Backup disks you can use with Time Machine

To use Time Machine to make a backup of your Mac, you need one of these types of storage device.


External drive connected to your Mac

Time Machine can back up to an external drive connected to a USB, Thunderbolt or FireWire port on your Mac. If the disk isn't using the correct format, Time Machine will prompt you to erase it. 


Network-attached storage (NAS) device that supports Time Machine over SMB

Many third-party NAS devices support Time Machine over SMB. For details, check the documentation of your NAS device. 


Mac shared as a Time Machine backup destination

To use another Mac on your network as a Time Machine backup destination, complete these steps on the other Mac.

macOS Ventura or later

  1. On the Mac to be used as a Time Machine backup destination, choose Apple menu  > System Settings.
  2. Click General in the sidebar, then click Sharing on the right.
  3. Turn on File Sharing. You may be asked to enter your administrator password.
  4. Click the info button  next to File Sharing.
  5. Click the add button (+) under the Shared Folders list, then choose a folder to use for Time Machine backups.
  6. Control-click the folder you've added, then choose Advanced Options from the shortcuts menu that appears.
    Sharing settings, Advanced options
  7. Select “Share as a Time Machine backup destination”, then click OK.

When setting up Time Machine on your other Mac computers, you should now be able to select the shared folder as a backup disk.

Earlier versions of macOS

  1. On the Mac to be used as a Time Machine backup destination, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences.
  2. Click Sharing.
  3. From the list of services on the left, select File Sharing.
  4. Click the add button (+) under the Shared Folders list on the right, then choose a folder to use for Time Machine backups.
  5. Control-click the folder you've added, then choose Advanced Options from the shortcuts menu that appears.
    Sharing preferences, Advanced options
  6. Select “Share as a Time Machine backup destination”, then click OK.

When setting up Time Machine on your other Mac computers, you should now be able to select the shared folder as a backup disk.


External drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac) or AirPort Time Capsule

Time Machine can back up to an external USB drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac model) or AirPort Time Capsule.

  1. Connect the drive directly to your Mac, then use Disk Utility to erase it.
  2. Connect the drive to a USB port on your AirPort base station, then turn it on.
  3. Open AirPort Utility, then select your base station and click Edit to view its settings.
  4. Click the Disks tab in the settings window.
  5. Select your backup disk from the list of partitions, then select “Enable file sharing”: 
    AirPort Utility window Disks tab with
  6. If more than one user on your network will back up to this disk with Time Machine, you can use the Secure Shared Disks pop-up menu to make sure they can only view their own backups, not yours. Choose “With accounts” from the menu, then click the add button (+) to add users.
  7. Click Update to restart your base station and apply the settings.


AirPort Time Capsule

Time Machine can back up to the built-in hard disk of an AirPort Time Capsule on your network.


Learn more

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