Walkthrough: Setting Up Time Machine On Your Mac

by Ross McKillop on November 15, 2007

Mac

This tutorial will take you step by step through using the new Time Machine feature of OS X 10.5, Leopard.

External hard drives are continuing to drop in price. There’s really no reason not to have one. Or two. The comfort of knowing that all of your files are being continually backed up – automatically – is well worth the cost. With the inclusion of Time Machine to Leopard, I no longer have to use Mozy as my backup solution (but I do, because having two backups is better than one). Anyway – here are the step by step instructions to setting up and using Time Machine.

  1. Start by clicking the Time Machine icon from your dock (or Applications list)
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  3. Since this is the first time Time Machine is being opened, you’ll be prompted to set it up. Click the Set Up Time Machine button to continue.
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  5. Make sure that the Time Machine ‘slider’ is set to ON, and then click the Choose Backup Disk… button.
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  7. Select the drive you want to use to store your backups, then click the Use for Backup button.
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  9. Now click the Options… button.
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  11. From here you can add files and/or folders not to back up. By default, the drive you selected to store backups on, will be listed – because Time Machine doesn’t need to be backing up your backups. If you can think of an additional folder that you don’t want to bother backing up, click the small + (plus sign) button.
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  13. Navigate to that folder, select it, and click the Exclude button. In the example screenshot below I opted not to back up my Movies folder.
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  15. And now the folder you selected will appear in the Do not back up: list. Repeat the above two steps to add additional files and folders you don’t want to back up. When you’re finished, click Done.
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  17. Check the Next Backup: time. That’s when Time Machine will run itself and back up your entire drive for the first time. You may want to consider not doing too many resource intensive tasks during the first backup and just let it finish (I discovered the difficult way that a crash during the first backup makes getting Time Machine to work again is a bit of a chore).
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  19. Depending on how large your hard drive is, how many files you have on it etc, it can take a few minutes for the first backup to prepare.
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  21. But it’ll start eventually.
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  23. And it’ll finish eventually too. Once it’s done, click the Time Machine icon in your dock again. This time the Time Machine itself will open.
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  25. After a couple of backups occur (which Time Machine does completely automatically from now on) you’ll be able to scroll through the different backup sets.
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  27. Congratulations – your data is that much safer now :)