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Apple Time Machine 101

 

Formatting a drive to be used with Time Machine:

 macOS requires that a drive be formatted with a specific file system to be used with Time Machine

  • For Big Sur and later use Apple File System (APFS) when setting up a new backup
  • For macOS versions for 10.6 (Snow Leopard) to 10.15 (Catalina) use Mac OS Extended (Journaled) also referred to as HFS+ when setting up a new backup

Use this link for instructions on formatting your drive

 

Setting up the external drive to be used with Time Machine:

For macOS 13 (Ventura) and later

  1. Open System Settings
    To open System Settings - Click on the Apple icon > System Settings
  2. Click General
  3. Open Time Machine
  4. Click Add Backup Disk. A window opens showing External Storage Drives connected to your Mac
  5. Click Set Up Disk
  6. If encrypting the drive, enter the password. If not, toggle Encrypt Backup off
  7. Click Done, the backup will start in 60 seconds

For macOS 12 (Monterey) and earlier

  1. Open System Preferences
    To open System Preferences - Click on the Apple icon > System Preferences
  2. Open Time Machine
  3. Click on the Select Disk button. A window opens showing External Storage Drives connected to your Mac
  4. Select a drive and click on the Use Disk button. At this point the Backup Disk is selected and the next Time Machine Backup will start in 120 Seconds (2 Minutes)

 

Excluding items from Time Machine backup plan (Options): 

For macOS 13 (Ventura) and later

  1. Open System Settings
    To open System Settings - Click on the Apple icon > System Settings
  2. Click General
  3. Open Time Machine
  4. Click on the Options button. An options window opens
  5. Click on the + button to change what is excluded by Time machine.
  6. Select files/folders and click on the Exclude button. 
  7. Click on the Done button to finish. At this point Time Machine prepares the drive and backs up selected data.

For macOS 12 (Monterey) and earlier

  1. Open System Preferences.
    To open System Preferences - Click on the Apple icon > System Preferences
  2. Open Time Machine.
  3. Click on the Options button. An options window opens
  4. Click on the + button to change what is excluded by Time machine.
  5. Select files/folders and click on the Exclude button. At this point the folder size Calculations and Adjustments are made.
  6. Click on the Done button to finish. At this point Time Machine prepares the drive and backs up selected data.

 

Restoring data from Time Machine backup: 

  1. Open Finder - Applications - Time Machine.
  2. Time machine opens. You can navigate Time Machine through the following:
    • The Graphical Timeline to the right of the Time Machine window
    • The Up/Down Arrows
    Browse to, and select files/folders you wish to restore.
  3. Click on the Restore button. Address any prompts that appear on the screen (grant Administrative access, etc.)