To use Time Machine to make a backup of your Mac, you need one of these types of storage devices:
- External drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac) or AirPort Time Capsule
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External drive connected to your Mac
Time Machine can back up to an external drive connected to a USB, Thunderbolt, or FireWire port on your Mac. If the disk isn't using the correct format, Time Machine will prompt you to erase it.
Network-attached storage (NAS) device that supports Time Machine over SMB
Many third-party NAS devices support Time Machine over SMB. For details, check the documentation for your NAS device.
Mac shared as a Time Machine backup destination
To use another Mac on your network as a Time Machine backup destination, complete these steps on the other Mac:
- Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing.
- From the list of services on the left, select File Sharing.
- From the Shared Folders list on the right, click the add button (+), then choose a folder to use for Time Machine backups.
- Control-click the folder that you added, then choose Advanced Options from the shortcuts menu that appears.
- From the Advanced Options dialog, select “Share as a Time Machine backup destination.”
When setting up Time Machine on your other Mac computers, you should now be able to select the shared folder as a backup disk.
External drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac) or AirPort Time Capsule
Time Machine can back up to an external USB drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac model) or AirPort Time Capsule.
- Connect the drive directly to your Mac, then use Disk Utility to erase it.
- Connect the drive to a USB port on your AirPort base station, then turn it on.
- Open AirPort Utility, then select your base station and click Edit to view its settings.
- Click the Disks tab in the settings window.
- Select your backup disk from the list of partitions, then select “Enable file sharing”:
- If more than one user on your network will back up to this disk with Time Machine, you can use the Secure Shared Disks pop-up menu to make sure that they can view only their own backups, not yours. Choose “With accounts” from the menu, then click the add button (+) to add users.
- Click Update to restart your base station and apply the settings.
AirPort Time Capsule
Time Machine can back up to the built-in hard disk of an AirPort Time Capsule on your network.
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- Time Machine can't back up to a disk formatted for Windows, or to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
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Use Time Machine, the built-in backup feature of your Mac, to automatically back up your personal data, including apps, music, photos, email, and documents. Having a backup allows you to recover files that were deleted, or that were lost because the hard disk (or SSD) in your Mac needed to be erased or replaced. Learn how to restore your Mac from a backup.
Create a Time Machine backup
To create backups with Time Machine, all you need is an external storage device. After you connect the storage device and select it as your backup disk, Time Machine automatically makes hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months. The oldest backups are deleted when your backup disk is full.
Connect an external storage device
Connect one of the following external storage devices, sold separately. Learn more about backup disks that you can use with Time Machine.
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- External drive connected to your Mac, such as a USB or Thunderbolt drive
- Network-attached storage (NAS) device that supports Time Machine over SMB
- Mac shared as a Time Machine backup destination
- AirPort Time Capsule, or external drive connected to an AirPort Time capsule or AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac)
Select your storage device as the backup disk
- Open Time Machine preferences from the Time Machine menu in the menu bar. Or choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Time Machine.
- Click Select Backup Disk.
- Select your backup disk from the list of available disks. To make your backup accessible only to users who have the backup password, you can select “Encrypt backups”. Then click Use Disk:
If the disk you selected isn't formatted as required by Time Machine, you're prompted to erase the disk first. Click Erase to proceed. This erases all information on the backup disk.
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Enjoy the convenience of automatic backups
After you select a backup disk, Time Machine immediately begins making periodic backups—automatically and without further action by you. The first backup may take a long time, but you can continue using your Mac while a backup is underway. Time Machine backs up only the files that changed since the previous backup, so future backups will be faster.
To start a backup manually, 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.
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- Learn about other ways to back up and restore files
- If you back up to multiple disks, you can press and hold the Option key, then choose Browse Other Backup Disks from the Time Machine menu.
- To exclude items from your backup, open Time Machine preferences, click Options, then click the add (+) button to add an item to be excluded. To stop excluding an item, such as an external hard drive, select the item and click the remove (–) button.
- If using Time Machine to back up to a network disk, you can verify those backups to make sure they're in good condition. Press and hold Option, then choose Verify Backups from the Time Machine menu.