How to Backup and Restore Your Mac without Using Any Apps

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We saw some powerful backup solutions for Mac computers. They will automatically backup your system at a scheduled time or intervals and save it locally or in the cloud.

Now we are going to tell you how to backup and restore the Mac without using any third party tools.

Apple provides a free backup solution for Mac computers. It is called Time Machine. The feature comes with every Mac installation as default.

Time Machine is easy to use and automatically backs up all your files to an external hard disk you choose. It allows you to restore the whole system or specific file versions when needed.

backup mac

Image Credit: Apple

Time Machine backs up every change on your Mac. It will take hourly backups of past 24 hours, daily backup for the past month and weekly backups for all previous months. It will also take local snapshots of your daily and weekly sessions.

Time Machine lets you revert changes made to the images and documents easily. It saves each file change as separate versions, so you can quickly identify and restore them. The oldest backups are deleted when your storage becomes full.

What you need to use Time Machine backup feature

  • External hard drive connected to your Mac or
  • Time Capsule or MacOS server on your network or
  • External hard drive connected to your network

How to setup Time Machine on your Mac

backup mac

Connect your destination drive to the Mac first. A dialog box will open, with the question ‘Do you want to use [drive] to backup with Time Machine?’. Click “Use as Backup Disk.” To protect your backup files with password, check Encrypt Backup Disk option.

If you’re not getting any alerts to connect your disk and Time Machine, follow these steps.

  • Click Time Machine icon Time Machine icon in the menu bar and open Time Machine preferences. Alternatively, you can go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Time Machine to open the settings.
  • Choose Backup Disk, select a disk from the list and then click Use Disk.
  • Repeat the steps to add another disk for backup.

After you have finished the settings, Time Machine will start backup your system automatically on every hour, day and week.

Open Time Machine, choose Backup now to immediately backup the files.

Open Time Machine Preferences, deselect Backup Automatically or turn off Time Machine to disable the automatic backup. You can still manually backup the files using Backup Now option.

How to check your backup status

Check the Time Machine icon in the menu bar.

In progess indicates Machine is currently backing up your files

Idle backup is finished successfully and Time Machine is currently in idle status

Can't backupCan't back up unable to complete the backup

Restore a backup from Time Machine

  • Open Time Machine menu and choose Enter Time Machine option
  • Now you can see the files and local snapshots in the backup along with the file type and modification date
  • Select a file and press space bar to preview the file
  • Click Restore to restore the selected file

You can restore the entire system from Time Machine backup, via MacOS Recovery.


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