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With the news that Apple has officially discontinued its AirPort lineup, many users will look to backing up their Macs with something other than Apple’s Time Capsule or AirPort Extreme with a connected external drive. Follow along for how to back up a Mac to Time Machine with any hard drive.

Apple’s AirPort products go all the way back to 1999, with its first gen Time Capsule launching almost a decade later in 2008. The most recent AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule models were released back in 2013. Now, all remaining AirPort products will be sold while supplies last. For more on Apple’s discontinuation and some great alternatives, check out our coverage here.

If you’ve been using a Time Capsule or just want to back up your Mac on a fresh drive, read on.

How to backup a Mac to Time Machine with any hard drive

Plug in your external hard drive to your Mac

Your backup will begin automatically

How Time Machine works and detailed walkthrough

Once Time Machine is configured properly, your Mac will backup hourly for the past 24 hours, daily for the past month and will save a weekly backup for all previous months to an external hard drive or external SSD (solid state drive). You can use most external hard drives, but it will need to be formatted for macOS if it didn’t come that way from the manufacturer.

The only reasons your Time Machine automatic backups will stop is if you turn the feature off manually, eject/unplug your external hard drive, or turn off your computer. If you turn your machine off regularly or use a MacBook, your backups will continue automatically when you plug your external drive back in and your Mac is on.

The beautiful part about Time Machine is that it will keep backing up your new information even if your drive fills up, in which case it will delete the oldest backups.

Here’s how to set up an automatic backup with Time Machine on your Mac with an external hard drive:

You’ll notice in the middle area of the Time Machine window that your backup will start automatically. The Back Up Automatically box will be checked by default.

You can also check the Show Time Machine in menu bar at the bottom of the Time Machine window to have quick access and control to Time Machines settings and info. You can choose to Back Up Now if you don’t want to wait for the next scheduled one to occur.

You may also notice if you are using a MacBook that the automatic backup may not start until you plug in your power adapter.

Once your backup has started you’ll see the details of your backup and a time estimate (take the estimate with a big grain of salt. This backup estimated 14-19 minutes, but it ended up actually taking two hours).

For more help getting the most out of your Apple devices, check out our how to guide as well as the following articles:

Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

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How To Format An External Hard Drive For Mac

Last Updated on December 5, 2023

We’ve all been there, you’ve filled the storage space on your laptop, and need more, so you buy a nice shiny new external hard drive for some extra storage, but what if it’s not compatible with macOS?

Not to worry! In this article, we’ll be showing you how to format an external hard drive for a mac, so that you can get some much-needed extra storage, without having to fork out for a brand new laptop!

What Is An External Hard Drive?

External hard drives are essentially free storage space when it comes to using any laptop or mac in this case.

External drives are different from regular hard drives because their use is intended for external usage. Which just means anything that’s not actually inside of the computer or any other device you’re using.

This means they’re best used in situations like this, where you just need some added storage. First, though, you’ll just need to be able to reformat your external hard drive.

Which Format Should I Use?

When it comes to formatting an external hard drive, the most difficult part of the process is choosing the file format that you want to use with your external hard drive.

This differs from person to person, but the file format that you choose is going to largely depend on what operating systems you’ll be using the most.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the file formats that might be right for you.

Mac OS Extended

If you want something that’ll work really well with your mac, then mac OS extended is going to be your best choice straight out of the gate. It’s the default file format for Mac OS Sierra or anything before, and that’s because it runs great on all macs.

The downside of this file format is that it won’t work for Windows or Linux, so if you’re using any other operating systems this one is best missed.


Introduced as the newer version of Mac OS extended, APFS is all about speed and compatibility with other similar operating systems.

In saying that, this won’t be compatible with Windows, Linux, or any MacOS before High Sierra, so your options are limited. But if you have a mac with high sierra or later, then this is a great choice if speed is of importance to you.


FAT32 is a default file format for many due to its compatibility. It’ll work across Windows, Mac and Linux, so you’ll be able to transfer files with ease.

Its only drawback is that its filing system is limited to 4GB, so you’ll find yourself running out of storage space incredibly quickly.


How To Format An External Hard Drive To Mac

It’s worth noting that reformatting a drive will always delete everything you have on it, so make sure to transfer any files you need before you start this.



Connect External Hard Drive To Mac

First, connect your external hard drive to your mac.



Open Disk Utility

Open disk utility, you can search for this by using spotlight (command+space)



Select External Hard Drive

Select the external hard drive from the subheading on the left hand side.



Erase Button

Hit the erase button



Rename The Drive

Enter the name of the drive and rename it to whatever you’d like





And You’re Done

You’re all done! After this you should be ready to use your external hard drive.

Final Thoughts

It’s as simple as that, make sure you understand what file format you’ll be selecting before you begin reformatting your hard drive, but otherwise, if you follow these steps you’ll have your external hard drive working in no time!

How To Restore Your Mac From A Backup

You may have probably heard this a million times: backup your Mac! Doing so allows you to restore all your data, including apps and settings, the moment your device crashes or when you accidentally delete them. But how do you restore a Mac from backup?

Below I’ll discuss different ways to restore your Mac from a backup. Of course, it’s assumed that you’ve got your Mac backed up to begin with. Let’s get going!

How to restore Mac from a Time Machine backup

If Time Machine is your preferred way to back up your Mac, you have the option to restore your entire hard drive to a previous date or just opt to restore a few files. You can also use Time Machine to transfer all your personal files from an old Mac to a new Mac using Migration Assistant.

Since you won’t be able to open your browser once you begin, be sure to keep these instructions handy by opening this page from another device or printing it. Also, ensure that the Time Machine backup disk is connected to your device and turned on. 

The process varies depending on the kind of Mac you own. But generally, you’ll need to start your Mac in Recovery mode to begin the restoration process.

If you own an Apple silicon:

To restore your Intel-based Mac to a previous date:

Get back specific files with Time Machine on Mac

You can also use Time Machine to get back items you’ve accidentally lost or to recover old versions of your files.

Use Migration Assistant to restore Time Machine backup on a new Mac

Retrieve backed-up data from iCloud or other cloud services on Mac

Before you can restore your Mac using iCloud, you must set it up. To do so:

By default, you’re only given 5GB of space, which is likely not enough, especially if you’re using iCloud on several devices. You can always upgrade your iCloud to iCloud+ on any of your Apple devices. Apple offers up to 2terabytes of iCloud space for users.

Note: Unlike Time Machine, an iCloud backup only backs up specific files and data and doesn’t cover all settings, data, and programs stored in your Mac.

You can always go to your iCloud Drive via the left-side pane on Finder to access your files when needed. Alternatively, you can go to chúng tôi to access your backup files.

There are also plenty of cloud services that let you back up your Mac. Some of these services even include your Time Machine backups on the cloud. Examples of cloud services for Macs are Backblaze and Cloudberry. If you’re interested in exploring your options, we’ve written a comprehensive article on Cloudberry backup for Mac.

How to restore your Mac from a local backup (clone)

You can also create a clone or a bootable copy of your Mac’s entire hard drive. Once your external drive already has the clone of your Mac, here’s what you need to do to restore it:

Wrapping up…  

You’ve got plenty of options for restoring your Mac from a backup, depending on what you need to restore. You can choose from Time Machine to iCloud to using third-party apps and cloud services to restore your backup.

But what’s most crucial is that you regularly back up your Mac. After all, there’s nothing to restore if no backed-up data exists! Have you restored your Mac from a backup? Which method worked well for you? Comment it down below!

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Rachel loves anything Apple —from iPhones, to Apple Watches, to MacBooks. She is also a medical writer and a ghostwriter for various publications.

How To Migrate Windows 10 To A New Hard Drive

 If you’ve just upgraded your PC and want to migrate Windows 10 to a new hard drive, you’ll have to consider your options. This is a job that beginners might struggle with, but it doesn’t have to be—you just need to figure out how you’re going to move your files from A to B and ensure Windows will boot from your new drive.

There are a few ways you can do this. You could create a new system image to migrate from one drive of equal size to another. Alternatively, you could consider cloning your hard drive to copy your installation, especially if your drives are different sizes. Here’s what you’ll need to do to begin the process.

Table of Contents

Before You Move Windows 10 to a New Hard Drive

Before you consider a transfer of Windows 10 to a new hard drive, you should consider backing up your essential files, independently of any new system image you create. 

While this process shouldn’t have an impact on your original drive and files, you may cause data loss if you accidentally overwrite your initial drive in the process. To be sure that your data is safe, you should always perform an independent backup of your files using portable media (such as a USB drive) or online cloud storage.

Once you’ve backed up your essential files, you’ll have two options to consider. The process to move Windows 10 to a new hard drive depends on if you’re moving to a drive of equivalent or larger size or if the drive is smaller, as the process will vary.

However, if you’re moving to a drive that’s smaller than the original, you won’t be able to use this method, as Windows will show an error during the re-imaging process. Instead, you’ll need to transfer Windows 10 to a new hard drive using third-party tools that will allow you to copy the files successfully to the smaller drive.

Create a New System Image to Migrate Windows to Drives of Equivalent or Larger Size

If you want to migrate Windows 10 to an equivalently-sized or larger hard drive than the original, the best method is to use Windows’ own system imaging tool. This will allow you to copy your original drive exactly to your new drive.

It’s important to stress that this method only works if you’re using a drive of equivalent or larger size. If it’s smaller, you’ll need to follow the steps below to use a third-party tool instead.

In the older Control Panel window, select the Create a system image option, visible in the left-hand menu. Make sure to connect an external drive (such as an external USB hard drive) at this point, unless you plan on using a network location to store your system image (such as a network attached storage device).

A new Create a system image menu will open and automatically begin scanning for a suitable external drive or network location to store the system image. If you’re using a portable hard drive, select this from the On a hard disk drop-down menu. If you’re using a network storage location, choose the On a network location option, then select a suitable location on your network to store the file. Select Next to continue.

Windows will confirm the partitions on your drive that will be copied to the new system image. Select Start backup to begin.

Allow the system image creation process to finish. Once completed, Windows will ask you if you want to create a new system repair disk. It may be a good idea to do this, especially if you manage to corrupt your MBR or GPT boot files in the process. However, you can select either Yes or No to proceed.

After creating the new system image, you’re ready to use it on your new drive. At this stage, connect your new hard drive to your PC and remove the existing hard drive. You could also leave your existing hard drive in place and format it, allowing you to repurpose it as a secondary storage drive.

Use a System Image to Move Windows to a New Hard Drive

With a new system image of your existing drive ready, you can use the image to create a complete copy of your Windows installation on a new hard drive. As we’ve mentioned previously, you can only do this if the new drive is the same size or larger than the previous system drive.

To begin, insert your Windows installation media using a portable USB memory stick or DVD. Once inserted, boot your PC and ensure that your BIOS or UEFI settings prioritize that drive over any other drives. Once the Windows installation menu appears, select Next, then select Repair your computer in the bottom left corner.

Windows should automatically detect the system image on your external hard drive in the Re-image your computer menu. If it doesn’t, select the Select a system image option to locate it manually. Otherwise, leave the Use the latest available system image (recommended) option selected, then select Next to continue.

Using the new system image, your new hard drive will be formatted with the same partitions as the previous drive. If you want to exclude any partitions first, select Exclude disks and uncheck them. Otherwise, select Next to continue.

If you’ve copied your files to a new drive of the same size, you won’t need to do anything else at this stage—Windows will boot as normal, and you can resume using your PC. If you’ve cloned your drive to a larger sized drive, however, you may need to take additional steps to utilize the additional space.

Resize the System Partition After Using a System Image

A system image clones your drive entirely, recreating all available partitions on the previous drive to the exact sizes as the original partitions. If you’ve used a system image to move Windows to a larger hard drive, you’ll need to resize the system partition (C:) to utilize all of the available space on the new drive.

In the Extend Volume Wizard menu, select Next, then ensure that the amount of additional space (equivalent to the figure in the Maximum available space in MB box) is selected in the Select the amount of space in MB box. Select Next to continue.

Confirm that the details are correct, then select Finish to complete the process.

After a few moments, your system partition will be expanded to include the additional space on your drive, ensuring that all available drive space is usable.

Transfer Windows 10 to a Different Sized Hard Drive Using Third-Party Software

Using a new system image to clone your hard drive is still the best way to migrate Windows 10 to a new hard drive. Unfortunately, as this process doesn’t work if you’re moving from a larger to smaller drive, you’ll need to use third-party software to copy Windows instead.

Various tools exist for this method, but one good (and free) option is to use Macrium Reflect Free. The free version of Macrium Reflect allows you to clone your Windows installation from a larger to a smaller drive, resizing the partition table in the process. You can also use this to clone Windows to a larger driver if you’d prefer.

Before you follow these steps, make sure that both your existing hard drive and new hard drive are connected to your PC and are detectable in Windows.

To begin, download and install the Home Use version of Macrium Reflect Free from the Macrium Reflect website. Once installed, run the software and make sure that the checkbox next to the disk containing your system partition (C:) is selected. Once selected, select the Clone this disk option below it.

In the Clone menu, select your new (smaller) drive by selecting the Select a disk to clone to option in the Destination section.

With the new disk selected, you’ll need to delete any existing partitions on the drive by first selecting them in the Destination category, then selecting the Delete Existing partition option to remove them.

With any existing partitions on your new drive removed, drag and drop each of the partitions on your drive (excluding the system C: partition) from the Source category to the Destination category. Leaving your system partition (C:) last, drag and drop that partition onto the Destination category.

Macrium Reflect will automatically resize your system partition to use up the remaining space on your new drive if your new drive is smaller than the original. If you’d like to change the size of your C: partition (or you’re using a larger drive, so wish to resize it to use up the additional space), select it in the Destination category first, then select the Cloned Partition Properties option.

In the Partition Properties menu, resize your partition using the Partition Size box. If you’re using a larger drive, make sure that the Free Space box reaches 0 MB to ensure you’re utilizing all available space. Select OK to confirm the change.

Select Finish to confirm your cloning options.

Leave the options intact in the Backup Save Options menu that appears next, then select OK to confirm.

Macrium will need permission to delete existing partitions and begin the cloning process. Select the available checkbox in the Confirm Overwrite menu, then select Continue to proceed. Allow some time for the cloning process to finish. 

Once completed, your existing hard drive containing your Windows installation and all other files will be cloned to your new drive. You can shut down your PC and remove your previous hard drive at this stage, or use Disk Management to format and repurpose it instead.

Final Steps

Whether you’re using a Windows 10 system image to move to a new drive of the same size, or using third-party software like Macrium Reflect to clone it instead, you’ll be ready to boot up and use your new drive without any further steps. You may need to resize your system partition if the drive is bigger than the original, however.

Fix Common Problems With Macos Time Machine

Time Machine is a great, convenient backup tool, but it doesn’t always work perfectly. Fortunately, the most common problems have relatively straight-forward solutions. Here are some fixes for common problems with macOS Time Machine.

Time Machine won’t back up

After updating to Sierra or High Sierra, some users find that Time Machine simply won’t back up. Fixing the problem requires an SMC reset and a PRAM reset.

SMC Reset

1. Shut down your Mac.

2. If you can remove the battery or disconnect the power cable, do that. Wait ten seconds before proceeding.

3. If you cannot disconnect the power, use a keystroke instead. After your Mac shuts down, press Shift + Control + Option on the left side of the built-in keyboard, then press the Power button at the same time. Hold these keys and the power button for ten seconds.

4. Plug the power cable back in or replace the battery if you removed it.

PRAM Reset

1. Turn on the computer.

2. Press and hold Command + Option + P + R. Continue holding the keys down until the computer restarts again and you hear the startup chime twice.

3. Continue booting as normal.

Drive is read-only

If your drive’s permissions have been damaged, you will often be prevented from writing to the disk. To address this problem, you can try to repair the problems with the disk. The simplest method requires diskutil in Terminal. Keep in mind that this can be a result of early problems with the disk itself. It might indicate that there’s a problem with the drive. You may need to consider replacing the drive if this problem appears more than once.

1. Open Terminal from “Applications/Utilities/” or type “Terminal” into Spotlight.

2. List the attached disks by typing diskutil list.

3. Locate the partition used for Time Machine. Find the device and disk number, formatted like disk1s5, as in our example.

4. Verify the volume by typing diskutil verifyVolume [volume name]. In our example we would use diskutil verifyVolume /dev/disk1s5.

5. If you find any errors, run disktuil repairVolume [volume name].

Time Machine hangs on “Preparing Backup”

One of the most common bugs in Time Machine involves hanging on the beginning of the backup process.

If the Time Machine process is starting or appears to be lagging, open the Time Machine preference pane in System Preferences.

Look for the text underneath the Time Machine progress bar.

If the backup is progressing properly, it should show the number of items remaining to be processed. That number should be steadily, if slowly, increasing. If you don’t see that number increase over 30 minutes, you’ll need to take action.

Troubleshooting the Problem

1. Uncheck the box next to “Back Up Automatically” in the Time Machine preference window. This will disable Time Machine and stop any backup processes.

2. Make sure Spotlight is not indexing your backup by adding your Time Machine volume to the Privacy pane of the Spotlight preferences window in System Preferences.

3. Find and remove the “.inProgress” folder. You’ll find that folder in the “Backups.backupdb” folder on your Time Machine drive. It will have a name like 2024-05-04-175540.inProgress. When you find that folder, delete it.

4. Turn Time Machine back on.


Time Machine is extremely convenient, but it can be a troublesome backup tool. While it has become more reliable since its introduction, problems still occur. Time Machine shouldn’t be your only backup tool, but it is useful as part of your backup process.

Alexander Fox

Alexander Fox is a tech and science writer based in Philadelphia, PA with one cat, three Macs and more USB cables than he could ever use.

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How To Format Hard Drive Using Settings On Windows 10

On Windows 10, it’s recommended to format a hard drive to erase its current data and make sure to set up a supported file system that the operating system can understand to read and write data. Also, using the “Format” feature can help to delete all your personal data when you’re planning to get rid of the drive, so someone else doesn’t have easy access to your files.

In the past, you needed to use the Disk Management tool, Command Prompt, or PowerShell to format hard drive, but since build 20237, Windows 10 has a new experience built into the Storage settings to manage drives and partitions more easily.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to format a hard drive (internal or external) using the “Manage Disks and Volumes” settings available on Windows 10.

Format hard drive on Windows 10

To format a hard drive using the Manage Disks and Volumes settings, use these steps:

Important: The format process will delete everything on the drive. As a result, it’s recommended to backup any important data before proceeding.

Select the hard drive with the partition you want to format.

Select the partition.

In the “Label” field specify a name that you want to appear for the hard drive in File Explorer.

Use the “File System” drop-down menu and select the NTFS option.

Quick tip: If you’re formatting a flash drive that you’ll be using in different operating systems, you may want to consider using the exFAT file system.

Use the default select for Allocation Unit Size.

(Optional) Clear the Perform a quick format option to perform a full format. However, depending on the size of the hard drive, it could take a long time to complete. Usually, you may want to use this option if you’re decommissioning the storage device.

(Optional) Check the Enable file and folder compression if you want to save space as you store files. Using this option may slightly affect performance of the drive, since a compression and decompression process will occur as you use the storage.

Once you complete the steps, the partition of the hard drive will be formatted. You won’t see any visuals showing the formatting progress, but the “Format” button will be grayed out until the process completes.

Format hard drive without partition on Windows 10

If the storage device doesn’t have a partition, you’ll need to create a new partition and then format the drive.

To create and format an external or internal hard drive, use these steps:

Open Settings.

Select the hard drive you want to format.

Select the Unallocated space.

In the “Label” field specify a name that you want to appear for the hard drive.

Use the Drive Letter drop-down menu to assign a letter for the drive.

Use the “File System” drop-down menu and select the NTFS option.

(Optional) In the “Size” field specify the size of the partition in megabytes. If you’re planning to have one partition to store data, you don’t need to modify this option.

(Optional) In the “Folder Path to Mount in” field specify the path to a folder where you want to mount the drive. (This is an uncommon option for regular users.)

Use the default select for Allocation Unit Size.

(Optional) Clear the Perform a quick format option to perform a full format, but depending on the size of the hard drive, it could take a long time to complete.

(Optional) Check the Enable file and folder compression if you want to save space as you store files. Using this option may slightly affect performance of the drive, since a compression and decompression process will occur as you use the storage.

After you complete the steps, the new partition will be created and formatted with the file system you specified. Once the process is complete, you can start storing files using File Explorer.

The process may take some time to complete. You won’t see any progress visuals, but you’ll receive a notifications when the format is complete, and the drive will appear in File Explorer.

If you don’t see the Manage Disks and Volumes settings, it’s likely because you’re not running the version of Windows 10 that includes this feature. At the time of this writing, the feature is available with build 20237 and higher releases.

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