The complete, easy guide to backing up your Mac You know about Time Machine, but there are other ways to back up your Mac. Here's how to pick the best backup method for you. Even though Mac computers are capable of reading hard drives that are formatted for Windows, if you intend on using your external HDD as a bootable disk or want to use it to backup files with your Mac’s Time Machine, you must format it to be entirely Mac compatible. Best Cloud Backup for Mac in 2020 Find the best cloud backup for your Mac by checking these top-quality options. Best Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) Providers.
To use Time Machine to make a backup of your Mac, you need any of these types of storage devices:
- External drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac) or AirPort Time Capsule
After setting up the storage device, you can use Time Machine to make a backup of your Mac. And after making your backup, you can use Time Machine to restore files from your backup.
External drive connected to your Mac
Time Machine can back up to an external drive connected to a USB, Thunderbolt, or FireWire port on your Mac.
External drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac) or AirPort Time Capsule
Time Machine can back up to an external USB drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac model) or AirPort Time Capsule.
- Make sure that the USB drive is formatted for Time Machine.
- Connect the drive to a USB port on your AirPort base station, then turn it on.
- Open AirPort Utility, then select your base station and click Edit to view its settings.
- Click the Disks tab in the settings window.
- Select your backup disk from the list of partitions, then select ”Enable file sharing”:
- If more than one user on your network will back up to this disk with Time Machine, you can use the Secure Shared Disks pop-up menu to make sure that they can view only their own backups, not yours. Choose ”With accounts” from the menu, then click the Add (+) button to add users.
- Click Update to restart your base station and apply the settings.
AirPort Time Capsule
Time Machine can back up to the built-in hard disk of an AirPort Time Capsule on your network.
Mac shared as a Time Machine backup destination
To use another Mac on your network as a Time Machine backup destination, complete these steps on the other Mac:
- Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing.
- From the list of services on the left, select File Sharing.
- From the list of Shared Folders on the right, Control-click the folder that you want to use for Time Machine backups.
- From the shortcut menu that opens, choose Advanced Options.
- From the Advanced Options dialog, select ”Share as a Time Machine backup destination.”
When setting up Time Machine on your other Mac computers, you should now be able to select the shared folder as a backup disk.
Network-attached storage (NAS) device that supports Time Machine over SMB
Many third-party NAS devices support Time Machine over SMB. For details, check the documentation for your NAS device.
How to format a disk for Time Machine
Time Machine supports all Mac OS Extended (Journaled) formats and Xsan formats. If the disk isn't using the correct format, Time Machine automatically prompts you to erase it when you connect it to your Mac:
If you need to erase the disk manually, use the Disk Utility app to erase using the Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format.
Time Machine can't back up to an iOS device or disk formatted for Windows. And if your disk uses the Master Boot Record (MBR) partition scheme, some of its partitions might not be available for use with Time Machine.
Utility • April 20, 2020
Data storage is very important and with a simple computer problem, you can lose all your data. This is why it is important to back up every piece of data that you are sure you need in the future.
The Time Machine was designed to help you back data on your Mac and has always come pre installed since 2006. While it is a great way to back up your data, many people consider it as old-fashioned and unreliable.
Fortunately, we have so many alternatives today and we would like to share our top eight with you.
Comparing the Time Machine to other Mac backup software
The reason for the comparison is to show you what the alternatives can do that the Time Machine can’t. Of course, you don’t have to take out the Time Machine completely, you can use an alternative as a complement.
The Time Machine automatically backs up files on your computer but it has several flaws and weak points. Examples of such weak points are its inability to work offsite, clone a hard drive, or create bootable backup.
Hence, we have put together this list to help you choose the best alternatives to the Time Machine.
Quick Jump to…
Carbon Copy Cloner vs Time Machine
The question here is, what can the Carbon Copy Cloner do that the Time Machine can’t?
We have already established the fact that the Time Machine is efficient even though it has certain weak points. One such weak point is the inability to create a bootable backup. Carbon Copy Cloner, when compared to the Time Machine on this basis, is a better option.
What exactly does this mean? It means that if you are unlucky to encounter an issue while working on your system, you don’t lose your data. All you need to do is boot into the backup created by the Carbon Copy Cloner and continue your work. When you are less busy, you can spare some minutes to look into what caused the issue of your computer drive.
It is recommended to use an external hard drive alone with the Carbon Copy Cloner. The reason for this is that it gives you the opportunity to boot directly from the external HDD during emergencies. Note that the performance of the bootable backup is directly proportional to the speed of the external HDD.
We should also warn you at this point to avoid using an SD card or thumb drive for backup. The reason is simple and crystal clear, they don’t have enough storage capacity to function as backup devices.
Benefits of the Carbon Copy Cloner
- Support team assistance.
- Perfect for instant use.
- Schedule backups.
- Possesses more features than the Time Machine.
- Guide for easy setup is available.
- Works seamlessly with a good external hard drive.
Pricing: The Carbon Copy Cloner costs $39.99 inclusive of all applicable taxes.
SuperDuper vs Time Machine
Best Backup Software For Mac
Just like the Carbon Copy Cloner, the SuperDuper has a major advantage over the Time Machine. Wondering what it is? The advantage is that it allows you to create a bootable backup, which the Time Machine is incapable of.
A first glance at the SuperDuper and you are not likely to trust it as it comes with a retro design. Remember the OS X 10.3 background? Yes, with the brushed metal color, that’s it!
However, taking a leap beyond this veil to its capabilities, the SuperDuper is an amazing app. It can work on its own as well as act as a complement to the Time Machine.
You can actually create your bootable backup using the same drive dedicated to the Time Machine. This must be good news as you don’t need to spend extra to buy an external HDD. You can also duplicate your backup on another drive, whichever method you choose.
The beauty of the SuperDuper is you can create the backup on a disk partition or even an image file. When you activate the Smart Update feature, SuperDuper automatically checks for updates and copies them to the backup drive.
One of the major advantages of SuperDuper is that it is very quick and very easy to use. The explanations of each process are presented in plain English plus are it is not as expensive as the Carbon Copy Cloner or Backblaze.
Benefits of the SuperDuper
- Very quick and efficient.
- It does not need an external HDD.
- Very affordable.
- Easy to use and understand.
- Presents you with more features than the Time Machine.
- Retro design.
Pricing: The SuperDuper costs $27.95.
ChronoSync vs Time Machine
There is so much to love about ChronoSync by Econ Technologies. Comparing it to the Time Machine shows us its immense benefits at a glance. Just like the first two described above, the ChronoSync allows you to create bootable drives. That’s not all!
It is a versatile app which comes with several amazing features. One such feature is the fact that it allows you to synchronize files across computers or devices. This makes it easy to access files from remote locations, who wouldn’t love that?
What’s more? Restoring lost files is quite stressful using the Time Machine but with the ChronoSync, it’s a piece of cake.
Simply search for the file with the Finder feature, copy it, and paste it in the desired location. Better still, you can simply sync the files to your existing hard drive, it’s that simple.
It is possible to schedule backups to begin at a specific time regularly or each time a specific drive is connected. The app will only backup files that have experienced changes since the last backup took place.
One more thing, this app allows you to copy multiple files at the same time which quickens the process.
Benefits of the ChronoSync
- Creates bootable drives easily.
- Synchronizes computers and devices.
- Finding lost files is very easy and copying them is even easier.
- Very versatile app.
- Copies multiple files at the same time.
- A free trial is available.
- Perfect for remote use.
Pricing: The ChronoSync Express costs $24.99, or included in a Setapp subscription. For more power and flexibility, ChronoSync is available for only $49.99 (USD).
Get Backup Pro (v3) vs Time Machine
Without any iota of doubt, Get Backup Pro is the cheapest or rather most affordable on this list. Don’t mistake its affordability for inferiority as it is laden with several features and an amazing range of backup options.
Why is it seen as an alternative to the Time Machine? First of all, the fact that you have access to several backup types is simply amazing.
The different backup types include compressed and incremental file backups, folder synchronization, and bootable cloned backups.Looking at these, it is clear that this app helps to fix some of the major flaws of the Time Machine. For example, you can create bootable backups on other devices and clone your hard drive. All of these are impossible with the Time Machine.
What better way to describe the Get Backup Pro than saying it is the app that gives you almost everything? You can schedule syncs and backups and it supports network and external drives, including CDs and DVDs. It comes with several backup templates that help you import data from your photos, iTunes, mail, documents, and contacts.
Security has always been a challenge with backing up data but this app fixes this issue. It makes it possible for you to encrypt all backups so that you are assured of additional security.
Using this app is very easy and quick. But what is more amazing is that you can restore files to computers that don’t have the app.
Benefits of the Get Backup Pro
- Easy to use.
- More features than the Time Machine.
- Easy to restore files to remote computers without the app.
- Security encryption for all backups.
- Supports network and external drives.
- Backup templates are available.
Pricing: The Get Backup Pro (v6) costs $19.99, or included in a Setapp subscription.
Mac Backup Guru vs Time Machine
Just like the Get Backup Pro, the Mac Backup Guru comes with multiple options for back types. This is one of the major reasons why it is seen as a worthy alternative to the Time Machine.
Let’s begin with the fact that the Mac Backup Guru fixes the bootable disk challenge faced with the Time Machine. Besides this, it has three distinct backup types which are synchronization, direct cloning, and incremental snapshots.
You can actually create an image of your bootable disk using this app. This means you can either back up specific folders on your hard drive or the whole drive, your choice. What’s more?
You can keep your backup continually in sync with all the changes you make as you work. An alternative is that you can keep all incremental backups that didn’t overwrite the older backups along with the changes. This way, you can always retrieve older versions of the same work if you so desire.
Benefits of the Mac Backup Guru
- Very affordable.
- It comes with three backup types.
- Allows you to take an image of your bootable disk.
- It gives you the luxury of specifying what files or folders to backup.
- Allows you to revisit previously saved work before changes were made.
Pricing: The Mac Backup Guru costs $29.
Acronis True Image 2020 vs Time Machine
The Acronis True Image 2020 is just like the Mac Backup Pro with a feature that solves the Time Machine’s problem. It is the feature that allows you to clone your hard drive’s images. You even have access to online backup even though this comes with a more expensive package.
There is no doubt that this app is very efficient but the problem is that it is costly. It is even costlier than the Carbon Copy Cloner but not expensive as the Backblaze. Looking beyond the cost flaws, this is an app everyone that can afford it should own.
It makes backing up files very easy, especially with the fact that you can create bootable disks. You also have the luxury of sharing your backups with remote systems as long as they have the app. The only challenge with this is that it costs a little more to share the app across multiple computer systems.
Back to the advantages, it is possible to access and make use of the app via the intuitive dashboard. It also comes with an amazing feature known as the ‘Restore’ feature. This feature makes it possible to recover a whole drive very easily.
In addition to this, you have the option of selecting specific files that you want to backup or recover.
Benefits of the Acronis True Image 2020
- Easy to use.
- It can be used across several computer systems.
- Allows you to make an image of your bootable disk.
- Remote usage.
- Gives you the opportunity to choose files to backup.
Pricing: The Acronis True Image costs $49.99.
Backblaze vs Time Machine
Backblaze is one of the top alternatives to the Time Machine for several reasons. It is actually recognized the world over as having several features that make it stand out.
One such feature is the unlimited storage that comes with the streamlined service. This is an amazing feature which means you don’t have to spend extra on expanding your storage.
Like ChronoSync, Backblaze is very easy to set up and use. This backup app also updates itself automatically but if you can’t wait, updating it manually is very easy.
If you are a lover of speed, then this app is a plus as it gives you all the speed you need and more.
While there were several weak spots in previous versions, the current version 1.3.5 features several updates that have fixed the limitations. The interface is cleaner with allowance for increased downloads.
One of the standout features is the fact that it presents you with a single-sign-on Google support. It can work either as an alternative to the Time Machine or as a complement instead.
Benefits of Backblaze
- Unlimited backup.
- GDPR compliant.
- Sharing functionality.
- Simple streamlined experience.
- Decent privacy and security.
- Reasonable prices.
Pricing: The Backblaze offers monthly payments of $6 and yearly payments of $60 for personal use.
SmartBackup vs Time Machine
The first thing to note about SmartBackup is that it is a lightweight app. Despite its lightweight, it helps you backup several items to your external hard drive, unlike the Time Machine.
The process is quite fast since you have the luxury of transferring multiple items simultaneously to a specified destination folder. To avoid cumbering your bootable disk with unnecessary data, SmartBackup only backs up changed files leaving the unchanged ones behind.
One of the major advantages of this app is that backup updates are done very swiftly. Another major standout feature is that you have the luxury of cloning your system or bootable disk.
Best Backup For Macbook Air
SmartBackup allows you to archive changed or deleted files by placing them in a specified folder when backing up. Much later, you can always check through different versions of the same file and pick out the one you need.
With the Spotlight Saved Search feature, you can define the files you intend to backup and what you think isn’t necessary. You can make use of iCal or Automator to preprogram backup operations.
Launching is very easy using the command-line mode which also allows you to include the app in scripts or launched items.
Benefits of SmartBackup
- High performance and rapid deployment.
- Lesser risks.
- Very affordable.
- Highly productive.
- Very efficient.
- Designed for comfort and convenience.
- Minimalist design.
Pricing: The SmartBackup is Free.
What do you need from a Mac backup software?
This is a very important question we need to answer else none of these alternatives is worth mentioning. The simple answer to this is to be able to back up your files properly. No one wants that feeling of insecurity or uncertainty about backup especially when you are working on an important project.
There are several features you should look out for before choosing a backup application. We have put together a list of some of these key features you should watch out for. They include:
Not all the backup apps come with multiple Mac backup types as you have seen above. Your backup app should be able to provide you multiple backup types.
For example, with local backup, you are able to make copies of folders and files on an external HDD. This way, even when you lose the file on your computer, restoring it is very easy.
Disk images or bootable clones help you duplicate your whole hard drive. This allows you to boot from a backup drive when your hard drive has issues.
Finally, cloud backup functions exactly like local backup, only this time, data is stored online. This gives you insurance regardless of what happens to your physical location.
While syncing files is not considered as a true backup, it is a very helpful feature. It is great when you work using multiple devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Synchronizing your documents across all these devices makes it easy to work remotely.
It also means that if one of your devices is damaged, you can continue on another device and work on your data from any location. The only challenge with this is that when a file is deleted in one location, it is lost on all devices.
While reviewing the apps, one of the things we paid attention to was the interface which accounts for how easy it is for the user to navigate the app and also if the aesthetics are pleasing to the eyes. Let’s face it, backups can be time consuming and you don’t want an app that makes it difficult to accomplish.
In the case of SuperDuper, although it is not as colorful as Backblaze, it is still quite easy to navigate. Carbon Copy Cloner is also another app which leverages on its user interface to improve its functionality. At a glance, you can see the features of the app and easily access the preferred solution.
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Ease of data restore
The point of a backup is to make it easy to retrieve data in the case of a loss. When selecting a preferred app, a key consideration should be whether it is easy to retrieve data when the time comes. Do you need to carry out 10 steps or two steps?
You can try experimenting first with the trial versions of an app by backing up certain data, deleting it then try to restore.
Does the app perform a file backup or disk cloning? Some apps on our list can do both while some only perform one of the actions.
Should I use file backup or cloning?
To help you know which one to use, it is important to distinguish between them by way of definition.
File backup means you create an image file used in backing up your data for easy recovery. Disk cloning, on the other hand, moves all the contents of your drive to an HDD. You should understand this better when you know how each of these processes works. File backup carries all the contents of the partition or disk you are backing up. This includes applications, folders, files, and the OS and you can store everything on a separate storage device.
Disk cloning on the other hand copies all the contents of the disk to a new disk which means both disks have the same content. With this, it is clear that disk cloning is only necessary when you need to move to a larger disk drive.
File backup or imaging will ensure that you get back to work faster in all circumstances. This is because it is very similar to creating a zip file, only this time, it is without the zip extension. Basically, file backup compresses the files and stores them away. The only challenge is that if your original drive fails, you need a new drive before you can restore your data.
Looking beyond this, we will always recommend file backup because it provides you more versatility. It is a more economical backup option and it allows you to save different versions of the same files or disk.
Don’t lose your data, backup now
It can be quite cumbersome finding the perfect backup app to serve as an alternative to the Time Machine. We have shown you eight apps in this post as well as criteria to help you choose. Based on all the criteria provided, it is evident that the best alternative app is the Carbon Copy Cloner app.
It has an extremely useful archiving ability and it is very flexible too. Carbon Copy Cloner solves several challenges that are seen as the failures of the Time Machine.
The importance of backing up your Mac data cannot be overemphasized and choosing the right app is even more important.