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Apple computers come with software called Time Machine that can automatically backup your files every hour. When the initial backup is run, your entire computer is backed up including the programs, settings, and all of your files. After the first backup has completed, the software will backup any new or changed files every hour.

These instructions assume you already have a new empty drive to use for backups. If you need a drive, refer to the backup drive buying guide. [View]

Setup Guide for Time Machine

When you begin this process, have the computer turned on and be logged in with all programs closed.

  1. UNBOX — Unbox your new drive. The drive may come with two cables, or perhaps one cable.
  2. CONNECT — Plug one end of the provided cable into the drive. With a new MacBook Pro, the USB ports are the smaller USB C size ports. So, you will want to be using a cable that has the smaller USB C plug at one end. Plug the cable into the MacBook Pro. At this point, the cable should be connecting the computer and the drive.
  3. BACKUP — On the screen of your MacBook Pro there should be a message asking if you would like to use your new drive as a TimeMachine backup drive. Say yes and follow the instructions. 
  4. WAIT — Wait for the necessary period of time to perform the initial backup of your computer. It may take 30 minutes, or an hour, or more depending on the speed of your computer, the speed of the drive, and how much data you have.
  5. CONTINUE — Leave the drive connected for regular ongoing backups. The system will check hourly, and backup any new or changed files.

Removing Your Backup Drive

If you must remove the drive, use the eject feature, or shut down the computer before removing.

To eject, click on the drive icon found on your desktop and then from the File menu of Finder choose Eject (toward the bottom). You can also just click on a drive and press command + E (the command key and the letter e on your keyboard).

If you don’t see your backup drive icon on your desktop, look for it in the Finder list of drives in the left column of Finder.

Periodically Check Your Backups

It is a good idea to periodically check the backup status to see when the last successful backup completed. The software should notify you if there are problems, but it’s possible to overlook a notification.

Whenever you want to see the status of your backups or the progress of a backup you can go to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Time Machine. When viewing the Time Machine settings, consider placing a checkmark next to the box “Show Time Machine in menu bar” so you can more easily get to the backup settings.