How to Backup iPhone on Mac

This article describes how to back up files on a Mac.

Time Machine, the Mac’s built-in backup tool, automatically backs up all of your files, including programs, music, photos, email messages, documents, and system files. Files can be restored from a backup if they are deleted from the Mac or if its hard drive (solid state drive) is cleaned or replaced.

Backing up Time Machine

To back up using Time Machine, you only need an external drive. After you connect the drive and select it as a backup disk, Time Machine will automatically perform hourly backups for the last 24 hours, daily backups for the last month, and weekly backups for all past months. The oldest backups are deleted as the disk becomes full.

Connect an external drive

Connect one of the following external drives, which are sold separately. Learn more about backup disks that you can use with Time Machine.

  • An external drive connected to a Mac, such as a USB drive, Thunderbolt, or FireWire
  • External drive connected to an AirPort Extreme (802.11ac) base station or AirPort Time Capsule
  • AirPort Time Capsule
  • Shared Mac Computer as a Time Machine Backup Repository
  • Network Attached Storage Device (NAS) that supports Time Machine via SMB
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Choosing a drive as a backup disk

When you connect the external drive to your Mac, you may be prompted to use it to back up using Time Machine. Select the option “Encrypt backup disk” (recommended), and then “Use”.

An encrypted backup is available only to users who know the password. Learn more about disk backup protection.

How to Backup iPhone on Mac

If Time Machine does not ask for permission to use the drive, follow these steps to manually add it.

  1. Open Time Machine settings in the Time Machine menu from the menu bar. Or go to the Apple menu () System Preferences and click the Time Machine icon.
  2. Click the “Select a backup disk” button (or “Select a disk” or “Add or remove a backup disk”).
  3. In the list of available drives, select the external drive. Then select the option “Encrypt copies” (recommended) and click the “Use disk” button.

If the selected disk is not formatted properly for Time Machine, you will first be asked to erase the data from it. To continue, click the Erase button. In this case, all information will be deleted from the backup disk.

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Benefits of Auto Backup

After you select a backup drive, Time Machine will periodically back up. This is done automatically and does not require any further action from you. Depending on the number of files, the first backup may take a long time, but you can continue to use your Mac in the process. Time Machine backs up only those files that have been modified since the last backup, so subsequent sessions will take less time.

To start a manual backup, select the option “Back up now” on the Time Machine menu from the menu bar. In the same menu, you can view the status of the backup or stop the current backup.

Additional Information

  • Restore data on a Mac from a backup
  • Other ways to backup and restore files
  • If you back up to multiple disks, you can switch disks before entering Time Machine. Press and hold the Option key, select the option “View other backup disks” in the Time Machine menu.
  • To exclude an object from backup, open the section with Time Machine settings, click the “Options” button, and then click “Add” () to add the desired object. To stop the exclusion of an object, such as an external hard drive, select it and click the Delete button (-).
  • If you use Time Machine to create backups on a network drive, you can check them to make sure they are in good condition. Pressing and holding the Option key, select the option “Check backups” in the Time Machine menu.
  • In OS X Lion 10.7.3 or later, you can boot the system from the Time Machine disk if necessary. Press and hold the Option key while the Mac starts up. When the Boot Manager screen appears, select EFI Boot as the boot disk.
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