How to Take Your First Time Machine Backup

In this next article in our series on setting up an Apple home office, we’re going to show you how to configure a network drive and perform a Time Machine backup to protect your data in case something happens to your Mac.

To do this, you’ll need an external USB hard drive. For this example we are using a 1 TB hard drive.

By now, we assume, you’ve set up your Apple home office as we outlined earlier in the series. Right? Good. Let’s get started.

Your first step is to plug the USB drive into the back of the Apple Extreme Router as shown below.

Plugging cable into Apple Extreme Router

Next, give your hard drive a minute or so to boot up. On the Apple dock, select the Finder icon.

Arrow pointing to Finder icon in Apple Dock

Under Shared, select the name of the router you created.

Arrow pointing to router under Shared section of Finder window

The name of the hard drive you connected to your Extreme Router will appear in the list.

Hard drive listed as folder in Shared list in Finder

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Select the name of the folder and you will be able to browse the contents as shown below. If you are showing hard disks in your Finder preferences (see below), an icon will also appear on your Mac desktop.

Closeup of General tab of Finder Preferences window and closeup of hard drive icon showing on desktop

Now that you have configured your network drive, let’s configure Time Machine.

Select System Preferences from the Mac desktop and choose Time Machine.

Click the Select Backup Disk button and choose the drive you connected to the Extreme Router. Enter the password.

Time Machine window with Backup Disks window open

Entering password on Time Machine dialog box
Next, slide the Time Machine toggle from Off to On.

Time Machine toggle switched to On

Your first Time Machine backup will commence and you will now continue to perform backups until you fill up the disk. You’re good to go.

In our example we had existing data. This data will be safe, as only the unused space on your hard drive will be used for Time Machine backups. If you prefer to use the entire disk, reformat your drive.

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