The Best Way to Backup Mac to the External Hard Drive
If we are to be entirely honest with ourselves, Mac computers have become quite popular nowadays. Lots and lots of people all over the world are enthused by this brand of computers from Apple and it has become the norm to get one of them. They are well-built and filled with numerous features that are breathtaking, to say the least.
But despite all this, buying a Mac doesn’t mean that you are safe from data loss. Any good tech can fail, and it’s always important to back up a Mac to make sure that all your data is kept safe and intact and you can recover it. One of the most popular ways to do this is by backing up to an external hard drive. These drives usually can store large volumes of data. They are therefore a sure bet for you if you are looking to back up your Mac.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the best way to backup your Mac to the external hard drive is by using the Time Machine app which is installed in your macOS. It is by far the cheapest and most effective way of backing up all the data you may have on your Mac.
In this article, we are going to give you a step by step guide on how you can safely back up your Mac onto an external hard drive to ensure the safety of your data. Not only that, but we are also going to explore some of the other ways in which you can backup your Mac. So keep your eyes glued to this piece because it’s certain to be an enlightening read for you!
Backing up files is a great step into securing your technical world. A greater measure would be securing your traffic by encrypting your network traffic.
The Best Way to Backup Mac to the External Hard Drive
Let’s be honest. Losing files from your computer can be a huge bummer, especially if the data lost is of great importance to you. And more often than not, it can be frustrating and quite expensive to try and get these files back. That’s why external hard drives are such a useful tool. You may not want to spend the extra buck to get them, but if you value the data you have on your Mac, it won’t hurt to get one.
The simplest and cheapest way to backup your Mac, as we’ve already mentioned earlier, is by using the Time Machine app which is aptly installed into your macOS.
It’s always a good idea to backup your Mac to an external hard drive in case your computer’s hard drive fails or your computer crashes. Sure enough, we all know this is important. But understanding how to properly backup your Mac on an external hard drive is often a problem for most people. Fear not, however, we have you covered! We will give you a step by step account of how to properly back up your Mac to an external hard drive. So definitely read on!
Step 1: Make sure your drive is properly formatted
Before you can start backing up your Mac to your external hard drive, it’s important to first of all format it for the MacOS extended file system. This is because save for a few exceptions, most external hard drives are not pre-formatted for Macs. Luckily though, this process is quite simple. So how do you do this?
You firstly connect your drive to your mac. A new drive is always preferred because it’s less complicated than an older one with data already stored in.
Next, launch Disk Utility on your Mac. You do this by going to your Mac’s menu bar. Click Go, and then Utilities. In the window that appears, click on Disk Utility. You then need to find the drive that you want to format. All drives and their volumes will be listed under Disk Utility. You should make sure to pick the right one.
Next, you need to Erase the drive. In the Disk Utility window, click on Erase and confirm. After this, rename the drive. You can call it something like Mac Backup if you’ll be using the drive primarily to backup your data.
After this, you will be asked to choose a new map scheme. The choices will include Extended (Journaled), Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled), Extended (Journaled, Encrypted), and so on. So pick one of them. If you are unsure, we recommend the fourth format.
Next, head on over to Security Options and make sure that the drive is set to write over any past data at least three times. After this, click on Erase and Confirm.
Now your external hard drive will be ready for use to backup your Mac. So after formatting your drive, to safely backup your Mac, follow these additional steps.
Step 2: Launch Time Machine
Before we get started, however, we should mention that the best and most preferred method of backing up your Mac is by using the Time Machine. This is a tool that can automatically make backups of your Mac onto an external hard drive. It’s built into the macOS and is fairly simple to set up. It can back up apps, music, documents, emails, photos, and system files. When turned on, Time Machine will back up your files hourly, daily, or weekly. You just need to connect your drive often for your backups to be constantly updated.
Launching the Time Machine is relatively easy. To start, click on the Apple icon in the Apple menu. Note that the Apple icon is always located on the top-left corner of your screen.
Next click on the System Preferences option and you will be redirected to another window. In this window, you will see the Time Machine icon. It looks like a curving arrow that points downwards which surrounds a clock face. Click on this to open Time Machine. After this, the application will be launched and you can now begin the process of backing up your Mac.
Step 3: Select Backup Drive
After you have launched Time Machine, the next step is to select the backup disk. Under Select Disk, you will find various options to choose from so you can backup your data. If you followed the formatting steps in the first section, then this should be no problem. If your drive is encrypted, you will be required to enter the password.
Step 4: Click the Back Up Automatically box
Make sure that the box for Back-Up Automatically is checked. This will automatically start to back up your files on Mac to your chosen disk. After this, you are good to go.
If anything goes wrong, you will be able to retrieve your data with ease. One important thing to note, however, is that you should always connect your drive from time to time so that Time Machine can back up any additional data that may be on your Mac.
At times, you may not want to backup all the data on your Mac. If you only want to backup specific files on your Mac, then follow these simple steps.
Step 1: Open Finder
Opening Finder is easy. You can access it anytime from the Dock. Check on the left side of your Finder window to see that your external hard drive is present in the sidebar. If your drive is properly formatted and connected then you will see it here. If not, click on the Finder option, then Preferences in the menu bar. Proceed to select Sidebar and then choose to customize what appears in the Finder sidebar. Make sure your drive is set to appear.
Step 2: Create any necessary folders
If the files you’d like to backup are already properly organized into folders, then you can skip this step. However, if your files are scattered, then you can head to the folder icon in Finder and create a new folder. Then gather your data into the folder. This will make it easier for you to trace the files on your drive.
Step 3: Move the folders into your external hard drive
Proceed to drag and drop the folders you’d like to backup to your drive in your sidebar. This will automatically copy them. So if anything goes wrong, your files will be backed up.
Undoubtedly, Time Machine is the best way to back up your Mac to an external hard drive. This is because it automatically backs up all your files whenever you connect the drive. It does this hourly, daily, or weekly. So for this reason, it’s wise to invest in a large storage drive that can store a lot of files without getting full. So if you are looking to back up your Mac to an external drive, follow the steps above and you’ll be good to go.
Other Ways to Backup Mac to External Hard Drive
Backing up your Mac through Time Machine isn’t the only way you can safeguard your data from getting lost. There are other ways that are just as effective and which will ensure that if anything goes wrong, you will be able to retrieve your sensitive information.
In this section, we are going to discuss each of these methods and the appropriate steps you can follow to back up your Mac. So read on to find out more.
1. Manual Backup
If you feel that using Time Machine to backup your data is too complicated for you, then there’s always the option to manually backup the data on your Mac. This may take you a little bit of time, however. So to manually back up your Mac to an external hard drive, follow these simple steps.
Step 1: Connect the External Hard Drive to your Mac
Using a USB cable, connect your drive to the computer and wait for the icon of that drive to appear on your desktop. Next, double-click on the external hard drive icon to open the disk window. By default, drives that are compatible with macOS will be ready for use as soon as they are connected. If your drive isn’t showing up on the desktop, however, then refer to the manual for setup instructions.
Step 2: Locate Backup files
The next step is to click on Finder on the Desktop. This will launch a window that will enable you to locate all the files on your Mac which you would like to backup to your external hard drive.
Step 3: Drag and Drop
Drag all of the files you’d like to backup from your system from their location on your device’s hard drive to the external hard drive’s disk window. This will transfer all the files on your Mac onto your external hard drive. You can then proceed to create a folder for your backups.
Step 4: Safely eject the drive
Once all the files have been safely transferred to the drive, close the external hard drive’s disk window. Make sure that no files are still in the process of being copied before you close the window. To eject the drive safely, drag the external hard drive’s icon from the desktop to the Trash bin.
After these simple steps. All the files on your Mac will be safely backed up on your external hard drive.
2. Use backup software to clone your hard drive
In the case of failure or loss of data, you can use a clone of your Mac for recovery. This is relatively similar to using Time Machine but the difference is that you make use of other cloning software like ChronoSync, Carbon Copy Cloner, Carbonite, or Acronis. These software enable you to create a clone of your computer’s hard drive and save it onto an external hard drive. The condition is that just like with Time Machine, you need to always remember to plug in your external hard drive for backup to take place.
A clone is slightly different from a Time Machine backup. This is because it can be used to boot from. What this means is that you can plug it into another Mac and recover your files directly. Time Machine cannot be used in this manner.
So how do you clone your Mac for backup? The method you use will be slightly different based on the software you are using to back up your Mac. However, you can generally expect the procedure to be something similar to this:
Step 1: Plug in your external hard drive
The first step will be to connect your external hard drive to your Mac device. Make sure that it is connected and appears on your devices list. This is where you will save the clone of your computer’s hard drive.
Step 2: Make sure the external hard drive is properly formatted
At times, if the external drive isn’t properly formatted, it may not appear on your Mac even after you connect it. This may make it hard to backup your data. So you may be required to format or reformat the drive before you can properly use it.
Just like we discussed earlier, this process is simple. Open Disk Utility and select the external drive. Click on erase and choose a format, preferably the MacOS Extended (Journaled) from the format options. Proceed to click on Erase once again. Your external drive will now be ready for use.
Step 3: Open the cloning software
There are some cloning software to choose from as we have already discussed. They include ChronoSync, Carbon Copy Cloner, Carbonite, SuperDuper, and Acronis. These will enable you to create a replica of the files on your computer’s hard drive to the external drive so that if anything goes wrong, you can simply connect the external hard drive to your computer and retrieve the files. Before deciding on which cloning software to choose, have a look at each one of them to see which is the simplest and least-cumbersome to use.
Step 4: Copy the files on your Mac
It’s quite likely that the cloning software will give you an option to copy the files that are on your Mac’s internal storage to the external drive. It’s important for you to pay attention to the files you copy- we recommend copying all the files, for example, because otherwise, the clone might not be bootable. You may be required to enter your password before the copying gets underway.
Step 5: Confirm copy
Once you have entered the password click OK and the cloning process will be underway. You should expect it to take a while so don’t disturb the process otherwise you’ll have to start all over again. Once it’s completed, click OK.
So once this is done, you will have an exact copy of the files on your Mac backed up on your external hard drive. So in case anything goes wrong, you can recover all these files. If you want to restore your Mac from a clone, follow these simple steps:
1. Shut down the Mac you’d like to restore with the clone.
2. Connect your external hard drive that contains the cloned data to your Mac.
3. Turn on your Mac. As soon as the system restarts, press and hold the Command and R keys. This will enter your Mac device into Recovery Mode. Your Mac will load the macOS Utility screen.
4. Select Disk Utility and then proceed to click on the Continue option. After this, select the external hard drive.
5. From the top of the Disk Utility window, click on Restore. This will open up a tab. At the Restore From tab, select your external hard drive.
6. Select your Mac’s hard drive on the Restore to the tab that appears. Proceed to click on Restore. Once the process is complete, restart your Mac.
All in all, creating a clone of your Mac’s hard drive onto an external hard drive is an effective way of backing up your data. Remember to always keep on updating the files that are cloned on your external hard drive so that you accommodate newer files.
Other Ways to Backup Mac
There are also other methods you can use to back up your Mac and prevent loss of sensitive data. Unlike the other methods we have discussed above, these don’t necessarily require you to make use of an external hard drive. But don’t get it twisted. This doesn’t mean that these methods are any less effective. Quite contrary to that, they are also popular methods of backing up your Mac.
In an age of the revolution of the internet, it should come as no surprise that you can actually safely back up your Mac on the internet and still be able to retrieve your data if it gets lost. It doesn’t take much effort and is quite simple to do. So in case you don’t own an external hard drive or don’t have the extra cash to get one, these methods can come in handy.
1. Use iCloud to backup your Mac
Depending on whether or not you pay a monthly subscription to Apple for iCloud storage, then it may be an option to backup your Mac to iCloud. By default, Apple provides 5GB of free storage on iCloud for every Apple ID. There is always an option to buy additional storage space on the cloud by paying a small amount. One of the best things about taking a backup on iCloud is that you can access it from anywhere.
To safely back up your Mac data on iCloud, follow these simple steps and you’ll be good to go.
Step 1: Update your Mac
Before backing up, make sure that your Mac is fully updated. Go to the Apple menu and click on the App Store. Log in using your Apple ID and then click on Updates. Proceed to confirm all the updates.
Step 2: Launch iCloud
On your Mac, go to System Preferences to launch iCloud. This should be easy for you to spot. Proceed to log in using your Apple ID and password to sign in.
Step 3: Choose data files to store on iCloud
After the step above, proceed to pick the data that you want to be backed up to iCloud. Make sure that you check the box beside everything you want to be stored in iCloud.
You can also open the Finder. You’ll see an iCloud Drive folder in the bar on the left of your screen. Click on this to open it. You can then proceed to move any folder on your Mac that isn’t already in iCloud onto the iCloud Drive folder.
After this, you are done backing up to iCloud. All your chosen data will be stored on iCloud. So if anything happens to your Mac and you lose your data, you can always retrieve it.
2. Use Dropbox
If you’d like to back up a few files then Dropbox is a good choice for you. You will be able to access the files from any device and you will have a low cost off-site backup solution. In this day and age, Dropbox is a popular solution for most people so using it is definitely a good idea for you. It’s easy to use and seamless to recover any lost data. You can use Dropbox to back up your Mac. Here’s how:
Step 1: Sign Up
If you don’t have a Dropbox account, sign up and then proceed to download the software. After downloading it, install it onto your Mac.
Step 2: Go to the web interface
Once the software is installed, you will be redirected onto the web interface where you can copy your files to.
Step 3: Upload files
Click on the Upload Files or Upload Folder option on the right. After this, proceed to locate the folder you wish to upload and click on Choose. Wait for a while as the folder uploads.
To upload your files and folders to Dropbox you can also make use of Finder. When you install Dropbox, you will see a Dropbox tab under Favorites in Finder. Just drag and drop anything into this folder and it will automatically be backed up to Dropbox.
All in all, all these methods are effective in backing up your Mac. For this guide, however, we recommend getting a hard drive and making use of the Time Machine feature on your Mac. It’s the best and most reliable way of backing up your Mac so that if anything happens and you lose all your data, you can always retrieve it safely. So why not invest in a worthwhile external hard drive and follow the steps we have outlined in this guide to safely backup your Mac?