Multiple Macs Back Up On a Single Time Machine

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.

First connect the hard drive that you want to act a Time Machine focal point. This should preferably 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 check mark ‘File Sharing’. Now click ‘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 target Mac external drive:

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

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

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

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

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

Step 6: Repeat the same for other Machines as well.

Note: If one of your device is a MacBook Pro and facing trouble in accessing the hard drive, don’t worry! It’s easy to recover data from MacBook Pro hard drive with the help of a third-party 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 which you designated for Time Machine, Open ‘Sharing’ preference pane, choose ‘File Sharing’ and make a note of 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, then select Go and 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.

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John Harris

Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.

As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.

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