What is Time Machine on Macs and what is it for?

If you’ve ever had a computer problem and you’ve lost the files on your Mac, you should know that you have the possibility of making backup copies in Time Machine, an application that Apple includes in its computers to make it easier. In this post we tell you how it works and some functions that you can perform.

What is it and how it works?

What is Time Machine on Macs and what is it for

Time Machine is Apple’s built-in solution for backing up macOS . It is a built-in backup app. This means that you will find this tool integrated into the macOS operating system and it becomes a unique option for you to capture exactly what is on your Mac at the moment you make the copy.

It is a free service from Apple that offers to make backup copies, creating a compressed file in which everything on your Mac is found at the very moment you decide to make the copy using this application. It is a very good option if you need to return to a specific moment when you need it. In case you have a computer failure, Time Machine is a very useful tool since it will allow you to recover from files to emails that may have been deleted.

What functions can you do

Time Machine’s features aren’t just limited to backing up, it can also be used when you want to start a new device, or update your Mac after taking it back to factory settings. This second utility is quite important if you don’t want greater evils to arise and also if you don’t want to save yourself having to install all the apps that you had previously installed.

Time Machine App

Create a backup

Before you start backing up, you’re going to need an external hard drive . When connecting the hard drive to the Mac, the operating system itself will offer you the possibility of whether you want to use that external storage to make the copy with Time Machine. In addition, you will also have the possibility of encrypting the copy disk, something that we recommend you do to provide extra security, since with this you will be able to create a password that will help you to recover your files in case you need it. To finish, click on “Use this disk”.

It may be the case that your operating system does not open Time Machine automatically when you connect the external hard drive, so you will have to do it manually. To do this, go to Apple > System Preferences > Time Machine. Then click “select backup disk” to find the external drive in the list, and then click “use disk”. You also have to keep in mind that you can use more than one external storage unit to create your backups.

Time Machine

If you select the “automatic backup” option, Time Machine will automatically back up the last 24 hours . A daily backup of the last thirty days will also be carried out, in addition to a weekly and monthly backup. Of course, as the storage space decreases, the system itself will automatically eliminate the copies that are older. If you don’t want them to be automatic, you can deactivate the option at any time and you also have the option to make a manual backup whenever you want.

One of the reasons why the first backup that Time Machine makes can take a long time is because it has to copy everything from scratch, while the rest of the copies that will be made from this one will only take those documents or files that have been modified with respect to the previous backup, as well as everything new that is there and was not there before. If at any time you want to reduce the size of the backups, in the “options” menu you can choose to exclude certain elements that you have stored in other places from the backup, in the same way that happens with photos and videos in iCloud .

Restore files and folders

Whenever you want to recover a file that you have deleted and that, luckily, is inside the copy that you made in Time Machine, all you have to do is go to the folder where you had said file, open it, go to the menu and select the option that puts “Time Machine”. This opens an interactive menu that allows you to navigate through the different versions of Time Machine that you have saved for that specific folder and you can select the one in which your file is still present. To finish, you will have to click on “restore” and Time Machine will recover the folder or file that you had deleted.

Time Machine ajustes

Obviously, one of the purposes of Time Machine is so that you can completely restore your Apple computer. In that case you should go to the Mac recovery menu by holding down Cmd + R while restarting the computer. After this, in the existing menu, select “Restore from a Time Machine backup” so that, in this way, you can perform a complete restore.

Restore data from hard drive

If you want to restore data directly from the hard drive, you can do so thanks to Time Machine . To do this, you will have to have made a Time Machine backup of your Mac, you can do it thanks to the Migration Assistant, which will help you restore personal files, apps and the rest of the data that is in your user account. To restore the data, you will need to follow these steps:

  • You need to make sure your Time Machine backup drive is turned on and connected to your Mac.
  • Next, open Migration Assistant on your Mac, which you can find in the Utilities folder of the Applications folder. In case your Apple computer starts directly with a setup wizard, and also asks you to indicate the country and network, continue with the next step, since this wizard already has a migration wizard.
  • When asked how you want to transfer the information, select the option to transfer from a Mac, from a Time Machine backup, or from a startup disk. Then click Continue.
  • Then select the Time Machine backup and click Continue.
  • Choose a backup and click Continue.
  • Select the information you want to transfer.
  • Click Continue to start the transfer. Large data transfers may take a long time to complete.

asistente migracion

Aspects to consider

This system is so simple that precisely this simplicity turns against the system in one of its aspects. The only test that Time Machine performs when backing up a file is that the file has been recently modified, and problems can arise when using this method with large files or databases .

Apple is fully aware of the bug and that is why some programs have been modified so as not to be affected, as could be the case with programs such as Mail or iTunes. These programs make use of intelligent libraries that Time Machine can act on and detect internal changes. Keep in mind that when you back up Mail to Time Machine, you don’t back up all mail, just the files we’ve added or changed.