How to Backup Files on a Mac Disk

Disk Drill allows you to backup data on Mac OS X by creating a byte-to-byte disk image. This disk image (or DMG) is an exact copy of your hard drive, usually saved onto a separate external hard drive. Backing up your failing Mac hard drive — and running Mac data recovery from it — has never been easier. MacOS Big Sur Ready!

Backup DMG
How to Backup Data on a Mac Disk

Sooner or later, all hard drives fail. Maybe opening files begins to take minutes instead of seconds. Maybe you even hear strange noises coming from inside your Mac. Maybe you are beginning to see strange messages about corrupted files.

Instead of shrugging off these warning signs, take action to backup data on Mac quickly. Because while it's still working, Disk Drill Mac data backup software can take an exact snapshot of the hard drive, preserve a copy of the data, and recover it later whenever necessary. Hard drive problems only get worse, not better, so the sooner you take this snapshot (also called a disk image, or DMG) of your hard drive, the more chances you have of preserving all of your files.

Disk Drill makes OS X backup quick and painless. Uniquely, Disk Drill includes every bit of data that is on the disk, even the areas marked as free space, which may contain missing deleted files. After, you can run data recovery with Disk Drill and restore missing files right from the backup disk image.

#1 Launch Disk Drill

To get started backing up your Mac and taking a snapshot with all of the contents of your hard drive, start Disk Drill. Click "Backup" option from the upper menu and select "Backup into DMG image" option. Read the instructions offered by Disk Drill and follow its prompts to create a byte-to-byte disk image of a drive.

First choose the drive or partition to backup and then set the location to save backup file. Click "Save" and after backup is created use Disk Drill's "Attach Disk Image"
to mount the created DMG file.

  • Download Disk Drill

    Download Disk Drill

  • Drag to Applications Folder

    Drag to Applications Folder

  • Launch Disk Drill

    Launch Disk Drill

#2 Connect an External Drive

So connect a sufficiently large external hard drive to your computer (CDs, DVDs and flash drives are generally not large enough to hold all of the information stored on today's hard drives). In the "Save" dialog box, click on the black arrow on the upper-right, next to the hard drive name. You will now see a list of folders and disks. On the left side of the dialog box, click on the name of the external hard drive that you just connected, then click the Save button.

#3 Disk Image Backup for Mac

Once the copying process is complete, on your external drive you will have a large DMG file that has the name of your main hard drive. This Mac data backup DMG file is an exact copy of the data on your hard drive. Everything is included in this file, even live files and "empty" sectors that need data recovery in order to be read.

#4 Recover Data from Your Failing Disk

Now you can recover files from the copy you just made. The DMG file is treated by the computer as if it is a "real," physical disk. To mount the disk, either double-click the DMG file icon in the Finder, or use the "Attach non-mountable disk image" option in Disk Drill to select the DMG file. Once the new disk shows up in Disk Drill, you can click the "Recover" button next to its name and start the recovery process.

Disk Drill is a thorough scanner

Use Deep Scan feature for those times when there is hardly any file structure left. Disk Drill will scan through the raw data on your hard drive no matter if it is FAT, or NTFS, or something else. It will work file fragments into a single structure and will look for the binary signature of the lost files. Once Disk Drill recognizes a sought for file signature, XLS, DOC, AVI, MP4, JPG, and other formats recovery goes quite fast.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Disk Drill Team

How do I back up files on my Mac?

You can back up files on your Mac using Apple’s own built-in backup feature, called Time Machine:

  1. Connect a suitable backup drive to your Mac.
  2. Launch System Preferences and then click Time Machine.
  3. Click Select Backup Disk and pick your backup drive.

Keep in mind that the first backup can take a long time to create, especially if you have many files on your computer.

What is the best way to back up my Mac?

Here are the best ways to back up a Mac computer in 2021:

  1. Best automatic backup solution: Time Machine
  2. Best for byte-to-byte backups: Disk Drill Drive Backup
  3. Back cloud storage: iCloud
  4. Best open-source: Duplicati
  5. Best proprietary: Carbon Copy Cloner

How do I back up my Mac to an external drive?

You can back up your Mac to an external drive using Time Machine, a built-in backup feature that lets you automatically back up your personal data:

  1. Connect your external backup drive.
  2. Open the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
  3. Choose Time Machine.
  4. Click Select Backup Disk and add the external backup drive.
  5. Check the Back Up Automatically box and close the Time Machine window.

In fact, Time Machine only works with external drives (and shared network folders), connected using either USB or Thunderbolt.

Can you back up a Mac without an external hard drive?

Yes, you can back up your Mac without using an external hard drive. There are many backup tools, such as the byte-to-byte feature included for free in Disk Drill, that let you save your backup to any suitably large storage device. Alternatively, you can also use a cloud storage service like iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, or Google Drive.

Can I backup my Mac without using Time Machine?

Absolutely! You can, for example, use the byte-to-byte backup feature in Disk Drill:

  1. Launch Disk Drill.
  2. Select the Byte-to-byte Backup option from the left pane.
  3. Read the text and click “OK, let’s do it” if this is your first time launching the feature.
  4. Select the partition you would like to back up.
  5. Click the Create backup button and specify where you want to store the backup.

How long should a Mac backup take?

That depends entirely on the size and speed of your hard drive. If you have a Mac with a very large hard drive, then a full backup may take several hours, especially if the hard drive isn’t an SSD.

How do I manually back up my Mac?

There are many ways to manually back up a Mac, but it’s never a good idea to rely on just one backup method. Instead, you should combine several methods to achieve redundancy. Here’s an example of how you can do just that:

  • Create local backups of important files using Time Machine.
  • Use iCloud or some other cloud storage service for offsite backups.
  • From time to time, use Disk Drill’s backup feature to create a byte-to-byte backup of your system drive.

Secure your important data now!

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