Lesson: Create a Time Machine backup server

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to:

  • Add additional storage for Time Machine service

  • Configure a Time Machine server to use your additional storage

  • Configure your client machines to back up to the Time Machine server

Step 1. Plug the USB disk into the server

  • Use Disk Utility to format the USB hard disk for use with a Mac (“OS X Extended (Journaled)”), if needed.

    An illustration of a USB drive plugged in to a server

    Although USB disks are the most common external disks, you can use any other external disk that can connect to your server, like FireWire or Thunderbolt disks.

Step 2. Set up Time Machine service

  • Open the Server app to see the list of services available in OS X Server. Select Time Machine, then click the Add button add to add a destination.

    A screen shot of the Time Machine pane of Server app, not configured.

    Select the USB disk, then create a new folder on it called “Storage.” Click Choose.

Step 3. Turn on the service

  • Click the button to turn on Time Machine service.

    Time Machine service on switch

Step 4. Set up Time Machine preferences on the client

  • On the client Mac, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Time Machine. Click Select Disk, then choose Storage in the list of available disks. Click Use Disk, then turn on Time Machine.

    A screen shot of the Time Machine System Preference pane, open to the available disk list.

Step 5. Test your configuration

After the client Mac completes its first backup, you can check the server and make sure everything is working as expected.

  • Open the Server app, click Time Machine, then click Backups. You should see the name of the client Mac on the list.


You’ve learned how to set up a Time Machine server to keep the backups for clients on your network.

Where to go from here

There are a few more help topics for Time Machine in Server Help.