Selecting a backup destination

Time Machine backs up to a drive every hour or whenever the drive is present. Most backup drives attach to the computer directly with a USB cable. If you have more than one Mac, your computer might back up to a shared backup drive on a Time Capsule, Apple server or AirPort Extreme. If you’re connecting a hard drive for the first time, format it for Macintosh first.

Selecting a backup drive

Before you begin, attach the drive to your computer. Or if you back up to the network, connect your Mac to the wireless or wired network.

  1. Click the Time Machine menu in the upper right corner of the screen and Open Time Machine Preferences.
  2. Click Select Disk.
  3. Current backup disks show at the top. To stop backing up to one, select it.
  4. Other available drives are shown below. To start backing up to one, select it.
  5. Click Use Disk or Remove Disk. You can add a disk to your backup rotation or replace one of your existing backup drives.
  6. The rest of the steps are optional. Click Options.
  7. Everything on your Mac is backed up unless it’s in the Exclude list. Click the + button to add an item you don’t want backed up, or drag it from the Finder to this window. If an item is listed here and you want it to back up, select it and click the – button.
  8. Click Save and close System Preferences.



Backing up to a drive shared by another Mac

If another Mac on your network is sharing a backup drive and it’s not configured as an OS X Server, you’ll need to mount the drive before you can select it for backups.

  1. Be sure the Mac hosting the backup drive is turned on, awake, and is set to share the drive on the network. (We can help.)
  2. On a computer you want to back up, click the Finder. Then click the Go menu and choose Network.
  3. Select the computer that’s hosting the drive and click Connect. You may be asked for a username and password.
  4. Double-click the backup drive.
  5. Click the Time Machine menu in the upper-right corner of the screen and Open Time Machine Preferences.
  6. Click Select Disk.
  7. Select the backup drive and close System Preferences.

Learn more about Time Machine.

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