Backing Up Mac Data With Time Machine And iCloud- Best In 2021

Backing Up Mac Data With Time Machine And iCloud

Some MacBook owners are quite reluctant to back up their data. They believe that macOS is reliable enough and that nothing should happen to the computer’s hardware.

Well, there is some truth to that. After all, MacBooks are known for their reliability, but the praise for Apple computers comes from Mac aficionados, who are slightly biased. 

Besides, different factors threaten computer data. For example, even minor viruses or malware could snowball and suddenly wipe one’s files. A random power outage when a computer processes data is also not out of the question. Lastly, someone may get their hands on your computer and decide to have their way with the data. And losing personal or work files could be quite significant.

You could argue that there is software that could restore the files, but there are no guarantees that such software can restore everything. No, instead of taking a risk, you should get in the habit of backing up your MacBook data regularly. 

There are two popular methods to back up computer data—transferring it to an external HDD or USB stick or transferring it to cloud storage. For extra peace of mind, it is recommended to use both cloud storage and an external device.

Let’s take a look at the two methods and what you need to do to properly back up your MacBook data.

Cloud Storage

The first thing to note about cloud storage and external storage is that you will need to invest money. There is a monthly fee for cloud storage and iCloud specifically (the default service for macOS).

iCloud offers five gigabytes of free storage, but it is unlikely to be enough for your needs. There are three different monthly plans to choose from:

  • 1 dollar/month for 50GB
  • 3 dollars/month for 200GB
  • 10 dollars/month for 2TB

Pick either of these three depending on your needs. And once you run out of available storage, you can upgrade to a better option. 

Other than iCloud, you could also use Dropbox and Google Drive. Such services are great as well, though they are not tailor-made for Apple devices. 

MacBook users stick to iCloud because it is easier to transfer files back and forth between the cloud and the computer. In addition, you can create an Apple device ecosystem if you have an iPhone or an iPad. 

Cleaning iCloud storage junk to create more space should also be something to keep in mind. Do not forget that if you notice that the problem is with the total available iCloud storage.

External Devices

Backing Up Mac Data With Time Machine And iCloud1

Transferring MacBook files to an external hard drive or a USB stick is one of the most popular methods to free up the computer’s disk space. Some Mac owners run into various storage problems. For example, Mac trash won’t empty, or they struggle to get rid of temporary junk. They need to transfer some data to a new location until they can figure things out.

However, if backing up data is your primary goal, you will need more than just an external device. 

For MacBook owners, transferring data to an HDD with the backup intent is not that simple. No, it also requires Time Machine—a built-in tool that lets you create backups and sync the MacBook with an external hard drive and back up data regularly.

A new hard drive with enough storage should not cost more than 50 dollars. When you compare this price with iCloud storage, the difference is quite significant. If you use the 200GB plan for three dollars a month, it means paying 36 dollars a year. In two years, you would have paid 72 dollars. In other words, an external HDD is a cheaper option long-term.

To start backing up data, mount the hard drive. You will see a pop-up that asks you to choose from available storage devices. Click on the appropriate option and initiate the process.

The first backup might take a while, but future backups will not take as long because Time Machine does not back up all the files separately again. Instead, it backs up data that has changed, including new files. 

You can still use the MacBook while it is backing up data, but the performance should be noticeably worse.

Other than Time Machine and an external hard drive, you can simply get a USB stick and copy files from the computer to the stick and keep them there. Some Mac owners may not need to invest in an external HDD simply because they do not have that many files on the computer.


This article should give you some insight into both cloud storage and external devices to sum it all up. If you have not bothered backing up your MacBook’s data before, now would be a good time to start.

Leave a Comment