Backing up your music, photos and documents on your Mac will not only help with saving space, but save your precious data if something happens to your hard drive. The user-friendly operating system that Mac computers offer makes backing up your music, photos and documents easier than ever.

Fortunately, you have a few different options to use when backing up your files, such as Time Machine, iCloud or even a thumb drive (a.k.a. flash drive). Each option offers a different way to backup the files and gets the job done.

Option 1: Use Time Machine to Backup Your Mac

Time Machine is an application used on the Mac OS X system. To use the application you will want to connect an external hard drive to your Mac. It is important to have external hard drive that is large as or larger than your Mac’s hard drive. You should not store anything else on this hard drive. If this is the first time connecting this external hard drive, a dialog may appear asking if you’d like to use it has a backup.  If it doesn’t appear, that is because you have already connected this hard drive to your Mac before.

To find and start the Time Machine application, follow these simple steps below:

  • Go to Finder and click on “Applications”
  • Then find Time Machine. It can easily be found if you type in Time Machine into the search bar on your Finder.
  • You will need to connect your hard drive to your Mac before you will be able to start the application.
  • Then you can open the Time Machine and start the process

Option 2: iCloud to The Rescue

If you have multiple Apple devices and are running the latest version of OS X Lion, then iCloud is a great backup option, and it’s free. iCloud is a another great feature within OS X Lion. If you are not running OS X Lion, then not to worry, you can purchase the application through the Mac App Store. Another great benefit of the iCloud application is that you are able to access it from any computer including Windows.

iCloud has many other benefits, including virtually unlimited space when it comes to music, books and applications that are purchased through Apple.  For any files that are not purchased through Apple, you will get 5GB of free space. This space can be used for any type of documents, mail and file backup.  If you purchase a new Apple item, iCloud will automatically recognize the new device. This will make it easy for you to access all your files with only a few clicks.

Another great part of iCloud is iTunes Music Match. This is the biggest part of iCloud from a consumers’ point of view. iCloud will automatically let you connect to your music on any device, no matter which one you purchased the music from. iTunes Music match will take it a bit further and let you use the benefits of iTunes in the Cloud for any music that wasn’t purchased from your iTunes account.  There are over 20 millions songs in the iTunes Store, so when any music is added, iTunes Music finds the match and automatically adds the music file to iCloud.

Option 3: Backup Your Mac With A Thumb Drive

Another option you have to backup your files on your Mac, is to use a flash drive. These small and portable devices are great for people on the go. Flash drives come in all different storage sizes. You can purchase them from 1GB all the way to 258 GB. The 258 GB will come with a hefty price of about $500, so something this big may not be needed for a system backup. It is important to get a flash drive that is at least big as the file you need to store or as big as your Mac’s internal hard drive.

To place your data onto a thumb drive, just follow these 4 simple steps:

1. Create a new file by pressing Command, Shift and the N key simultaneously. Then make sure to give the folder a name.

2. Plug in your USB flash drive. You may need to format your flash drive if you want it to be compatible for Mac, Windows and other devices including gaming devices.

3. If it is photos you want to store, then choose the photos you want from your iPhoto library.  To properly do this, you will want to select “File” and then “Export”. Then choose the “File Export” tab and select “JPEG” as you file format. You will want to choose “Maximum” as your file quality. Then click “OK”. You will then be able to drag and drop the photos directly into the file.

4. Once you have successfully placed the files on the flash drive, make sure you press “Eject” to safely remove the flash drive.

Backing up your hard drive is a great way to store your files without the chance or worry of losing them. Backing up is also a great way to transfer items from an open device to another. No matter what method you decide to use, they are all very easy to use and will backup your Mac’s most important files.

50 Melisse Deering


Melisse Deering is a trained Mac expert as well as a passionate Mac user. She quickly realized the significance of Mac’s user friendliness and advanced features, motivating her to become an avid user and sequentially an expert.