How to backup Macbook to external hard drive without Time Machine: 2023 Guide

After an unfortunate event, you will never lose data if you back up your Mac to an external hard drive with Time Machine. But there are chances where Time Machine is not what you are looking for and want an alternative. We are here to provide you with just that.

The importance of backup cannot be understated. Keeping daily or weekly data backups protects you from inevitable data loss situations caused by common events such as system crashes, malware infections, and failures of hard drives. It saves time and money to have a backup when these errors occur. The backup copy can then be used for disaster recovery and business continuity. The majority of data loss situations will not affect you if you take daily or weekly backups. It is possible however that yearly backups won't be useful when you need to restore the data, resulting in significant losses.

If you have a MacBook you might know how to back it up using Time Machine. Nevertheless, Time Machine has its own limitations, so you should take a look at other alternatives to back up your MacBook without Time Machine.

Macs have limited storage space and Time Machine stores your backup on your local disk which is a major con of Time Machine. If you are using a MacBook Pro or iMac using external hard drives to back up your files from Mac is a more cost-effective alternative to upgrading. Your backup data is more secure on an external storage device than on Time Machine. Alternatively, you can make data bootable from another device by cloning your Mac.

The reasons for backing your data may be varied person to person but do you know how to backup your Mac to a hard disc without a time machine? Don't worry we are here to help you with a step-by-step guide. Let's begin:

How to Backup Your Mac to a Hard Disc Without Time Machine?

Ensure that your external drive is fully prepared if you back up your Mac to one. It is important to check the format and capacity of the hard drive. These two things are necessary, to begin with. There could be many ways to check the amount of storage size you need for the backup, but checking it through the 'About This Mac' could be an easier one. You can simply click on the 'Apple Logo' at the top left side of your system. There you find out 'About This Mac' and click on it. Your total storage should be displayed as a stacked bar graph when you click 'Storage'. There is also a space indicator above that lets you know how much space you still have left on your hard drive.

Also, remember if you intend to back up all the crucial data on your Macbook you should remove all useless and unused files first. For now, begin with start taking backup without a time machine.

Mac Backup

  1. Go to disc utility and click on it. The recovery window has it in the middle.

  2. Mac Backup
  3. Then click the Continue button. You can find this option at the bottom right of the window. You will be able to access the disc utility window once you have done so.

  4. Mac Backup
  5. Now, you will need to select your external hard drive. Then click the name or letter of your external hard drive.

  6. Mac Backup
  7. Then click on Edit. It is located at the top left of the screen. You will see a drop-down menu.

  8. Mac Backup
  9. Click the Restore Button. The drop-down menu has it. You will see a pop-up window appear.

  10. Mac Backup
  11. Go to your Mac's hard drive and select it. Then click the 'Restore from' drop-down box and choose your Mac's hard drive.

  12. Mac Backup
  13. Restore is the next step. This button is blue on the right side of the window. Your content will start copying to your external hard drive as soon as you press this button.

  14. Mac Backup
  15. Now, make sure you eject your external hard drive. As a result, this will prevent the drive's data from being accidentally corrupted.

How To Clean Junk and Useless Files Before Backup?

Before starting the backup process it is also a good idea to say goodbye to the useless and old files that have been unnecessarily occupying your space for a long time now. Choose either the document or download folder to begin. You can sort either by size or by the date you last opened either of them. Follow simple steps choose view>sort by date or size. Now, delete all the files you don't need any longer after going through them carefully.

If doing it manually seems to be a lengthy process to you, certain tools can be used to reduce your workload. iMyMac PowerMyMac is one such tool that can be helpful. With this tool, you can save space by using its 'Duplicate Finder', 'Junk Cleaner', and 'Large and Old Files features.'

Another such tool that you may want to check out is CleanMyMac X which has modules like Large & Old Files. The program finds the heaviest files and sorts them according to size types and dates accessed. It does the work for you without you having to manually navigate all the folders - just press a button and let the tool do the rest.

How To Delete Unwanted Files From Download Folder Before Backup?

The 'Downloads' folder may contain a large number of files that you have downloaded from various sources. The majority of these files may only have been needed once. You can free up extra space by deleting these unwanted files from your Downloads folder by following a few simple steps:
  • You can access your downloads by opening the Downloads folder in the Finder on your Mac.

  • Choose the files you wish to remove at once by pressing cmd+A.

  • Now, select the files and click on 'Move to Trash/Bin.'

  • To permanently delete these files you will have to empty your trash/bin.

Importance of Data Backup

  • Data loss can be prevented by backing up your important files. Additional security can be provided by encrypting the backup file or storage media.

  • You can easily, reliably, and safely restore lost files with a backup. It is possible to restore 100% of files from a regular backup without much effort. There will be no restoration of files that are created, updated, or added to the system between backup cycles. However, it is necessary to have data recovery software for this.

  • It's very difficult for businesses to survive without data. A study shows that 60% of companies can't survive after losing data even for a month. Regular data backups ensure data security and business continuity when data is lost.

  • You can feel secure about your data when you take regular backups or automate backup tasks. As a result, you are not concerned about the various reasons that may result in data loss.

  • Performing a backup can save you a significant amount of time compared to restoring lost data. When you have proper backups restoring them is simple. In other cases, you will have to spend enough time and need professional data recovery services to retrieve your data.

  • Cyber attacks are very common these days with the advancement of technology. Therefore it is imperative to have a backup and recovery solution. Knowing that you have a clean copy of your data stored elsewhere gives you peace of mind if your system is compromised or encrypted by ransomware.

Final Words

The reason for backing up your MacBook to external hard drives is varied, whether you want to keep your files secure, save space or keep your privacy. It's always wise to keep a second copy of your data to avoid any problems in the future and keep your work going without any obstacles. Whatever tool you use to back up your MacBook, backing it up is necessary to prevent data loss. The reason is that these backups can always be restored in case something goes wrong with your MacBook.


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