By Ivy twitter / Last Updated December 29, 2020


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Necessity of Backup Mac to iCloud

Like Windows computer, Mac also need a copy of backup, because you may encounter common threats like Mac Scareware, Lamadai, Coin Thief, system or disk failure etc. To get rid of these unexpected things, you can backup your Mac to iCloud or simple create a local backup. Which one is best for you? Do you need both types of backup?

Speaking of best online backup for Mac, iCloud deserves it. This software is designed for all Apple product to backup important files on any Apple devices and prevent from local and nature disaster. In addition, you can backup entire Mac with built-in Time Machine, but the backup takes up local space and is easily affected by Mac. If you backup Mac to external hard drive, your backup may be damaged by disk failure or natural disaster, fire for instance.

In a simple word, cloud backup for Mac OS X and Macbook pro is the best choice when you want to backup data and ensure its security. But if you want to backup system, you’d better use Time Machine and save the backup on external disk. According to 321 backup strategy, the safest way is to backup Mac with iCloud and Time Machine both.

How to Backup Macbook laptop to iCloud?

Next, I’ll briefly introduce you the steps to backup your Mac. All steps are very similar and you can use it as a reference to backup various version of Mac laptop and desktop

To backup Macbook laptop to iCloud, use the following steps:

Step 1. Click the Apple menu at the upper left corner of screen and select “System Preferences”, then click “iCloud” in the next window.

Icloud Drive Mac

Step 2. Type your Apple ID and password to sign in iCloud if you are using iCloud for the first time. If not, you can skip to next step. During the process, you may need to choose from “Use iCloud for your documents and data” and “Use Find My Mac”, just select and click “Next”.

Step 3. Click “Options” at the right side of iCloud Drive, then uncheck the worthless app for you and click “Done”.

Icloud Drive Options

Step 4. To backup photos on mac to iCloud, tick “Options” at the right side of Photos and select “iCloud Photo Library”, “My Photo Stream” or “iCloud Photo Sharing”, then click “Done”.

Photos Options

Step 5. Finally, uncheck other options you don’t need and close the system preferences window, then your data will be automatically uploaded to iCloud and you can access from any device.


  • All the options in the iCloud are automatically checked by default, so you need to manually uncheck the options or apps you don’t need.

  • iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream will backup your photos, but both are different. The previous one will occupy the Apple iCloud storage while the last will not. If your budget is limited, the last one will be a great choice for you. Please remember it only keep your last 1000 photos for 30 days and will not upload videos.

Can I Backup My Entire Mac Computer to iCloud?

From above, you probably know iCloud does not backup entire system for Mac and Time Machine will do this. All you need is an external storage device, such as, external hard drive, USB flash drive, and more. In addition, this software will store local snapshots on disks with enough space to prevent disk failure.

To backup entire Mac computer with Time Machine:

Step 1. Connect external hard drive to your Macbook or iMac, and make sure it can be detected. Then, you may be asked if you want to use it with Time Machine, simply tick “Encrypt Backup Disk” and tap on “Use as Backup Disk”. If not, please go to system preferences and open “Time Machine”.

Use As Backup Disk

Step 3. Click “Select Backup Disk” (also called “Select Disk” or “Add or Remove Backup Disk” ) at the right panel, then tap on the connected disk and “Use Disk” in order.

Select Backup Disk

Step 4. Click “Show Time Machine in menu bar” to add a quick access on your Mac.

Step 5. Click “Options” at the lower right corner, and select “Back up while on battery power” and “Notify after old backups are deleted”.

Step 6. At last, tick “Back Up Automatically” and close this window. Then this software will start to backup your files hourly, daily, weekly.


  • If you want to manually backup system, you can directly click the Time Machine icon and select “Back Up Now”.

  • If you are using MacBook, the automatic backup require a power adapter connected.

FAQ: How to Manage iCloud Storage?

Every Apple ID only has 5GB space free of charge and it will run out in the near future. At this moment, you can try to manage the iCloud storage first and the last sort is to buy extra cloud storage.

#1: To manage iCloud storage, please go to “System Preferences” > “iCloud” > “iCloud Drive”, then click “Manage” at the lower right corner. Then, you will get the usage of cloud storage and turn off the data you no longer need.


#2: To disable “Desktop & Documents Folders” on Macs and save space of iCloud, go to “System Preferences” > “iCloud” > “iCloud Drive”, then click the “Options” button and uncheck this option.

#3: To disable iCloud Photo Library, go to “System Preferences” > “iCloud” > “Photos”, uncheck “iCloud Photo Library” and keep “My Photo Stream” as instead.

#4: To turn off backup from all iPhone, iPod, iPad, go to “Settings” > “Your Apple ID” > “iCloud” > “Backup”, then turn off “iCloud Backup” by clicking the button.

Turn Off Icloud Backup

#5: To get more space from iCloud, open “iCloud” from system preferences, click “Manage” and “Buy More Storage”, then follow the on-screen instructions.

Buy Extra Space

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Workaround: Backup Mac to Google Drive instead of iCloud

Compared with iCloud, Google Drive provide more free cloud storage and every user has 15GB space. If your iCloud Drive does not have enough space, you can use Google Drive as a replacement.

To backup mac to Google Drive, just follow the steps below:

Step 1. Download the latest version of Google Drive and sync Google Drive folder to your Mac.

Sync Gooogle Drive Folder

Step 2. Copy the data you want to backup on Mac and paste it to Google Drive folder. Then, it will automatically sync to web-site.

Copy Paste

Note: If you have multiple Google Drive accounts, you can use CBackup to combine cloud storage. All you need to do is connect your cloud disks and the service provider will take care of rest. Also, you can connect other cloud disks, such as, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive.

Final Thoughts

Backing up Mac to iCloud is a very common need for users who are using Mac desktop or laptop. If you don’t want to pay for iCloud storage, you’d better turn off iCloud Photo Library and Desktop & Documents Folders, because it occupies too much space on your iCloud. Also, you can use other cloud storage as alternative, such as, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and more.