Configure Time Machine in Snow Leopard

Time Machine is a backup feature in Snow Leopard that backups up your computer each hour. Once you set it up, you no longer need to worry about an on-site solution for backing up your important files, such as music, documents, photos and movies. You can set it up to run on an external drive or a network drive, and if a file is every needed, you can go back by date to recover it through the Time Machine interface. In addition to your Time Machine backup, you should also use an off-site solution, as well, such as Carbonite or Mozy.

How To Configure Time Machine

To begin the setup, choose Apple menu > System Preferences and then click Time Machine.

time machine setup

  1. Open Time Machine preferences, then slide the switch to On if Time Machine is off.
  2. Click Select Backup Disk (or click Change Disk if you’ve already set up Time Machine).
  3. Select a disk where backups will be stored, and then click “Use for Backup.”

Every disk you see can be used to store your backups. If the disk is already partitioned, you should see it listed. Time Machine can’t back up to an external disk connected to an AirPort Extreme or disk formatted for Windows. So if you have an NTFS or FAT formatted disk, Time Machine will prompt you to reformat the disk in the Mac OS Extended format. This will delete everything that’s already on the disk, so be sure to backup anything important to another location.

The initial backup will take quite a while, but the ensuing jobs will only backup files that have changed.The jobs are performed in the background as you work, and they do not slow down your system. To retrieve a backup, click the Time Machine icon in your dock. Time machine will connect with your storage device and you will be presented with a swirling vortex interface showing your backups.

time machine backup

Your backups are stored by date, so you can browse the entire system as it appeared on the date you select and recover individual files, whole folders, or your entire system.

You can purchase large external hard drives and partition them in half (recommended) or allow Time machine to consume all of the capacity. If you partition the drive in half, you can format one side for Windows-compatible machines and devote the other half to Time Machine.