carbonite logo

Commonly searched topics:

backupcloud backupaccount sign in


How to back up a Mac

Apple's backup options

Apple offers its customers a range of options for backing up pictures and files on Mac desktop computers or MacBook laptops. While Apple’s solutions are good for Apple, customers should consider additional backup options if they want to ensure their files are truly secure. Even Time Machine, Apple’s best backup for Mac, is vulnerable because it does not protect your files in a separate physical location from the original.

Time Machine
Time Machine is backup software that Apple includes with Mac desktop computers and MacBook laptops running OS X. It creates copies of documents and stores them on an external hard drive that you purchase, such as an Apple AirPort Time Capsule. Time Machine gives you many of the benefits of a typical backup solution, including file history and incremental backups. File history enables you to restore previous versions of files while incremental backups reduce the time it takes to create a backup by only uploading changes you’ve made since the previous backup. The main drawback is that because Time Machine backs up to a local drive, it’s vulnerable to local disasters like fires, floods and theft. One of the essential rules of backup states that you must have at least one copy at a separate physical location from the original. Time Machine does not satisfy this rule.

Airport Time Capsule

Apple Airport Time Capsule combines an external hard drive and Wi-Fi-enabled base station in one device. It’s designed to sync with a Mac desktop computer or MacBook laptop through Apple’s Time Machine backup software. Its Wi-Fi connectivity makes Time Capsule easy to pair with other networked computers. But like any external hard drive, it’s often located right next to the computer that holds the original copy, which makes backups susceptible to local disasters.

iCloud is Apple’s online storage service designed for backing up mobile devices, like your iPhone or iPad. It is not designed for backing up laptop or desktop computers.

iCloud Drive
iCloud Drive is a file hosting service for Apple’s mobile devices and computers. It’s very similar to popular file sync and share services like Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox. iCloud Drive stores individual documents you upload from computers and mobile devices running OS X or iOS. Much like file sync and share services, iCloud Drive lets you access the documents you share on any of your devices. But also like the others, you must choose the files and folders you want to upload, and only those files are backed up. iCloud Drive will not protect against accidental deletion or file overwriting.

Best Backup for Mac

While Time Machine offers some of the essential features you want in a backup solution, it doesn’t protect against disasters that strike close to home (or office, as the case may be). The only way to ensure the files on your Mac desktop or MacBook are safe from from natural disasters, power outages and theft is to keep at least one copy at an offsite location.

A cloud backup solution, like Carbonite®, can protect both your Mac and your Time Capsule (or other external hard drive) from all of the most common forms of data loss.


For more topics on safeguarding your digital life, go to our 'How-To' library.

Interested in automatic cloud backup?

See plans and pricing