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Posted 13.01.20

Backup Your Mac to Another Mac using Time Machine

If you are a small business or home user with a few Macs you could be using Time Machine to back up your Mac to somebody else’s. Let’s be fair, we all know that you should backup your computer but many of us rarely do. Maybe you’re tried to use backup software before but it’s not easy to setup or we keep forgetting to plug in our hard drive and drag over the latest copy of our work. It’s all just a bit of a hassle.

We just spend our time working on our Macs without thinking about it a lot of the time. That is until our hard drive fails and we shouldn’t do have access to our work and all that stuff you thought you’d put in Google Drive isn’t there after all.

Disaster!

If you are a Mac user and aren’t using “Time Machine” yet, you need to read on!

Time Machine is Apples one button setup backup solution that backs up your entire Mac and its build right into macOS. The first time your Mac performs a backup is backs up your entire Mac, absolutely everything. After that it backs up only the changes you make every hour for 24, every day for a week, and every month until the back up location is full but when its nearly full it’ll delete the oldest backup to make for the latest one! Turn it on and forget about it.

To turn it on take your new Hard drive and plug it into your Mac and you’ll be prompted to use this as a Time Machine backup location say yes (one click) to turn on.

The problem here, as you might have noticed, is that you still need to plug a hard drive into your Mac. Without the location (hard drive) plugged in you’ll not get that rich backup history. If you’re always forgetting to plug a hard drive in to manually copy across data you’ll still forget even though its automatic (trust me, my Mac has recently shouted at me as I haven’t plugged my drive in for over 50 days).

Lets say you are a small business with a few Macs around the office, wouldn’t it be great if your Mac just backed up over the network (WiFi) when you were at work without needing to remember to plug in a hard drive? Well the great thing is you can make your Mac a Time Machine location for other Macs to backup to and again this is built right into the Mac. This has been a feature of macOS server app for a long time but in macOS Mojave has been built into the ‘normal’ OS for home users and small business to take advantage of too.

On the Mac that you are going to use as the ‘Time Machine Server’ create a folder and name it something like ‘Time Machine Backups’. This folder can be on the Macs internal hard drive or on an external hard drive if you wish.

Next go to the  menu at the top left hand corner of the screen and select System Preferences. Next find and select the “Sharing” pane and click on “File Sharing”. After this click on the ‘+’ button in Shared Folders then navigate and select the folder that you created in the step above.

Right click on your folder and select “Advanced Options”. From this screen tick the box next to “Share as a Time Machine backup destination”. You can also limit how much space can be used for these backups (don’t forget you’ll want space on your hard drive to save your work too!)

Select ‘Okay’ and the tick the box next to File Sharing. Your Mac is now a Time Machine backup location.

On the Mac you want to back up go to the  menu at the top left hand corner of the screen and select System Preferences. Next find and select the “Time Machine” pane and click select disk. When the chooser window appears you’ll see the folder that you shared as a backup location on the first Mac. Repeat these steps for any other Macs you want to backup.

A few words of warning however. Only turn on file sharing services on for folders that you want to share across your network and consider who (which users) can access these files. You might want to create ‘sharing only users’ and allow access for these users (find out more here – https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/mac-help/mchlp15577/mac and here – https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/mac-help/mh17131/10.15/mac/10.15) This type of backup solution is not a replacement for business and enterprise level backup solutions and should not be used as the only solution in those types of environments.

To turn off File Sharing (and therefore Time Machine Backup Location) go to the  menu at the top left hand corner of the screen and select System Preferences. Next find and select the “Sharing” pane and untick the box next to “File Sharing”.

If you want to know more about advanced configurations of Time Machine (such as not backing up certain folders) have a look toward the bottom of this Apple KB – https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201250

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