How to Modify the Time Machine Backup Schedule for Mac

We live in the era where data is one of the most valuable possessions of a person. On the other hand, losing access to data can also happen easily today. You’ll never know when your hard drive is failing you or when you suddenly lose sight of that tiny microSD card that contains your project proposal.

That’s why regularly backing up your data is essential. Fortunately, Mac users have the Time Machine backup feature to back them up (pun intended). After it’s set up, the feature will do its job on the clock silently in the background without any user’s interference. The default setting is once every hour.

But there’s one problem. The backup process eats up a significant amount of system resources. This might influence the performance of other running apps and slow down everything, especially for those with an older system. And having your system slow down every hour for several minutes is no fun.

Unless you work with crucial data that needs to be backed up every hour, most daily users can live with less frequent backups and better system performance. How do you modify the backup frequency of Time Machine in Mac?

One thing is for sure: you can’t alter the backup frequency from within Time Machine’s System Preferences. The only available options are selecting the backup disk and selecting folders to exclude from the backups.

time-machine-mte-preferences

To change the backup frequency interval or create a more sophisticated scheduling, you need a little help from a free application called TimeMachineEditor. This app is compatible with Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and above.

After downloading and installing the app, open it, and you will see its main interface. The app provides you with three modes of operation: “Inactive,” “Interval,” and “Calendar Intervals.”

In the “Inactive” mode the tool will set your Time Machine to automatically run backups when you are not actively using your computer.

time-machine-mte-inactive

While in the “Interval” mode the setting is modified to operate at a set interval of time. The default one-hour interval backup time of Time Machine can be changed to longer or shorter depending on your needs.

time-machine-mte-interval

Both “Inactive” and “Interval” mode have the additional setting to disable the process within a set period. For example, you can turn off the process during your work hours. You can also disable the backup when your laptop is using battery power to conserve energy.

If you want to set a more sophisticated backup schedule based on various dates, times, weeks, months, etc., you need to go into “Calendar Intervals” mode.

time-machine-mte-calendar

Remember to set the app to “ON,” otherwise your modifications won’t take effect, and the default hourly backup settings will still be applied. There’s an “ON/OFF” button at the bottom-left of the app.

Using the Time Machine Editor, you don’t need to keep Time Machine running all the time. Other schedule modifications can also be done from the Time Machine Editor.

On the other hand, the process of preserving and discarding the backups is still handled by Time Machine since the Editor will only modify the schedule.

If you decide that the Time Machine Editor is not for you and want to delete the application, please make sure that you’ve already turned the switch to “OFF” before trashing the app.

If you have already deleted the app before turning it off, you might experience some conflicts with your backup process. Fortunately, fixing the problem is easy. Just re-install the app, turn the switch to “OFF,” and delete the app again.

Do you use Time Machine to back up your system? What do you think about Time Machine Editor? Or do you use another app to modify the backup schedule? Share your preferred app in the comments below.

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