How to Back Up an iMac

By Ed Oswald

Backing up your iMac is very easy thanks to the tools built into the Mac OS X operating system. As long as you have an external hard drive that can be dedicated to backups, the process can be started manually and from then on will work automatically according to your preferences.

Things You'll Need

  • Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
  • External hard drive or Apple Time Capsule

Step 1

Click the "Apple" and then "System Preferences." Look for the "Time Machine" icon and click it.

Step 2

Ensure that the external hard drive is clear of any data. Time Machine will have to format the external hard drive to Apple's journal format, and the drive will not be usable for Windows computers. If you're using Time Capsule, simply power the unit on.

Step 3

Return the Time Machine settings page you opened in Step 1 and click the switch to turn Time Machine on. This will automatically bring up a window with available backup locations. Select your desired storage medium and click "Use for Backup." If using a Time Capsule, just click "Set Up Time Capsule."

Step 4

Click "Options" to choose what portions of your hard drive you would like to backup. Once you are finished, click "Done." If you want your entire hard disk to be backed up, you can skip this step.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use your selected backup location only for Time Machine backups. This could interfere with backups of your hard disk. Files on your backup disk are not backed up, and will reduce space for backup events.
  • The initial backup will likely take much longer than subsequent backups. Allow extra time for this, or start the first backup overnight.
  • Ensure that everything is working properly. After the initial backup, each following backup will occur at hourly intervals.
  • If your backup location isn't available for a scheduled backup, or the computer is in sleep mode, Time Machine will not launch and the backup will not occur.

References & Resources