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With online storage services like iCloud or even Google Drive, some people assume that your Mac doesn’t require an external hard drive. However, this is not necessarily the case. It is always a good idea to do more than one type of backup (local backup and remote backup) whenever possible.
If you want to make sure that you are not suffering from the severe pain caused by data loss, we have covered the best way to back up your Mac and keep your data safe.
Make sure your drive is properly formatted
If you want to use an external hard drive or SSD to back up your Mac data, the first thing you should do is format it for the macOS advanced file system. With a few exceptions, most external hard drives are not pre-formatted on Macs. Fortunately, this is a simple process and can teach you a little bit more about your drive as well.
Step 1: Connect your new drive to your Mac.
A new drive is ideal here. If you’re using an older drive, things get more complicated if it already has data on it. Reformatting will erase all old data on the drive. You should therefore review any valuable data and transfer it to another device before proceeding.
Step 2: Launch Disk Utility.
On your Mac menu bar, click Go, then click Utilities. In the window that appears, open Disk Utility.
Step 3: Find the drive that you want to reformat.
All the drives and volumes on your Mac will be listed in Disk Utility. So choose the right one.
Step 4: erase the drive.
In the Disk Utility window, choose Erase, confirm that you want to do this, and then prepare to rename the drive. It is best to call it “Mac Backup” if your primary use of this drive is for backup data.
Step 5: Choose the new map scheme.
You will now be prompted to choose a new format, including Extended (Journaled), Extended (Case Sensitive, Journaled), Extended (Journaled, Encrypted), etc. The Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format uses Journaled HFS Plus to organize all your data.
The Encrypted option adds a password and encryption, while case-sensitive folders are case-sensitive (“September” and “September” remain separate, etc.). Choose the best option for your situation – we recommend the fourth format, which includes all three features, if you are unsure of what to do.
Step 6: Go to Security Options.
Select Security Options and make sure the drive writes past data at least three times (only for hard drives, not for SSDs).
Step 7: Delete and confirm.
Your drive will be reformatted!
Back up large amounts of data through Time Machine
With Time Machine, you can back up your Mac with automated, scheduled backups. If you don’t mind having your external drive connected to your Mac all the time, Time Machine does a lot of the backup process for you. Here’s what you can do to activate it:
Step 1: Open Time Machine and make sure it is turned on.
You can find Time Machine in the system settings, which is in your dock. On the left side of the Time Machine window is a check box labeled “Auto-Back Up”. Check this box to turn on Time Machine.
Step 2: Select your drive.
Under Select Disk, select the drive to back up your data. If you’ve followed the formatting steps in section one, it shouldn’t be a problem, although you may need to enter the password for an encrypted drive.
Step 3: review the options.
Under the Options button, you can select the amount of data you want to back up. This is useful when you don’t want to save all of the data that you keep on macOS. If everything looks appropriate, you’re good to go.
Time Machine automatically begins backing up your data and lets you retrieve previous data from 24 hours ago if something goes wrong – as well as data from every day in the last month and all weekly data since Time Machine started working.
Selectively save data to a drive manually
You may want to back up your Mac with certain files only – a more appropriate solution if you want to save a certain type of media or just want to back up data related to your job, etc.
Step 1: Open Finder.
You can always open a Finder window from the Dock. On the left side of your Finder window, check that your external hard drive is there by name in the sidebar. If your drive is connected and properly formatted, it will usually show up here. If not, click Finder on the menu bar, then click Preferences and select Sidebar. There you can choose what to show in the Finder sidebar. Make sure your drive is set to show up there.
Step 2: create all required folders.
The files you want to back up may already be in the correct folders, which are well organized. In this case you can skip this step. However, if your files are a bit scattered around, you can hit the folder icon in the Finder and create new folders to properly capture your precious data.
Step 3: Move folders to your external drive.
Drag and drop the folders you want to save onto the external drive in your sidebar. They are automatically copied to this hard drive. If you’re looking for a specific file that you want to keep and can’t find it, use the search feature at the top right of the Finder screen to take a closer look at it.
Third party backup solutions
There is another option for backing up your data: third-party backup solutions such as Carbonite or CrashPlan. Both companies offer affordable and easy-to-configure backup services for Mac and Windows. Regardless of which company you choose, you will need to download and install the appropriate backup app after logging in so that you can start the first backup process. All data backed up on Carbonite or CrashPlan is securely hosted on their servers and can be recovered if such a situation occurs.
Another thing worth mentioning is that your first backup will take a while depending on how much you are backing up. It takes so much longer because your internet service provider’s upload speeds are ultimately limiting your computer. It’s not uncommon for the first backup to take several days when you have hundreds of gigabytes (or even terabytes) of data.
However, these services use incremental backup technologies that are similar to the Apple Time Machine once your first backup is complete. This means that they only upload changes that you make in the future so that the backup servers have the most up-to-date versions of everything. Saving small changes instead of large data dumps allows your Mac to back up data without you noticing.
Carbonite prices start at around $ 6 per month and come with 128-bit encryption, automatic cloud backups, remote access to your files, 24-hour support, and an optional external hard drive for physical backups.
CrashPlan starts at around $ 10 per month and offers features like external hard drive protection, desktop app recovery, a dedicated support team, and 256-bit encryption. Note, however, that the $ 10 per month price is per computer. So if you want to back up two computers, you pay $ 20 a month.
Both services offer unlimited storage space for your backups. Try a 30-day free trial.