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Time  Machine  -  Frequently  Asked  Questions

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This topic contains answers to many common, general questions about Time Machine.

It does not, however, cover diagnosis and correction of specific problems or errors.  See Time Machine - Troubleshooting  for such help.   What's a question to you might be a problem to others, so if you don't see what you're looking for below, check that link, too.

For questions and problems specific to Time Capsules, see Using Time Machine with a Time Capsule.  General problems with Time Capsules are covered in Apple’s  Time Capsule  forum.

If you're not at all familiar with Time Machine, see Apple's Time Machine Tutorial video demo.

  1.  How big a drive do I need for Time Machine?

  2.  What can TM back up, and where can it put its backups?

  3.  Can I use my TM disk for other stuff?

  4.  Can I back up 2 or more Macs to the same external HD?

  5.  I just bought an external drive.  How do I get it to work with Time Machine?

  6.  Can I use a drive with other data already on it?

  7.  How can I tell what Time Machine is doing during (or after) a backup?

  8.  How can I tell what Time Machine is backing-up?

  9.  Why are my backups so large?

10.  Can I exclude things from Time Machine backups?

11.  What should I exclude, and what should I not exclude?

12.  Should I delete old backups?  If so, How?

13.  How are backups scheduled (and can I change that)?

  1. 14. How do I restore my entire system?

15A How do I use the (not so intuitive) Time Machine display?

15.  How do I view or restore selected items?

16.  How can I restore a file/folder to an alternate location?

17.  How can I see my backups, or the backups for a different Mac?

18.  How can I copy my TM backups to a different location?

19.  I got a new Mac, or a new or erased internal HD -- now what?

20.  Once my Mac is backed-up, can I delete some stuff to save space?

21.  How do I set up Time Machine to an internal or directly-connected external HD?

22.  How do I set up Time Machine to a shared drive on another Mac?

23.  How do I set up Time Machine to a Time Capsule or Airport Extreme?

24.  What do the Time Machine icons in my Menubar and Dock do?

  1. 25. Can I use Time Machine with File Vault?

  2. 26. What should I do about multiple User Accounts?

  3. 27. Can I have "dual" backups?   Or back up my Backups?

  4. 28. Where do I find what I want to restore?

  5. 29. How long should a Backup or Restore take?

  6. 30. What are Local Snapshots?

  7. 31. How do I set up and use encrypted backups?

  8. 32. Backing-up Multiple Drives / Partitions (on the same Mac)

  9. 33. Backing-up multiple Macs

  10. 34. "Rotating" Time Machine backup disks

Note:  if you don't see your question here, it might be thought of as a problem to others, so check Time Machine - Troubleshooting as well.

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