Backup disks you can use with Time Machine

Time Machine can back up to an external storage device connected to your Mac or supported AirPort base station. It can also back up to a Mac or network-attached storage device (NAS) on your network.

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.

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

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

  1. Make sure that the USB drive is formatted for Time Machine.
  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”: 
  6. If more than one user on your network will back up to this disk with Time Machine, you can use the Secured Shared Disks pop-up menu to make sure that they can view only 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 the built-in hard disk of an AirPort Time Capsule on your network.

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:

  1. Choose Apple () menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing.
  2. From the list of services on the left, select File Sharing.
  3. From the list of Shared Folders on the right, Control-click the folder that you want to use for Time Machine backups. 
  4. From the shortcut menu that opens, choose Advanced Options.
  5. From the Advanced Options dialog, select ”Share as a Time Machine backup destination.”

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

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 for your NAS device.

How to format a disk for Time Machine

Time Machine supports all Mac OS Extended (Journaled) formats and Xsan formats. If the disk isn't using the correct format, Time Machine prompts you to erase it when you connect it to your Mac. 

erase disk prompt

Time Machine can't back up to an iOS device or disk formatted for Windows. And if your disk uses the Master Boot Record (MBR) partition scheme, some of its partitions might not be available for use with Time Machine.

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