Back up your Mac

It’s not often things go wrong, but this information could save your important data and settings should the worst happen.

Time machine: for years the Mac operating system has included Time Machine (TM) as its backup program. Simply format a separate disc OS Extended (Journaled) or use a Time Capsule. Then load TM (System Preferences > Time Machine) and point it at your disc. It dutifully starts the backup and will run incremental backups as files change. There are plenty of ‘How to’ such as the Apple page on line which explain in detail if needed.

TM can soon fill up disc space so it makes sense to buy a reasonably large disc, a WD 1 Tb 2.5″ laptop disc makes a good choice, easily mounted in a caddy with no external power supply required. Don’t bother with SSDs as the interfaces cannot exploit their R/W speed.

If speed is essential and you have the new Thunderbolt USB ports then an SSD or an NVME blade is an option. However, NVMe drives will get hot during sustained high speed R/W transfers with Thunderbolt making a high quality NVMe enclosure with sufficient cooling absolutely essential. A cheap case with poor cooling may result in drive failure or the disk may slow to a crawl to await temperature drop during use.

If you have a QNAP NAS then the OS allows for the installation of a Time Machine target partition so that makes a good choice as you can increase the partition size as desired.

Time machine is very good at what it does, but there are a few limitations:

  1. Your first backup will be large so allow plenty of time to complete as it’s usually several gigabytes of data.
  2. The TM disc needs to be connected to your Mac, if you have a wireless connection this can be overcome in conjunction a Time Capsule as your target TM storage.
  3. It omits the hidden boot partition. Although you might be able to opt for ‘Internet boot’ it’s a really good idea to have a copy of the boot files to recover such as a bootable pen drive with an install copy of your OS.

Another excellent back up solution is Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) This is afirst class utility which can ‘clone’ any selected disc including the boot disc to your designated backup disc. CCC will also clone the hidden boot partition which is something Time Machine does not do. Theres nothing like the additional security of an independant backup, particularly if it’s disconnected from your Mac.

More information on CCC and download of 30 day trial here

Create a bootable USB pen drive of your operating system on an 8 or 16Gb drive. This is really easy with the right tools, exteremly handy if you have to update more than one Mac, but very useful anyway:

  1. First download and install the appropriate version of DiskMaker X for your operating system.
  2. Download the version of OS or OSx in use, if you don’t already have it.
  3. Connect up your pen drive then start up diskmakerX and follow the instructions. Be aware all data on the target pen drive will be erased during the process.

There are plenty of ‘How to’ on line.

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