you to easily recover a clone of your old Mac on a new Mac, including applications and all the settings, but iCloud does not allow this option.

But you’ll be able to access all the data you’ve been storing in iCloud, and when it comes to apps, you’ll be able to reinstall the ones you’ve downloaded from the Mac App Store by simply connecting and accessing the list of purchased items.

Option 4: Dropbox, Google Drive, or another cloud storage service

There are many alternatives to iCloud if you are looking for a way to sync and share your files. You may already be using Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive.

As with iCloud, these services allow you to subscribe to data plans that will allow you to store all your files in the cloud. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to clone your Mac either, only saving files like photos, videos, or documents.

  1. Sign in to Dropbox, download the software, and install it on your Mac.
  2. Once the software is installed, open Dropbox. You will see the interface where you can copy all the files.
  3. Click ‘Upload Files’ or ‘Upload Folder’, locate the folder you want to upload and click ‘Choose’. Wait while the folder loads.
  4. You can also easily drag your files and folders to Dropbox via ‘Finder’. When DropBox is installed on your Mac, you will see a DropBox tab in the ‘Favorites’ part of the Finder, just drag and drop any file into that folder and it will be backed up to Dropbox and accessed from any other computer or iOS device that has Dropbox installed.

Option 5: External backup

The two options above allow you to sync and share files between different devices, as well as keep them safe in the cloud in case your computer fails.

There are online solutions designed specifically for backup, such as Carbonite that will back up your website online. You have to pay, but Carbonite also offers a 15-day free trial.

The advantage of one of these cloud backup services is that the backup is remote, so if your Mac were destroyed in a fire or flood along with your Time Machine backup, you would have a copy of all your data in a safe place.

If your Mac crashes, is lost or stolen, you can recover all your data thanks to this cloud backup, as long as you have access to the Internet.

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