How to Backup Your Mac

Posted on July 17, 2020 - by Kyle Hankins - in Building Your InfoSec Program

A guide on backing up your computer files on an external hard drive

Backing up the data on your hard drive is essential in case of a security incident. The definition of an incident can vary depending on your company’s Incident Response Plan. 

For example, your computer crashing consistently can impede your ability to work and can qualify as criteria for activating an Incident Response Plan in your company policy.

To take it further, the loss of critical company data due to a computer failure is considered an “incident” but can also activate your company’s Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan policies. These policies can lead to a long list of check-ins and meetings with executive-level employees (as an activation of the BCDR policies will be authorized by the companies executive-level employees) in order to make sure the issue is solved and the company is no longer vulnerable.

Some companies may have policies about cloud storage (allowing you to back up your Mac to iCloud Drive), but having an external backup disconnected from the internet can be a lifesaver if cloud storage is compromised or you get hit by ransomware. 

Enter the Time Machine

Apple has created a built-in tool for backing up the files on your computer hard drive called Time Machine. Time Machine’s purpose is to create a copy of every file currently on your Mac’s hard disk whether they be photos, video, or system files. This process is done automatically in the background, providing you with reliable backups to fall back on. 

Creating a Backup

To create a backup of your computer’s files with Time Machine you will need an external storage device. Apple does provide a variety of choices when it comes to the type of external storage device you are backing up to, or you can find suitable third-party hardware. Backups can even be made to another Mac that acts as an external hard drive. The first step in creating a back up for your Mac is: 

  1. Connect an external hard drive to your Mac
  2. Open Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Time Machine.
  1. Click Backup Automatically, after which you will be asked to select the disk you wish to back up to. This would be the external hard drive you connected earlier.
  1. You can also encrypt your backup disk afterward.
  2. You will be given 3 timeframes for backing up your device:
  • Hourly backups for the past 24 hours
  • Daily backups for the past month
  • Weekly backups for all previous months

Time Machine will also ask if you wish to encrypt these backups with passwords.

Clicking on the options button will allow you to exclude items from the backup if you so wish.

Following these steps ensures that you have your computer’s hard drive is backed up in case of an incident, and the lost data can be recovered.

Does your company have security policies about data backups?


Get custom information security policies generated for your business in minutes. Securicy guides you through creating, implementing, and managing your cybersecurity plan.

Try Securicy Free

Tags: backup / file / file backup / how to / macos /