How to easily back up your Mac onto a USB drive (and feel like James Bond doing it)

Getty Images/Tim Mason

Hardware is replaceable, data isn’t. It’s 2023 and it still surprises me how many people don’t give any consideration to backing up their important data until it’s too late.

Also: Optimize Mac Storage can make your files go poof. Ask me how I know

And yet it’s super easy to do a data backup of your files in case disaster strikes — all you need is a USB drive and the software built into macOS.

Yes, I know, you could back up to the cloud. If you want to do this, I recommend Backblaze — nothing beats having a backup you can hold in your hand (and maybe keep safe in a fireproof safe or offsite).

The software we are going to use here is Time Machine.

Ideally, you want a USB drive that has double the capacity of your Mac’s drive, as this will allow for rolling backups, but in a pinch you can use a drive that’s the same size as your Mac’s storage drive, or even smaller, depending on how much data you have.

Also: The best external hard drives you can buy

Don’t worry, if your backup drive is too small, the Time Machine software will tell you.

Tip: Here’s how to find out how big your Mac’s storage drive is, and how much data it has on it.

On macOS Ventura or later: Click on the Apple menu  > System

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