Every Mac user should be backing up the files on their Mac. The easiest way to do this is to use Time Machine, which is part of macOS. You can get a cheap external hard drive and start doing this today. Time Machine is simple and automatic and can save you from disasters, as long as you start using it.
If you're new to Mac one of the most important things that you need to do, and if you haven't done it you need to do it right now, is you need to start backing up. Backups are critical no matter what type of computer system you're using. You need to have a good backup. Just this last month I've heard from people that have lost their photos. I've heard from people that have lost a journal that goes back years. I've heard from people that have lost super long documents with all sorts of information in them. All because they didn't have a good backup or in some cases they were able to actually get the data back because they had a good backup. So you need to do this. Every computer. It's like wearing a seatbelt. You need to do it and it's pretty easy to get going.
Apple has a great page on it and I'll have a link to this on the post here where it tells you how to set it up and everything. It couldn't be easier than on a Mac. You just follow the instructions on here and you get things setup.
The first thing you're going to need is an external drive to back things up. Now there are two ways to do this. One is having a network drive which is a little more complex. If you know how to do that and you have a MacBook, something that is not permanently sitting on a desk, then you're going to want to do that.
But otherwise the simplest way, whether you have a MacBook, an iMac, whatever it is, is to get an external drive. They're really cheap. You look at them and there are some that are down close to $50-$60. You want to get one that is larger than the drive on your Mac. So with MacBooks there's really no problem. A 1 or 2 TB drive, you can see here, are pretty cheap price, is easy to get. If you've got a larger drive on your Mac for some reason you're going to want to get a larger one because Time Machine just doesn't backup everything you have now but it keeps a record of things. A history. So if you accidentally deleted a file six months ago you can still get it back. A clone backup, a backup of everything you've got, isn't going to have things you just deleted because you deleted them. So they're not going to be backed up. But a history is really important and Time Machine does that automatically without you doing anything extra.
For under a hundred bucks you can get all sorts of drives. I like the ones that don't require any external power. I definitely want to say that you get USB 3 drives because all the newer Macs use USB 3. It's much faster and it's kind of future proofing it a little bit. USB 2 is much slower. So anyway, get a drive. Buy one online. Buy it at a local store. Start backing up. Whatever the price is, it's way cheaper than if you were to loose something valuable like photos or the novel you've been writing or some important work document.
Then getting going is pretty easy. So here, for instance, I've got a Mac that's never been hooked up to Time Machine before. So it's new just like if you would buy a new one or you haven't done this yet. If you go to System Preferences and then you go to Time Machine you're ready to get setup. It just has there Select Backup Disk. Now you want to hook up an external drive. You know something like this. A little external drive at this point and it will prompt you to use it as a backup drive. Actually, usually if you get a new one of these and you plug it into your Mac for the first time it's going to prompt you, saying do you want to use this as a backup drive.
So you select the drive, in this case it's called External Drive, and you hit Use Disk. It's going to completely erase the drive and it's going to then format it into the correct format for Time Machine. You don't have to worry about what it was formatted like before if it was for windows or anything like that. It's going to take care of everything. It's going to clean it off and set it up for Time Machine. You can also check this Encrypt backups box here. This is if you're worried that this drive may get stolen. Maybe something that you have in a public place like at work or something like that. If you encrypt the backup it's going to ask you for a password and you need to remember that password as you won't be able to get into anything on the backup. Depending upon your need for security you might want to check that or if this is just in your home and nobody has access to it but you then you may not want to worry about it.
As soon as you hit Use Disk you're set. Everything else is going to be automatic. It's going to automatically back things up when the drive is connected. If you have a desktop Mac, like an iMac or a Mac Mini or a MacPro you just keep it connected all the time. If you have something that you have to move around then you want to make sure you connect it daily. So maybe at the end of the day when you sit the MacBook on your desk just connect the backup drive to it. Because, of course, it can't backup unless it's connected. So you want to make sure that you do that. You want to let it just do its thing. Create its backups. A lot of people complain, hey it's doing it every hour. It's too much. It's actually not because in an hour of work you may only create one or two files, or alter one or two files, so the backup happens quickly. But if you were to leave the backups off for days then you may find out that the backup takes a long time because there's a lot for it to update. You want it to update as often as possible. Do it's a natural thing. Then if there's a disaster you can restore from Time Machine which is what it's meant for. You can also get files that you may have accidentally deleted and it will also come in handy when you get a new Mac because you can use the Time Machine backup to migrate to a new machine.
So there's a lot of reasons to start using Time Machine. Get it done right now. It's so important. Every single Mac user should be doing a Time Machine backup.
How to use Time Machine to back up or restore your Mac
Backup disks you can use with Time Machine