How to Back Up a Mac HD to a USB Memory Key
By Julius Vandersteen
If you keep important files on your Mac’s hard drive, it’s prudent to assume that eventually the hard drive will fail, or that you will accidentally delete a file. You can avoid losing data by backing up files on a regular basis. For added safety, you can back up files on a small USB memory key, or drive, and store it in a separate location, such as in a safe deposit box at the bank. You can also use a USB drive to transfer backed-up files between your work and home computer.
Back Up Manually
Get a USB memory drive with sufficient capacity to back up your most crucial files, if not your entire hard drive. A USB memory drive can be purchased at most retail and electronics stores.
Plug the USB memory drive into a USB port on the Mac. The drive will mount on the desktop, appearing as a disk drive.
Drag files and folders from the hard drive to the USB drive to back them up manually.
Drag the USB drive on the desktop into the "Trash" icon on the Dock to close the close out the connection between the computer and the USB drive. Unplug the USB drive from the computer and store it in a safe place.
Back Up Automatically (Time Machine)
Launch Apple’s native “Time Machine” utility if you want to back up files automatically. You will need a USB memory drive with as much capacity as the hard drive you want to back up.
Plug the USB memory drive into the computer.
Click “Select Backup Disk” and then select the USB drive as your backup location. Time Machine will start backing up your hard drive. Once it has finished the initial backup, it will keep track of your files and back them up every hour.
Drag the USB image on the desktop into the "Trash" icon on the Dock to close the close out the connection between the USB drive and the computer. Unplug the USB drive from the computer and store it in a safe place.
Back Up Automatically (Alternative Programs)
Download a free file backup application such as Carbon Copy Cloner, SilverKeeper or PsyncX (see Resources) to perform automated backups of only a portion of your hard drive to a USB memory drive. You may only want to back up your documents folder, for example, and don’t have enough room on the USB drive to back up your entire hard drive using Time Machine.
Plug the USB memory drive into your computer.
Launch the application, select what folders or files to back up and designate the USB memory drive as the backup location.
Drag the USB image on the desktop into the "Trash" icon on the Dock to close the close out the connection to the drive after the backup is complete. Unplug the USB drive from the computer and store it in a safe place.
Julius Vandersteen has been a freelance writer since 1999. His work has appeared in “The Los Angeles Times,” “Wired” and “S.F. Weekly.” Vandersteen has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Francisco State University.