Backing up your Macintosh computer does not have to be a pain. Fortunately, the Macintosh operating system is one of the easiest to get a backup for. Whether you use the built in Time Machine or rather go for an external solution it is very easy to get a first initial backup for your Macintosh.

Of course, to make things faster it is always good to know what files you want to backup. That way you can develop a backup strategy that is healthy, long-lasting and protects you from all kinds of data disasters.

In this article we’ll go through the process of how to backup your Mac. This article is supposed to be a quick walk-through what solutions you can use to backup your data on the Mac. Currently, we are working on a complete guide for backing up your files on a Macintosh computer. So stay tuned!

How to Use Time Machine

Time Machine is the built in backup system that comes with your Macintosh computer which was introduced in the “Leopard” release of Mac OS X. So if you’re using a Macintosh below 10.5 you cannot make use of that feature. we highly suggest you update your system if your Mac supports it. 

Setting Up Time Machine

First, go to System Preferences and select Time Machine. What you’ll find there is the initial menu and the status of your Time Machine setup. If you’re just starting out it is most likely turned off.

Start Time Machine from the Preference Pane

Selecting Your Backup Disk

Time Machine allows you to backup on an external hard drive, a Time Capsule or a network attached storage (NAS). It is generally more convenient to backup to a network drive because you can never forget to connect your network drive to your Mac. That way you’ll always keep the most current versions of your files.

Hit the Select Disk button and choose a destination where you want your backup to go. Make sure it is actually on an external drive because a backup on the same hard drive as your operating system does not make much sense.

Also, be sure that you have enough space on that hard drive to fully back up your machine.

Encrypt Your Backup

Before you start backing up your files we highly recommend you encrypt your backups. Just check the Encrypt Backup checkmark and Time Machine is going to prompt you to choose a secure password for your backup encryption.

So even if your external hard drives is compromised, nobody will be able to read your backups without your password. So make sure you choose a secure password of the least 8 to 10 digits.

Choose Which Files to Backup

We recommend you do a full system copy with Time Machine. That will remove the pain to think about what kind of files you want to backup. However, if you have temporary folders that you only used to dump files you may want to exclude those from your backup to save some disk space.

And our case, we have excluded the Downloads folder as all the files within it are not important to us and pretty much replaceable.

Enjoy Peace of Mind

Congratulations! You’re now on your way to your first backup. However, we always advise that one backup is not enough so make sure you continue reading this guide. We will cover more options to add to your backup stack including cloud storage.

Don’t like Time Machine? Try SuperDuper!

If you don’t want to use the built-in Time Machine for your backups or need a little more customization you might want to try a software for the Mac that is called SuperDuper!. The good thing about superduper is that you can create a bootable disk image from your whole operating system.

That will get you a working computer very quickly after a hard drive failure. Also, it is pretty easy to use. Let’s see how.

Copy Your Hard Drive to Another Location

SuperDuper! is pretty self-explanatory. In the first step you can select a hard drive that you want to clone onto another disk that ideally is somewhere externally connected, either via USB or your network. If you like, you can also create a disk image only and store it locally but this is not a recommended solution.

Choose The Files You Want to Backup

SuperDuper! lets you choose which files you like to backup. You can either backup all files or specific user files.

Schedule Your Backup

SuperDuper! comes with some advanced backup scheduling options. You can select the days you want your backup to kick in as well as how frequently and at what time you like to backup your Macintosh.

So, you could set your backup to run when you are at the office and when you come home your backup is already complete.

Hit The Copy Now button

When you hit the Copy Now button SuperDuper! will first erase the data that is on the destination disk and then copy all your files for your backup. Also, SuperDuper! has some interesting advanced backup options that we cannot cover in-depth here in this article.

For example, you can determine what SuperDuper! shall do after a backup completes, for example run a Shell script, or shutdown your computer.

Don’t Stick to One Backup Only

We highly recommend having at least two backups for your files. One backup on-site, on an external hard drive or a NAS, and another one off site, ideally with a cloud storage/online backup service. In this example, we’ll use SOS Online Backup that will allow easy online backup for your files.

Sign Up for SOS Online Backup and Try It for Free

You can test SOS online backup for 14 days with no risk and see if it fits your needs. SOS Online Backup is a very secure and fast online backup solution for your files.

It does not offer unlimited online backup, like Backblaze or Carbonite, but if you’re just starting out this might not be necessary. The standard plan will give you 50GB for your backups.

Setting up SOS Online Backup

Setting up SOS Online Backup is not very difficult to achieve. It will prompt you to choose the files that you want to backup and analyzes your system accordingly.

Online backup services in general do not backup application or system files but rather install all the other files that or non-recoverable in case of a hard drive failure, like photos or videos.

Also SOS Online Backup gives you a great overview of the file types you have scheduled for backup.

Hit The “Start” Button to Start Your Backup

After having chosen your files the only thing you have to do is hitting the Start button and your backup is making its way to the cloud. Depending on the amount of files you have it might take days or even weeks for a full backup to complete.

So don’t be impatient. Online backup, in this case, is going to be your secondary backup, so we assume that you have completed either a Time Machine backup or another local backup already. Normally, SOS Online Backup continuously backs up your files, meaning, whenever a file changes on your computer SOS Online Backup will kick in to transfer your files onto their servers.

However, you can also schedule your backup to your needs, e.g. hourly, daily or monthly backups. That way you can backup when you are at the office or not using your computer at all. 


If you have implemented the described steps then you are a couple of steps ahead of all the other people that do not have a backup. With two backups in place you can rest on your security cushion knowing that your data is safe.

In another article we will cover how to restore your files in case of a data loss. So stay tuned! Share your experience! What is your backup strategy with Time Machine or other backup solutions? Which online backup service to use and recommend? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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2 thoughts on “How to Backup Your Mac in 2020”

  1. Time machine is a great tool but, due to its limited features we must opt some third party backup utilities like Superduper, StellarDriveClone.Chorosync etc. Taking regular backup is crucial so that our data remain insulated from loss.

    1. - CEO & Co-Founder


      Yes, you’re right Time Machine is somewhat limited, though for beginners very easy to use. I have used SuperDuper and it works very well. So if you’re looking for more customization I’d definitely recommend that.

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