When you decide to back up your Mac, it is important to choose the right way to do it. While using Time Machine is a great option, it sometimes helps to consider all of your options.
For example, if you are looking to replace your MacBook hard drive, consider creating a disk image of your hard drive and storing it on an external drive. You can do this using Disk Utility.
Creating a backup of your Mac will allow you to make an exact copy of your current hard drive and restore all information when you install a new drive. Having a backup copy of your startup disk also eliminates the risk of losing data while performing system updates.
Get ready to back up your Mac
Before you start backing up your Mac, you need to keep a few things in mind.
- Disk Utility is free and included with macOS. You can find it inside Applications > Utility.
- Before starting your Mac backup, make sure you have an internal or external hard drive ready. It must be large enough to store the data you have on your current startup disk and have nothing you want to keep on it. The backup process will erase the receiving unit.
- The destination drive must also be formatted correctly. Especially if you’re using an external hard drive or external SSD to back up your data, as most of them aren’t preformatted for Macs.
- Check the target drive for errors before starting the process.
- Finally, the whole process will take anywhere from half an hour to several hours, depending on what data you are backing up. So make sure your computer is plugged in and you won’t have to use it for the next two hours.
Check the target drive using the disk utility
If the destination drive has errors, it may cause problems with the backup and you will not have a reliable copy of the boot drive.
We recommend that you use Disk Utility to check the destination drive before starting the backup process. To do this, follow these steps:
- To open Disk utility.
- From the list of devices, select the target drive.
- Click First aid at the top of the app. So choose Run.
This will start the verification process which shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
If Disk Utility shows verification errors, you will need to repair the disk before proceeding. To do this, click First aid back into Disk Utility to repair the disk. If you finally get a confirmation message, you’re good to go.
Conversely, if there are still errors listed after repairing the disk, you will have to repeat the whole process until the disk is completely repaired and you will see the Disk Utility confirmation message.
Start the Mac backup process
Now that the destination drive is ready, you can begin the cloning process and create a copy of your startup disk. To do this, follow these steps:
- In Disk Utility, select your startup disk.
To fix this, open the file Visualization menu in Disk Utility and choose Show all devices. You will then see a different file structure. To create an image of your internal disk, you will need to choose it in “Internal” and then repeat the File> New Image> Image From process “name of your disk”.
- Before starting the backup, you can change its name. If you are using that disk for backup purposes only, we recommend that you choose something like Mac Backup to help you remember it in the future.
- Select the destination drive.
- For general use, choose the default options: “compressed” under Format And “nobody” under Encryption.
- Click Save. This will start the backup.
Disk Utility will take some time to backup your Mac depending on how much data you have on your startup disk. When finished, Disk Utility will notify you. Then you will have a complete copy of your hard drive that you can use to restore your data later.
Use Boot Manager to check your copy
An additional precaution you can take is to check the backup to see if it works as a startup disk. When your Mac is finished backing up, you will need to restart your computer and see if it can boot from the backup copy. You can do this using the Mac’s Boot Manager.
- Close all applications.
- Click the Apple menu and choose Restart.
- When the screen goes black, press and hold the key Option until the screen turns gray and the bootable hard drive icons appear.
- Choose the backup copy you just created.
Your Mac will now boot from the backup you just made. To get back to your startup disk, you’ll need to restart your computer one more time.
If you don’t want to lose your data, backing up your Mac should become a habit for you. If you can’t remember when was the last time you made a copy of your files, it’s sure it’s time to do it again.
There are many different ways to back up iOS and macOS devices. You can choose the one that best suits your needs or, even better, use different methods for different types of data. In addition to Disk Utility, try using iCloud to back up your photos and Time Machine to create larger file copies.