It’s always a good time to have a backup of all your data but it's never more timely than after the failure of an internal hard drive. Mac owners have a great advantage over Windows users in this regard, since macOS has a neat feature that can bring back lost data if used regularly.
Back Up the Mac Using Time Machine
Time Machine is a built-in backup feature for every Mac. It requires an external storage device but once enabled those that use it have never looked back since it’s a lifesaver when it comes to data recovery. To set up Time Machine, connect an external drive directly to the Mac and confirm that you want to use the hard drive as a backup disk.
After setting it up, Time Machine will automatically make hourly backups of all the data that it is instructed to. It's extremely convenient because it will keep an up-to-date copy of everything on the Mac and, in addition to the backup data, will also remember the state of your system. This means it’s possible to revisit your Mac as it appeared in the past, particularly useful for troubleshooting.
It is possible to either connect an external hard drive via the USB, Thunderbolt, or FireWire port or back up the Mac to an external drive connected to an Airport Extreme Base station, an Airport Time Capsule, or a network-attached storage that supports Time Machine over SMB (Server Message Block).
Restoring Files Using Time Machine
This built-in feature of macOS is neat because it can either restore specific files from a backup or perform a complete restore of the system. Data recovery apps don't have the same pleasant graphical interface for traveling back in time (hence its name) to locate a specific version of a certain file.
If automatic backup is used, Time Machine can also be used as basic versioning software because the backup service will save a version of a file every hour. If it is necessary it can easily be restored to a previous version by traveling back in time. This isn’t something data recovery apps are designed to do because they are more like functional utilities with a single purpose: to bring files back from the ‘black hole’.
This clever interface of Time Machine is accompanied by the highly efficient manner of placing the file back in its original place, which means that the exact folder structure and file name is kept intact. This isn't always possible with data recovery apps because such services restore a folder structure from a ‘lost catalog’ of files where this kind of detail can be damaged or overwritten.
Data Recovery Apps and Time Machine
If the Mac's internal hard drive fails for some reason, users have two options: either use a data recovery app to rebuild the data saved on the disk or make use the highly convenient Time Machine, which will restore the system using the last saved state. In other words, you can even install the operating system via Internet Recovery on a completely blank internal drive by using just a keyboard shortcut and then restore every last file saved on a Mac before the hard drive failure. That's pretty neat, isn't it?
Data recovery apps might come into the picture if the Time Machine drive fails. It’s a bigger problem if this occurs and while it is possible to restore complete backups, there is no guarantee of 100% fully functional backups. That's why you should always keep an eye on the health status of the Time Machine drive and purchase a new one as soon as you see signs of a failing HDD.
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