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Backing up MacBook Data With Time Machine and iCloud

Backing up MacBook Data With Time Machine and iCloud

While MacBooks are not that prone to potential cybersecurity threats that wipe data, you should still get in the habit of backing up your files. 

After all, it is difficult to tell when something might happen to the computer’s hardware. If the hard drive malfunctions, you may not have the option to restore important files. And even if macOS is quite secure from malware and viruses, there is still a chance that these threats will end up on the laptop and start deleting files when you least expect it.

Instead of risking your data getting wiped, you should create backups using Time Machine or iCloud. And in addition to making copies of important files, you could also transfer some of them to another location and free up the MacBook drive space, which is recommended to improve the overall performance.

Let’s take a closer look at how to use Time Machine and iCloud. 

Creating Backups With Time Machine

You can back up pretty much any MacBook file using Time Machine. And once you set the tool up, you can also enable the feature to create hourly, daily, or weekly backups. Moreover, Time Machine old backups once there is not enough free storage in the hard drive.

Speaking of which, you will need an external device to combine with Time Machine. A hard drive is usually the choice. 

To start the backup, plug in the external HDD to the MacBook and confirm the pop-up that will ask whether you want to launch Time Machine. 

Next, click on the Apple icon at the top-left of the laptop’s screen and select System Preferences. Find the Time Machine icon in the System Preferences tab and launch it. While in the Time Machine UI, click the “Select Backup Disk” in the middle and pick the drive you will use to back up data. 

Lastly, check the box next to the “Back Up Automatically” on the left. Doing so will initiate the backup process.

Advanced Options

The first backup will take some time, particularly if there are many files on the MacBook. However, the future backups will require less time because Time Machine only needs to back up new files rather than processing old data again.

As you have probably guessed, the default backup option copies virtually every MacBook file. If you want to exclude certain files or folders, you can do so by clicking on the Options tab in the Time Machine UI.

From there, a pop-up with the backups list will appear. Below, you will see a “+” button. Click on it and navigate through your Mac’s folders and select which files you want to exclude from backups. Once you finish adding files in the exclusion tab, click the “Save” button. The excluded files will not appear in future backups.

Creating Backups With iCloud

While Time Machine is a solid option to back up MacBook data, you could take a different approach and use iCloud instead. Apple provides five gigabytes of free storage with an option to extend it. A monthly fee of 10 dollars offers as much as two terabytes of total cloud storage. 

A monthly fee may be off-putting, but there is hardly a safer location than iCloud to keep your files at. Besides, by transferring data to your iCloud account, you will have access to files on not just the MacBook but also your iPhone or iPad if you have those. Syncing an iCloud account with another Apple device and creating a mini-ecosystem is quite simple.

Now, as for backing up the data, the process is quite simple. You do not need to launch and navigate through complicated user interfaces on an app or anything like that.

No, all it takes is opening your iCloud account and dragging files directly from the MacBook into iCloud. 

Of course, you need to make sure that there is enough free space left on iCloud. Like already mentioned, 10 dollars per month gets you two terabytes of total storage, but you could also subscribe to a different plan. 

Apple also offers 50 gigabytes for a dollar a month and 200 gigabytes for three dollars a month, which is a significant amount of cloud storage.

Final thoughts

You may be wondering which of the two methods is superior. The basic iCloud storage plan may be too little, and paying a monthly fee would be a long-term investment. On the other hand, not having to bother with an external hard drive is also an advantage and would make things simpler.

Both Time Machine and iCloud have their pros and cons. Pick a method you feel suits your needs the best. Or, as an alternative, you could use both Time Machine and iCloud and have two different backups for even greater peace of mind.

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