How To Use Time Machine With Multiple Macs?

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Want to have a single-time machine backup for your multiple Mac devices? Here it is. A guide on how to set up multiple Macs to a hard drive for Time Machine backup.

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Apple’s built-in backup feature, Time Machine, makes taking backups extremely feasible. The Time Machine copies files, folders, and data, including system files, applications, and personal data from your MacBook or iMac. It stores them on any external storage device, such as an external hard drive.  In this way, you can restore your backup copies of files taken using the Time Machine if you ever lose or permanently delete files from your Mac. 

If you use multiple Mac systems for work or personal use and instead of using multiple external hard drives to take backup, you want to use a single drive to backup multiple Macs. Then, this article shows you how to backup multiple Macs on a single Time Machine drive. 

Backup Multiple Macs on a Single Time Machine

2 Methods to Backup Multiple Macs to a Time Machine

Method 1: Manually Backup Multiple Macs on a Single Time Machine

Backup of multiple Macs to a Time Machine drive can be done manually by connecting the Time Machine drive to one Mac and taking the backup, then connecting the drive to another Mac and again taking the backup using the Time Machine.

Here’s how you can take Time Machine backup from multiple Mac computers.

1: Connect the external Time Machine hard drive to one Mac, open the Time Machine preferences, and select the connected drive as your backup.

2: Click on the “Back up Now” option to start the backup. 

3: Once the backup is completed. Disconnect the drive and connect it to the other Mac system.

4: Open the Time Machine preferences on another Mac and select the same connected drive as your backup disk.

5: Click the “Back up Now” option to start the backup again. Once the backup is completed, disconnect the drive.

You have safely taken multiple Time Machine backups from different Macs on a single drive.

Method 2: Backup Multiple Macs on a Single Time Machine By Connecting the Shared Time Machine Disk Over a Network

First, connect the hard drive you want to act as a Time Machine focal point. This should be a desktop connected to your home network through Ethernet. Wi-Fi is also good, but the number of backup files moving across even the fastest and latest Wi-Fi will slow down other network connectivity.

Secondly, your external hard drives should be formatted accordingly for Time Machine. Here, ‘formatted accordingly for Time Machine’ means the hard drives or volumes should have Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) or Server Message Block (SBM) file service for network drive sharing.

Now, you have to configure Time Machine to utilize this external drive. For that, you have to enable file sharing on your Mac. In the system preference pane, open Sharing and checkmark ‘File Sharing.’ Now click the ‘Options’ tab and ensure that AFP or SBM is enabled.

Follow the below-mentioned steps on every Mac that you intend to back up to the target Mac external drive:

1: Open Finder, select Go, and then Network or hit Command + Shift + K.

2: In the Network window, double-click the Mac.

3: Enter the login ID and password from another Mac if prompted. If the information is already stored, a list of folders and drives will be displayed.

4: Now, to mount the Time Machine in the Finder, double-click on it.

5: Once the Time Machine preference pane opens, click ‘Select Backup Disk’ and select the network-mounted volume.

6: Repeat the same for other Machines as well.

Note: If one of your device is a MacBook Pro and you are facing trouble accessing the hard drive, don’t worry! It’s easy to recover data from a MacBook Pro hard drive with the help of third-party recovery software such as Remo Mac File Recovery Software. It is recommended to have multiple backups of a single hard drive.

If, in case, you don’t see the designated Mac in Step 2 as a server, you can use an alternative method. On the Mac you designated for Time Machine, Open the ‘Sharing’ preference pane, choose ‘File Sharing,’ and note what it says. It will be something like this:

Other users can access shared folders on this computer, and administrators all volumes at smb:// or afp://”

Now, on the other Mac, perform these steps in its place: steps 1& 2: 

  • Open Finder, select Go, then Connect to Server or hit Command-K.
  • In the ‘Server Address’ box, type smb:// or afp:// and hit Connect.

You can now perform steps 3 – 5. Once the Macs are connected, macOS will automatically create the required subfolders to keep the backup data separately on the external drive.

Note: In case you lose or accidentally delete your Time Machine Backups. Then follow this article to find out how to recover deleted Time Machine Backups from any Macs or storage devices.


Taking two-time Machine Backups on the same drive can be done manually or over a network. This updated step-by-step article explains how to take multiple Time Machine backups on one drive. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Time Machine backup all the profiles on Mac?

Yes, Time Machine will backup everything until you choose to exclude any users or folders.

How to access time machine backups from another Mac?

Use the Migration Assistant to transfer the data to another device and access your files on a different computer.

Can I change the backup intervals in Time Machine?

No, Time Machine performs backups hourly adapting to system activity. To change the backup frequency you would need third-party tools or Terminal commands.

About the Author: John Harris

With a decade of experience in data recovery, John Harris, Senior Editor at Remo Software, is your go-to specialist. His focus includes partition management, Windows solutions, and data troubleshooting, delivering insightful content that serves both users and search engines. John's expertise shines through in illuminating blog posts, untangling data loss intricacies across diverse storage platforms.…