Time Machine is the backup software that comes as a built-in feature of your Mac. It was introduced first with the macOS X 10.5 Leopard and is since been used by lots and lots of Mac users to back up their Macs. If you haven’t used it yet, rest assured that Time Machine gives you the easiest option for taking backup of your Mac. In fact, it’s a great solution to have when it comes to recovering your individual files that you might have deleted previously or restoring an entire hard disk drive if something goes wrong. Let’s dig a bit deeper into it.
Jump To Section:
- How It Works?
- Is It Possible To Exclude Certain Data From The Backups?
- How To Set Up Time Machine Backups For Mac
- Restoring Files From The Time Machine Backups
- Excluding Certain Files From The Time Machine Backup
- Restoring Entire Hard Disk Drive Using Time Machine Backup
How It Works?
The software works fine with any of your hard disk drives that you might have connected to a Mac through USB, Thunderbolt, or FireWire. Time Machine also extends support for Time Capsule from Apple and the backup disks that are connected to a network if the disks have AFP file sharing supported on them. The disks can be used for Time Machine backups any time if they are available to the Mac in question.
When you enable Time Machine, it captures periodic snapshots spanning all your stuff that you have on your Mac and then catalogs them all on external hard disk that you might’ve plugged into your Mac or on Time Capsule connected to the network. The software takes backup of everything you have on the hard drive not just on weekly basis but also on hourly and daily basis as well. As soon as the drive is fully occupied, oldest backups are deleted automatically by Time Machine to replace them all with latest backups that it continues to capture.
It is definitely a better approach then the conventional options like making clones of your hard drives to some external hard disk or copying files to some cloud service. The simple reason is that you do not have to restore then entire hard drive in case of losing just one file somehow. Time Machine has that great capability of retrieving specific images, projects and folders from the backups due to the layered snapshot mechanism that it follows.
From OS X Yosemite onwards, the Time Machine enables your Mac to take automatic backup once everyday even when you are not using the Time Machine drive. This capability comes with a feature called Local Snapshots. Though it consumes some of your hard disk’s space but if you are running low on space then it automatically gets rid of older backups to give you 20% of free space, at least.
Is It Possible To Exclude Certain Data From The Backups?
Yes, it is very much possible to take selective backups and set your Time Machine to exclude certain files from the backups. You have to add the files that you want to exclude to the list in Time Machine Preferences for this to work. More on this is to follow, keep reading.
How To Set Up Time Machine Backups For Mac
Here are the simple steps to follow for enabling Time Machine to take backups on your Macintosh computer.
- Go to Apple Menu and choose System Preferences
- Select Time Machine
- Click on “Select Backup Disk”
- Now choose the disk that you intend to use for Time Machine Backups
- Click to check the box labeled “Back Up Automatically” to enable Time Machine to keep taking backups of your Mac automatically on your desired disks.
Restoring Files From The Time Machine Backups
Here are the steps you should follow for restoring your files from Time Machine backups.
- Open Apple Menu and choose System Preferences
- Select Time Machine
- Check the option “Show Time Machine in Menu Bar”
- Click the icon of Time Machine in Menu Bar and then click on Enter Time Machine
- Browse to the desired file/folder and then click on Restore after selecting it
Time Machine will now copy the file to original location from where it was backed up.
Excluding Certain Files From The Time Machine Backup
As discussed earlier, it is possible to exclude certain files from the backups and here is how you can tell Time Machine that which files should be excluded.
- Go to System Preferences
- Click on Time Machine
- Now click on Options and then click on ‘+’ button
4. Select desired files/folders which you do not want the Time Machine to include in backups
5. Click on Exclude
- Finally, click Save
Your specified files will not be the part of Time Machine backups anymore.
Restoring Entire Hard Disk Drive Using Time Machine Backup
Regardless of if it is due to some major problems that you might be facing with the hard drive you are currently using or because you are upgrading your Mac, you can restore your entire hard drive using Time Machine backups. Here is how:
- Turn On your Mac and press and hold Command + R for entering into macOS Recovery Partition. You will be taken to the screen saying macOS Utilities as soon as your Mac boots up.
- Choose “Restore From Time Machine Backup” option and then click on Continue.
- You will see “Restore Your System” page now, read all the information it presents and then click on Continue.
- Select Time Machine Backup option and clock Continue.
- Select the Time Machine backup that you want to restore and click on Continue.
- The restore process starts and once it completes your Mac will restart.
If it had to be replaced with some completely empty stock drive – which doesn’t even have macOS installed on it –macOS Recovery Partition will not allow you to boot. However, you can work it around to get the recovery go on from the backup disk drive itself. Just press and hold Option key as soon as you start the Mac and it will allow you to select that backup disk to be the startup drive, and you can continue from there.
So, that’s how Time Machine feature of Macs can serve you for taking backups of your machine regularly and restoring files from those backups back to your Mac in case if you lose them or something goes horribly wrong. Enjoy the feature and set up Time Machine to take backups of your machine as you like!