Mac restore from time machine to new hard drive

If you used Time Machine to create a backup of your Mac, you can restore You might want to do so after the original files are deleted from your Mac, or the hard disk (or SSD) in This screen might look different on your Mac.
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I've even seen cases where both the computer and the backup hard drive both failed at the same time. Murphy's Law seems to apply particularly often when it comes to computers!

MacUpgrades Time Machine FAQ

Mac macOS 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. If you run out of disk space, Time Machine will automatically erase the oldest version of the files to make way for the new ones.

You'll need a drive that is at least the same size as your Mac's internal drive. With storage quite cheap these days, aim to use a drive that's two to four times the size of the drive you're backing up.

Restoring your hard drive from a Time Machine backup

You can also use Time Machine with an external hard drive connected to an Airport Extreme router, with an AirPort Time Capsule network device, or with other network drives. For simplicity's sake, we're using an external drive for the examples below. Directly connected external drives are also faster. Then click the "Select Disk…" button to select the drive or volume you want to use for Time Machine. Time Machine will ask you if you want to use the disk as your backup destination and will give you the option to encrypt the backups with a password. The drive needs to be formatted as Mac macOS Extended Journaled ; if it's not, Time Machine will prompt you to reformat the drive which will erase all files on it!

Using Time Machine in OS X | SUNY Potsdam

The "Options" button in Time Machine will let you exclude volumes from the backups or get notifications when old backups are deleted. To view and restore files or folders from Time Machine, go to the Spotlight search and enter "Time Machine" to switch to the Time Machine view. Here you'll be able to scroll through the timeline on the right site to go back to a certain point in time or search for a file.

With a file highlighted, press the space bar to get a quick look of it or click the "Restore" button to copy the file back to the appropriate folder.

Step Two: Choose Hard Drive

In case of filename conflicts, you'll be asked which file to keep or whether to keep both versions. Time Machine can also restore your entire system at once, using the latest copies of all your files. Then select "Restore from a Time Machine Backup. You can't really rely on Time Machine for a complete full-system backup, however, if your startup disk is damaged and you can't boot into your Mac. For times like these, you'll need to have a clone or complete image of your system. A clone is an exact duplicate of your entire system. With a bootable clone of your drive, you can boot from your backup in minutes and keep working even if your Mac is having startup problems.

We want to make sure backing up is as automatic and as easy as possible, so either program is well worth the investment. Both cloning apps have plenty of fans, so it's really a matter of preference here; both SuperDuper! And Carbon Copy Cloner offer free trials so you can figure out which one you prefer.


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The examples below use SuperDuper! Here's how to create your bootable, complete backup. After installing and launching the cloning app, you'll need to choose where to store the backup. In the left drop-down menu, choose your Mac volume to back up. Then choose the destination volume in the right drop-down menu. You can back up to an external drive, networked computer, or an image file which you can store on a network volume or locally. You can even store both your Time Machine and cloned images on the same drive, but it's best to first partition the drive into two volumes, one for each purpose so that both can manage their allotted backup space.


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Personally, I prefer to have both on separate drives, to avoid having all the backups in the same basket. With some OS versions, the Mac prompts you to reformat at this step. If not, you can format the drive using Disk Utility. Formatting the hard drive erases any data it contains.

How you use Disk Utility to format your new hard drive depends on which edition of macOS you're using. The instructions are different for versions up to and including Yosemite and ones since El Capitan. Right-click the new hard drive icon on the desktop and select Get Info from the pop-up menu.

Make sure that Ignore ownership on this volume isn't active. To change it, click the padlock icon located in the bottom right corner of the window. When prompted, supply an administrator's username and password. You can now make the changes. Once you've set up the new drive, you'll need to transfer your old Time Machine backups to it. Here's what to do.


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Select the Time Machine preference pane. Both perform the same function. Connect your original drive to your computer and drag the Backups. If asked, supply an administrator name and password. The copying process can take a while, depending on the size of your current Time Machine backup.

Once the copying is complete, return to the Time Machine preference pane and click Select Disk. Share Pin Email. Tom Nelson has written hundreds of articles, tutorials, and reviews for Other World Computing and About. He is the president of Coyote Moon, Inc. Updated September 17, Follow these steps to move your current Time Machine backup to a new, larger drive.