1. How to Back Up Your Computer with Time Machine. Mac macOS (10.5 and above) has an excellent built-in backup tool called Time Machine. Once you plug in a hard drive and set up Time Machine, it will work automatically in the background, continuously saving copies of all your files, applications, and system files (i.e., most everything except for the stuff you likely don’t need to back up, such.
  2. A general 'rule of thumb' is, to keep a reasonable 'depth' of backups, Time Machine needs 2 to 4 times as much space as the data it's backing-up (not necessarily the entire size of your internal HD). Be sure to add the size of the data on any other drives/partitions you want to back up. But this varies greatly, depending on how you use your Mac.

Here’s how to setup and configure Time Machine backups on a Mac: Connect the Time Machine hard drive to the Mac if you have not done so already Go to the  Apple menu in the upper left corner, then select “System Preferences”, and choose “Time Machine” Click “Select Backup Disk”.

/Mac Tips /What Does Time Machine Backup? The Ultimate Guide

Time Machine uses a unique method that mimics complete backups after creating a copy for modified files at hourly intervals. Time Machine runs like clockwork without manual upkeep or fuss. It only duplicates a file if altered, but this generates snapshots for every backup with hard links for each item on the backed-up drive.

But the stark contrast with proprietary backup tools is that it not only mothballs spare duplicates of all files but also memorizes how your Mac looked on any day-so you can walk back in time. But exactly what does time machine backup? At the outset, Time Machine does not back up everything, unlike duplication-centered solutions like MacDaddy.

Article GuidePart 1: What Is The Scope of Apple’s Time Machine Back UpPart 2: What Does Time Machine Backup Files?Part 3: Other Alternatives to Backup FilesPart 4: Final Thoughts

People Also Read:How to Backup Mac and Why It Is Important to Do SoHow to Remove Old Backup Files from Mac?

Part 1: What Is The Scope of Apple’s Time Machine Back Up

About Time Machine

Time Machine uses a hard link that mimics and behaves like a separate clone of a file accessible via the Finder or Terminal. The hard link keeps the file extent uniquely once on a drive. Each instance of the file presents a link to that one special version. They’re removable without purging the original until you remain with one link.

The hard-link system benefits include intuitive navigation via Finder, and also a simple approach of reinstating a snapshot even without extra operations. It also allows you to delete snapshots without banishing data associated with other backups.

In case you inadvertently remove your recovery partition and you want to restore it back, you need to regenerate it. Restore everything, reinstall macOS and then load on everything with Time Machine.

Excluded Files

Contrary to the popular opinion that Time Machine backs up everything, it excludes a variety of files based on ecosystem rules. Accordingly, this nomenclature rules out cache files, log files, junk, and certain app settings.

iMyMac Mac Cleaner-The Must-Have Instrument for Cleanup

Unlike Time Machine, cloud services garbage down junk files and eat up precious space. iMyMac offers thoroughbred cleanup and optimization tools to keep clutter at bay. It zeroes in on system junk like broken links, cache files and vestiges of uninstalled apps.

You only need to run regular scans and farm out all types of redundant content. iCloud’s 5GB storage space will be filled to the brim quickly if you allow junk files to claim gigabytes of room. Mac Cleaner is a safe pair of hands and a preventative measure to salvage hard disk space.

It’s the go-to all-in-one system maintenance software to breeze through cleanup and wipe out all types of clutter. It comes with a Free Trial to erase a host of files excluded from Apple’s Time Machine backup. Install it to remove junk that may end up in your backups.

Time Machine Backup For Mac Os

Temporary and system-specific files fall outside Apple’s Time Machine. By default, it does not back up:

  • System log files
  • Spotlight indexes
  • All types of cache files
  • Trash contents
  • Temporary files

It applies to all lineups of Mac OS X equipped with Time Machine.

Part 2: What Does Time Machine Backup Files?

Time Machine comes in handy for pre-update backup. So how to back up your Mac with Time Machine? Below are the steps:

Step 1. Plug-in An External Storage As Time Machine Backup Disk

Time Machine Backup For Mac Os

Plug in an external storage like a USB or Thunderbolt drive. Check whether you have a backup disk sanctioned by Apple for use with Time Machine.

When you plug in the drive, you should encounter a prompt to use it as your Time Machine backup disk. If you don’t see it, navigate to Apple menu > System Preferences > Time Machine.

How To Set Up Time Machine

Step 2. Check the Back Up Automatically

Time Machine Backup Interrupted Mac Os X

Check the Back Up Automatically field. Hit Select Backup Disk.

Step 3. Highlight the Disk You Wish to Use

Highlight the disk you wish to use. To bolster the backup, check the field to Encrypt backups, but it adds the time taken to get the job done. Finally, hit Use Disk. After you configure a backup disk, Time Machine kicks off automatic data back up without diminishing workflow efficiency.

To launch a manual Time Machine backup, go to the menu bar and click the Time Machine icon. Highlight Back Up Now in the menu. Time Machine backs up everything from soups to nuts. For instance, Time Machine will do a fresh install of specific apps, folders, and handpicked files. As long as you know where to find your files on your HDD, you can create a backup.

Part 3: Other Alternatives to Backup Files

Duplication Tools

Duplication-based tools like CCC, MacDaddy, and SuperDuper will back up literally everything. However, these tools lock out some files by default like temporary or system-specific files recommended for exclusion by Apple. Look for a trouble-free experience to create a full backup or clone. They come in handy for generating bootable clones for a backup system. You can create precise copies of your hard drive, Mac OS X startup drive, or Apple iPod.


If you have upgraded your iCloud storage, it’s a good option to backup troves of data. You can select Desktop and Documents folder, Mail, Pages, and Numbers. It’s helpful for Mac users with more than one Apple device.

Apart from iCloud, you can use Dropbox, Google Drive, and other cloud backup solutions. They allow you to share files or storing collaborative data but we wouldn’t recommend them to back up all your files. You wouldn’t easily extract a clone on your computer if you lose it. You could have a downloadable disc image of your system in the cloud.

Part 4: Final Thoughts

Apple preinstalls its backup software, Time Machine in macOS. It’s pretty easy to use armed with an external storage source, hard drive, or SSD to do the trick. Time Machine not only backs up your Mac but also generates incremental copies so you can retrieve an earlier version of a file if you need it.

You may want to set up Time Machine on NAS drive to back up wirelessly, but it runs at a snail’s gallop. Alternative backup software with a clever mix of features puts Apple’s tool in the shade because you can use it to boot from another Mac.

I hope you now know the answer to the question-what does time machine backup.

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What to do when the time machine is stuck in preparing backup for macOS 10.15 - OS X 10.6? Here we are going to talk about how long Time Machine preparing backup take and how to fix Time Machine stuck issues in macOS Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra or some other Mac versions.

This page unveils the solution to resolve the Time Machine stuck issue and offers a reliable data recovery software to help you bring lost files back with ease. If you are suffering from this issue, follow the provided process to make Time Machine work again:

Workable SolutionsStep-by-step Troubleshooting
Phrase 1. Check CauseFind the cause of Time Machine stuck: 1. The data size is too big; 2. Drive problem...Full steps
Phrase 2. Fix Time MachineStop failing Time Machine > Remove the .inProgress file > Prevent Spotlight from indexing...Full steps
Phrase 3. Recover Lost DataIf you lost data after fixing the issue, run EaseUS Mac data recovery software to restore lost data...Full steps

Many users have an unpleasant experience of Time Machine stuck in preparing backup in macOS Catalina, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra or some other Mac versions. Time Machine is a simple and convenient backup tool for mac. Generally, it creates backups automatically - It starts and finishes without your interference. However, in certain cases, this tool can get frozen or stuck.

If Time Machine gets stuck, you shouldn't feel helpless. The purpose of this article is to explain how to judge if Time Machine stuck in preparing the backup process or not and how to fix the issue.

Time Machine Backup Mac Os X Server

Does Your Time Machine Really Get Stuck

Before you start the process of fixing Time Machine, you’ll need to make sure that something is actually wrong. A number of things can make Time Machine take longer than usual. Generally, the preparing backup process is very quick. But some special situations will force Time Machine to take a long time preparing for a backup to begin.

1. The size of the data is too big.

  • You have a really large hard drive to backup. For example, you have to back up terabytes of data.
  • You've made major changes or added a number of new files to your drive.

2. There is something wrong with your device.

  • The hard drive is very old.
  • The device is too slow, you need to speed up the Mac.
  • The virus attacked your Mac.

3. Haven't backed up data for a long time.

  • It is the very first Time Machine backup or you haven't backed up a Mac in a while, say a few months.

In all the cases mentioned above, the Time Machine backup preparation phase does indeed take a long time. But if the Preparing Backup stage takes 12-24 hours, getting stuck in that stage overnight or all day long for no reason, it's not normal. Most times, it suggests that Time Machine has been stuck at preparing the backup.

If you are one of the victims, this guide should help you fix the problem and get Time Machine working on Mac again.

What to Do If Time Machine Is Stuck in the 'Preparing Backup' Process

We’ll go through a multi-step troubleshooting process to resolve the preparing backup problem and get Time Machine working on Mac OS X or macOS again. Before you take any action, back up Mac as soon as possible.

Step 1. Stop the currently failing Time Machine backup attempt

Time Machine Backup For Mac Os
  • Open the 'Time Machine' settings panel within System Preferences (get there from the Apple menu or Time Machine menu).
  • Click the little (x) icon until the backup attempt stops.

When the progress bar disappears and it no longer says 'preparing backup', it means that you have successfully stopped the currently failed Time Machine backup attempt. Then, you can move to the next step to troubleshooting the Time Machine stuck in preparing backup issue.

Step 2. Remove the .inProgress File

When Time Machine backup is stopped and stuck, the first thing to do is trash the Time Machine placeholder file, at most times the .inProgress file found on the backup drive.

  • Open the Time Machine drive in the Finder and navigate to the 'Backups. backup' folder.
  • Open the folder within Backups. backup that is the name of the current Mac which is stuck on preparing.
  • Put this directory into 'List View' and sort by 'Date Modified', or just search the folder for a file with a '.inProgress' file extension.
  • Delete the 'xxxx-xx-xx-xxxxxx.inProgress' file.

Step 3. Prevent Spotlight from Indexing the Time Machine Backup

Spotlight can interfere with the Time Machine preparation process if it's performing an index of the Time Machine backup volume. You can prevent Spotlight from indexing the Time Machine backup volume by adding it to the Privacy tab of the Spotlight preference pane as follows:

  • Launch System Preferences by clicking its Dock icon, or selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  • Open the Spotlight preference pane by clicking its icon in the Personal Area of the System Preferences window.
  • Click the Privacy tab.

Either drag-and-drop your Time Machine backup volume to the list of locations that will not be indexed, or use the Add (+) button to browse to your backup folder and add it to the list.

Step 4. Reboot Mac and Initiate a Backup Again

Once the .inProgress file is removed, you can reboot your Mac computer with the Time Machine drive connected and turn Time Machine back on to initiate a backup as usual. If this doesn't work, you can use a third-party backup utility - EaseUS Todo Backup for Mac which can back up Mac with just 3 simple steps.

Best Data Recovery Software for Mac (Compatible With Catalina)

One of the most depressing challenges for Mac users must be Mac data recovery. Here EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard could do you a favor. No matter whether you lose a single Office file or terabytes of photos, EaseUS Mac data recovery software can help.

  • Recover deleted, formatted, and inaccessible data in different data loss situations.
  • Recover photos, audio, music, and emails from any storage effectively, safely and completely.
  • Recover data from the Trash, hard drive, memory card, flash drive, digital camera, and camcorder.

Step 1. Select the disk location (it can be an internal HDD/SSD or a removable storage device) where you lost data and files. Click the 'Scan' button.

Step 2. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac will immediately scan your selected disk volume and display the scanning results on the left pane.

Time Machine Backup Mac Os High Sierra

Step 3. In the scan results, select the file(s) and click the 'Recover Now' button to have them back.

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