There are two kinds of people in the world: those who have a regular backup system—and those who will.
You’ll get that grisly joke immediately if you’ve ever known the pain that comes with deleting the wrong folder by accident, or making changes that you regret, or worst of all, having your hard drive die. All those photos, all that music you’ve bought online, all your email—gone.
Yet the odds are overwhelming that at this moment, you do not have a complete, current, automated backup of your Mac. Despite about a thousand warnings, articles, and cautionary tales a year, guess how many do? About four percent. Everybody else is flying without a net.
If you don’t have much to back up—you don’t have much in the way of photos, music, or movies—you can get by with using a free online backup system like iCloud Drive, Dropbox, or CrashPlan. But those methods leave most of your Mac unprotected: all your programs and settings.
What you really want, of course, is a backup that’s rock-solid, complete, and automatic. You don’t want to have to remember to do a backup, to insert a disc, and so on. You just want to know you’re safe.
That’s the idea behind Time Machine, a marquee feature of OS X. It’s a silent, set-it-and-forget-it piece of peace of mind. You sleep easy, knowing there’s a safety copy of your entire system: your system files, programs, settings, music, pictures, videos, document files—everything. If your luck runs out, you’ll be so happy you set up Time Machine.