iCloud Is Not a Substitute For a Time Machine Backup With Your Mac

Many people decide to skip using a backup like Time Machine to protect the files on their Mac, in favor of simply using iCloud Drive and iCloud Photos. While cloud services are a great way to sync and access your files across devices, they fall short when compared to backing up with something like Time Machine. Learn why you should use Time Machine in addition to iCloud to keep your files and photos safe.

Comments: 22 Responses to “iCloud Is Not a Substitute For a Time Machine Backup With Your Mac”

    Alex
    2 weeks ago

    Hello,

    Based on your extensive experience and knowledge in particular (thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!) would like to ask you how big the HDD is required for the normal functioning of TimeMachine that we not worry about space? 1TB HDD is OK?

    Best regards

    2 weeks ago

    Alex: I recommend getting one as large as you can. In general, I would get one twice the total size of the drive(s) you are backing up. So if you just have a 1TB internal and nothing else, get a 2TB. But check prices. If it is just a few bucks more for a 4TB, then why not go with that?

    Alex
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks for the detailed information and very quick response.

    Best regards

    Mike Ganey
    2 weeks ago

    Would it make sense in the future to enable Time Machine backups to iCloud? Combine the benefits of both. Right now, I use Backblaze for cloud backups, plus Time Machine, plus iCloud for storage.

    2 weeks ago

    Mike: One problem is storage space and cost. Most Mac users would then fall into the largest tier of iCloud storage. You and I wouldn’t mind as we are already paying for online backups. But it would be a barrier to entry for others. Another factor that keeps people away from online backups is connection speed and bandwidth limits.

    Brian
    2 weeks ago

    I’ve found it shocking the number of people who have told me that they used iCloud as a backup. I’ve shared with them the points you’ve made in this video. Now, I can save myself some time and just share a link to your video. Thanks! BTW: the sync between audio and video in your clip was noticeably not very good. I don’t know if it was my iMac or the software you use to create your clips. But, I haven’t notice any issues with videos from other sources.

    Ian Maitland
    2 weeks ago

    I use Time Machine, iCloud and Google Drive, but apart from loss I fear viruses and ransomware. Does Time Machine provide any protection here?
    I connect a separate back up drive daily just for the time needed for the back up and then disconnect, and do an additional back up of main folders to Google Drive once a month. Do cloud services protect against malware ?

    2 weeks ago

    Ian: It would depend on the theoretical future ransomware — how it works and what it does, and also what you did to allow it to run on your Mac. It could be that Time Machine offers some protection, but anything is possible. But things like that aren’t a threat if you don’t install software you don’t trust. I don’t see how the cloud protects against malware in any way, other than just being another place where your data is stored. Again, it depends on the malware. The vast majority today is adware and has nothing to do with data loss.

    Charles Smay
    2 weeks ago

    Gary, Another great Video! Time machne has saved me several times when I lost files. As you suggest I also use a couple of different exteranal storage drives. However I did manage to make a serious mistake with TM files. Am confessing here so perhaps you can warn others. Rather than letting TM delete files, for some dumb reason I durg some to my trash folder. Now can’t delete them. How do you get rid of TM files that are in the mac HD trash?

    2 weeks ago

    Charles: That’s a tough one. I’m not sure (and not willing to intentionally make the mistake to try it!)

    K Long
    2 weeks ago

    Gary, I do not use a Mac and ONLY use iPhone and iPad for everything and all is backed up on the cloud, not sure of any other way to backup mobile devices and wondering if you feel this is ok.

    2 weeks ago

    K Long: Yes, backing up to iCloud is probably your best bet.

    Eckart Goette
    2 weeks ago

    I am unable to restore a deleted calendar from Time Machine. The calendar app will disappear when going back in time. However, iCloud Drive offers a calendar restore function. Can anyone show me how to restore a deleted calendar from Time Machine?

    2 weeks ago

    Eckart: Was the Calendar a local one, or one from your iCloud account? If an iCloud one, I don’t know if it was ever “on” you computer to be saved to Time Machine, other than cached data. The same as a website is never on your machine, you are just viewing it.

    Eckart Goette
    2 weeks ago

    Gary: You are right in that the calendar is from an iCloud account. Thanks for the explanation. That’s why SuperDuper! was no help either. I even tried to in Finder go to ~/library, went back in time and restored an older calendar folder. That did not restore the deleted calendar. But iCloud’s restore function did work. Very little documented help though on this topic.

    Bruce M
    2 weeks ago

    Another misconception I’ve seen is about cloud backup services, such as BackBlaze (which I use faithfully). BackBlaze is great as “offsite” redundant storage, so if your house burns down with BOTH your computer and TM drive, you still have your data. But you can’t restore a Mac fully (no apps, system files). TM is essential–thanks for covering the topic.

    Janice McLeod
    2 weeks ago

    I have a MacBook Pro and Time Machine (purchased together) from 2010. My poor, overworked MacBook Pro will soon be replaced with a shiny, new model but I’ve been wondering if my “old” 2010 model Time Machine will be compatible with a current generation MacBook Pro. What are your thoughts? Also if replacing both is your recommendation, any thoughts on Time Machines life span as compared to the MacBook Pro or Desk Top models? Thanks

    2 weeks ago

    Janice: “Time Machine” is the software that comes with macOS to back up your data. You don’t purchase it. Do you mean an external hard drive or perhaps an Apple “Time Capsule” router? Either one will work with your new Mac.

    Janice McLeod
    2 weeks ago

    Hi again Gary, yes it would be the Time Capsule Router that I’m referring to, which (yeah) is still working fine. I just wasn’t sure if there maybe compatibility issues given a difference of about 10 years between a 2010 Time Capsule and the 2020 MacBook Pro.

    Janice McLeod
    2 weeks ago

    Hi again Gary, yes it would be the Time Capsule Router that I’m referring to, which (yeah) is still working fine. I just wasn’t sure if there maybe compatibility issues given a difference of about 10 years between a 2010 Time Capsule and the 2020 MacBook Pro.

    Karl
    1 week ago

    Gary, I really miss the Time Capsule routers, I wish Apple would have continued making them, they were so simple to use. Can you hook up an external drive to a router to get the same benefits as the old Time Capsule routers, does it work as good as having the external drive directly connected to your MacBook? Do you recommend an SSD driver over a regular one? Thanks

    1 week ago

    Karl: Yes, you can and many people do. But your router has to support using external drives over the network like that. I DO NOT recommend using an SSD. It is a waste of money. You don’t need the speed of an SSD to do network backups. Just get a regular HDD. The advantage to a drive connected directly is that it is faster. The advantage to a network drive is it works better with laptops when they can’t always be connected to a drive because you they aren’t sitting in the same spot. So for a desktop just get a USB drive. For a laptop, a network drive has advantages.

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