Whether you’re working on a homework assignment, your next big pitch for a meeting, or just organizing your photos, keeping your data safe and backing up your Mac regularly is a great habit to keep. If you’re looking to learn how to back up your Macbook and learn more about disk utility, you’ve come to the right place!
We’ll be covering all you need to know about how to optimize your Macbook’s storage capabilities, why you should back your Mac in the first place, and wrap it all up with some of the frequently asked questions we receive about Macbooks and other laptops.
Let’s not waste any time and hop right into it!
Why Should You Back Up Your Mac?
Losing all your files ranks as one of the worst feelings in the world, especially if it’s a project you’ve been working on for a long time. Don’t make the mistake of losing your thesis paper a week before your deadline or the family photos from your childhood vacation, and ensure that your data is kept safely and securely.
There are many different ways that your Macbook can lose data, and you may have already lost some without even knowing! Major updates, malware, a broken battery, or a misplaced drink spilled onto your Macbook or touchscreen laptop can all lead you to have a laptop with unusable system log files.
Here’s How to Back Up Your Macbook
We’ve outlined 4 easy ways to back up your Mac, written in an intuitive step-by-step guide. You don’t have to know anything about coding or computer development to know the best ways to back up your Macbook.
Disconnect any distractions like your PS4 and let’s dive right into it!
Use your iCloud Drive
Cloud storage space has revolutionized how we store data, eliminating the need to store your most important files solely on your Macbook. You can set your iCloud to sync certain files and store a copy on your iCloud, with weekly backups or even hourly backups available for those who don’t want to lose their data.
Once your backup files are synced to the iCloud drive, you can access them from any Apple device as long as you know your iCloud details – so if your Macbook breaks you can access your files from your phone. This is a life-saving feature, especially if you’re using your device for business or an important project, like photo editing.
The only downside of using iCloud is the fees associated with it. There’s a monthly subscription that you need to pay to Apple, which varies depending on the storage size you need.
Syncing your Macbook to your iCloud
Want to sync your important files to your iCloud from your Macbook – here’s how you do it:
- Navigate to your Macbook’s System Preferences. Click on the iCloud options.
- You’ll be prompted to sign into your account if you aren’t already signed in, start by clicking the options button on the iCloud row.
- You can then begin assigning which of your files you want to be synced up to iCloud.
Backing up your Mac to your iCloud
Backing up your Mac will require more legwork from you than automatically syncing to your iCloud, but if you want to store other files on your Macbook then this is highly recommended. Here’s how to back up a Mac to your iCloud:
- Open your Finder and navigate to the iCloud tab on the left. This should open all the files you currently have stored on your iCloud.
- From there, it’s as simple as dragging all the files you want to store over and into iCloud. Just keep an eye on how large your files are as the iCloud storage is limited based on the plan you’ve set up.
iCloud is the first line of defense when it comes to protecting your Macbook from data loss. But we recommend diversifying, as a single local backup isn’t enough. Aim to complete about one or two of the other methods we’re about to mention.
Try out Time Machine
Along with the iCloud storage system, Apple has its backup software known as Time Machine. Using Time Machine is exceptionally easy, but you will need to have an extra external storage device on hand to do so.
When your Macbook is connected to an external storage device using Time Machine, it will make versioned backups of your Macbook. You just need to remember to make it part of your routine to consistently connect your Macbook to Time Machine backup.
Here’s how you back your Mac With Time Machine
Here are the necessary steps to hook up your Macbook to Time Machine and make a backup of your device.
- Before we begin, ensure that your Macbook is connected to an external hard drive or SSD, which should be confirmed by your Macbook with a notification. It will ask if you want to use your hard drive with Time Machine.
- Click select Backup Disk.
- From there, you can make a new backup with the Time Machine of your Macbook.
Back-Up your Mac using More Cloud Back-Ups
There are more options than just the iCloud and Time Machine backups for the files on your Mac, which offers users some variety on how they want to keep their files safe. We’re of course talking about cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and One Drive. These are all great alternatives and are welcomed if you don’t want to pay the fees that are demanded by iCloud.
We recommend keeping extra copies of your saved files over multiple platforms, not just your iCloud syncs. Doing this is simple and easy, and will save your files if anything were to happen to the singular location you use as backup software. We won’t be going over the processes of how to store your files on Dropbox, Google Drive, and One Drive but rest assured that it’s as simple as dragging your files to the relevant application!
Some of these applications don’t innately come with a new Mac but with Windows computers instead like the Alienware Aurora. However, they are simple to download online at your convenience.
Use an Off-Site Storage Device
We’ll now look at alternatives for Time Machine – more specifically storage backups for your Mac backup that are somewhere in between storing a few of your files, but not all the files on your Mac.
There are plenty to choose from but here are our top suggestions:
Although the initial process of creating your backup Mac may take longer, you’ll always have a trusty version of your Macbook to restore to from a disk image. Backing up your Mac to an external storage device is an additional way to keep your data safe in the worst-case scenario.
Frequently Asked Question
While you’re backing up your Macbook, you may have had some questions pop up regarding how to back up a Macbook and other similar devices. Lucky for you, we’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions about how to backup your Mac and more!
If you’re all clued up though, feel free to check out our other articles like how to monitor your GPU’s temperature or how to remove stickers from your laptop.
How do I back up my entire Mac?
Time Machine is one of the best ways to back up your Mac, but you’ll need to purchase an external storage device to do so. Once your Macbook is connected to your storage device, you can easily use Time Machine to back up your Mac files to an external drive.
We highly recommend that you repeat this process in a series of weekly backups, or possibly even more frequently depending on how much storage you need to back up.
How to back up Macbook without Time Machine?
Great question! Although Time Machine is one of the best ways to back up your Mac to an external disk, there are quite a few different ways to back up your MacOS operating system and files using third-party software. Here are our top suggestions:
- EaseUS Todo Backup Solution
Backing up your Apple devices isn’t only a great way to keep your documents, but also frees up storage space. Apple products like the iPhone and iPad can struggle to function when their storage is filled, so ensure you back up your Mac regularly.
How do I know if my Mac is backed up to iCloud?
Want to double-check that your Macbook is backed up? Here’s how you can take a look at your iCloud and see if the select files you want have been backed up:
- Open your Apple Menu, through the Viewer and navigate to the left tab of the screen to find the iCloud icon.
- Click it open, and see if the iCloud has the latest files you’ve synced up from the last save time. If the file or files you’re looking for aren’t there, then it’s likely that may need to change your system settings to sync up properly.
Ensuring that your Mac computer is being synced properly is vital to keeping the backup process of your files smooth and consistent.
And that’s about it! We’ve covered a lot about how you can not only sync your files to be backed up regularly but also some additional ways to manually back up and restore your Macbook. Don’t ever have to worry about your files going missing, lost because of a rogue coffee, or any other mishap that life may throw at your previous data!
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Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.