Time Machine on OS X: Setup and Use

No data is insured against data loss. All users understand this, and everyone is trying to find their own way to save important files that cannot be lost. Apple has been extending a helping hand to users since 2006. This is, you guessed it, the Time Machine . A simple and truly elegant solution for backing up data from your computer running OS X. A key feature of Time Machine is that it really works and saved many users from data loss, especially during times of hard drives when media failures are not visible on That reason was practically the norm.

Time Machine is built into Apple’s operating systems, starting with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard . The program creates a copy of the entire drive of your computer, but at the same time supports the recovery of individual files, is fully automated and has flexible settings. With all the stages of setting up and running Time Machine for a specific computer running OS X Mavericks, we will become familiar with this article.

To begin, let’s talk about what we need to start working with Time Machine. And you need a computer running Mac OS X 10.5 or higher, preferably with all possible updates installed, as well as an external hard drive. It can be an external HDD, connected via USB, Thunderbolt or FireWire, a network drive (Ethernet or Wi-Fi), AirPort Time Capsule, or other similar Apple devices. There is nothing special to comment here. In any case, it is better to use a drive with high connection and work speeds – this will allow Time Machine to run faster and more inconspicuously.

Now about the requirements for free disk space. During the creation of the first backup copy, Time Machine will take up as much space on the external drive as is occupied on the user’s computer. For example, you have a MacBook Air with a 128 GB SSD, but only 70 GB are used. So the first backup will take exactly 70 GB. But since Time Machine stores several versions of files and several snapshots of the system, it is desirable to take the places all the same not back to back, but with a margin. Best of all, the volume of the drive or logical partition for storing backup copies is 2 times larger than the amount of non-volatile memory of your computer.

In general, Time Machine will save the following backup data:

– Hourly copies in the last 24 hours;

– Daily copies for the last month;

– Weekly copies for all previous months.

You need to understand this in the most direct way. If you take a 2 TB drive under Time Machine, then the backup system will eat it without any constraint. However, do we need copies of six months or a year ago? Probably not. Therefore, having limited the space for Time Machine to two volumes of computer storage, we will force the program to delete the backup copies that have lost their relevance when the free space runs out.

At this introductory part can be considered complete. We proceed to the initial setup and clarification of some subtleties that await the user who wishes to create backup copies of their data.

– Go to the System Settings – Time Machine. Click the button “Options …”;

– In the menu that appears, you can add files and folders that should be excluded from backup. These can be TV shows, movies, music, and other data that are easy to recover and have no value for you;

– At the bottom there are two options. The first allows the creation of backups when powered by battery, and the second is for informational purposes only. We decide whether this is necessary, and then click “Save”;

– In the Time Machine settings, click “Select backup disk …”;

– From the listed list of available drives, including the connected wires and network, choose the one to which the backup will be made. If necessary, you can activate the backup encryption option (using File Vault 2). This will have little effect on performance. Click “Use Disk”;

– The system automatically activates Time Machine and the timer will notify how much time is left before the first backup. Please note that it will take a lot of time, because absolutely all the data included in the backup is copied.

Now a few details. By default, if encryption is turned off, the files in the backup are not protected at all and can be accessed by anyone who has access to the drive. If encryption is activated, you will need to set a password that will protect the backup. Better, of course, choose the second option. In this case, the entire partition with a backup on an external drive will be encrypted.

It should be noted that the backup process cannot be interrupted only for the first time, otherwise the whole process will start over. In other cases, the process interruption will not affect anything.

Now about the process of restoring files from backup:

– Run the Time Machine application from Launchpad;

– You will be shown all changes registered on the external drive. Dates will be located on the right side of the screen, and you can switch between windows containing different versions of files in the center;

– Having decided on the objects necessary for restoration, click “Restore” in the lower right corner.

With Time Machine, it is also convenient to move from one poppy to another. When setting up a new system, simply select the restore option from the Time Machine backup in the Migration Assistant.

Also, Time Machine can be used in manual mode and create backup copies only when necessary. To do this, activate the Time Machine tray icon, then click on it and select “Create backup now.” This way you can avoid automatic backups by turning it off in the Time Machine settings.


Time Machine may not be the most advanced backup tool, but it already exists by default on every Mac, quite simple to set up and use. In other words, Time Machine is ideal for the needs of the average user who values ​​his data.

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