Seagate Backup Plus Time Machine, the Smart Way to Backup

By Paul Gregory / August 13, 2019
Seagate Backup Plus Time Machine title image

You want to take a backup of your files to your Seagate Backup Plus with Time Machine.

Because it’s the smart thing to do.

Then if the worst happens you’ll have a copy.

Just in case you deleted or changed a file. And you want it back.

Or you upgraded your Mac and now you want everything you had on your old Mac on your new Mac.

Or a backup in case an operating system upgrade bricks your Mac and you need to go back to the old version.

If your Mac gets stolen. You’ll be devastated but at least you’ll have a copy of all you had on there.


Your Seagate Backup Plus v Time Machine

You might appreciate me spelling out the different things you need for a backup. Because it can be a touch confusing. Particularly if you’re not at all technical.

And the Seagate Backup Plus having Backup as part of its name doesn’t help.

To do a backup you’ll need three things.

1. The stuff you want to take a copy of.  – Your documents, photos, movies, music etc. Easy cause you have all that already on your Mac.

2. A place to put a copy of your stuff. A physical place. An external hard drive. Your Seagate Backup Plus.  The first two items aren’t complete without item number 3.

3. Software on your Mac, iMac or MacBook that does the backup. This software writes a copy of your files to your Seagate Backup Plus external hard drive.

And it’s the same software that reads the files when you need them back on your Mac.  On a Mac you call this software tool Time Machine. It’s provided by Apple as part of your Mac’s operating system.

Great news because there is nothing extra to buy.

One more thing, because you may have seen this in the marketing materials for the Backup Plus drive.

The Seagate Backup Plus has backup software too. Seagate includes some backup software with the portable drive. But this software only works on a Windows PC.

Time Machine is the software of choice on a Mac for backup.

Check Your Seagate Backup Plus is Large Enough to Hold Your Time Machine Backup

Say you have a 500GB internal drive on your Mac. Then for a Time Machine backup you’ll need at least that amount of space.

Really you should be looking at twice the space and buying yourself a 1TB Seagate Backup Plus. You’ll find out why a little later.

You may want to look at buying an even larger Backup Plus drive. If you know you’ll want to do different things with the drive.

You could split up a larger Seagate Backup Plus into something called partitions.

And say have 1TB set aside to do your Time Machine backup. And another 1TB to store your videos and movies on. As an example.

Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB Red

First Understand the Format a Seagate Backup Plus Needs for Mac Time Machine.

There are a few types of Backup Plus portable drives sold by Seagate Technology.

You can buy the Seagate Backup Plus Slim and Backup Plus Portable as HFS+ formatted.

What does that mean?

Your iMac or MacBook can read. And understand a Backup Plus that is HFS+ formatted straight away without any changes.

And Time Machine will only backup to a HFS+ drive.

Time Machine, NTFS and Your Seagate Backup Plus

You bought a Seagate Backup Plus Slim, Backup Plus Ultra Touch or Backup Plus Portable and it is NTFS formatted. Or ExFAT formatted?

Why is that important?

Your Mac cannot use NTFS or ExFAT formatted drives for a Time Machine backup. Not without reformatting it first to HFS+.

If you have a NTFS or ExFAT formatted external hard drive. Go over to my article “How to Format Seagate Backup Plus for Mac Help! Don’t Freak Out” to find out how.

Reformat and head back here afterwards.

How to use Time Machine With Seagate Backup Plus. 5 Steps.

1. Switch on and log into your iMac or MacBook.

Even if you have a fully charged MacBook battery, plug your Mac into external power. You really don’t want your Mac running out of power half way through your Time Machine backup.

Plus the Seagate Backup Plus uses your Mac’s power to work. And so uses your Mac’s battery even more.

2. Plug in your Seagate Backup Plus.

Have your adaptor to hand if you have a Mac with Thunderbolt ports.

Not sure what that is? Take a look at my How to Use Seagate Backup Plus article.

Be sure your Seagate Backup Plus is formatted as HFS+ (Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system). As Time Machine will only use a HFS+ formatted Backup Plus external drive.

You’ll likely find that your Mac spots your Seagate Backup Plus HFS+ drive is connected. And then asks you if you would like to use your Backup Plus drive with Time Machine.

At this point you have a choice. Say yes and have your whole Backup Plus drive used for Time Machine.

If you said yes, skip the next step because your Mac will find and start up Time Machine.

If you plan to partition up your Seagate Backup Plus then say no. Format and Partition the Backup Plus and then you can head back here.

You can jump over to my Seagate Backup Plus Formatting document to find out how using the link here. And if you also want to also Partition. After formatting you can learn how at this link on the site.

Or if your Mac hasn’t offered to use your Backup Plus with Time Machine.

Read on.

3. Fire up Time Machine.

You’ll find Time Machine though a spotlight search.

Spotlight Search Symbol
Spotlight Search Symbol

Click on the spotlight search magnifying glass at the top of your desktop.

Type System Preferences.

Spotlight Search System Preferences
Spotlight Search System Preferences

Next you double click to start System Preferences.

System Preferences may also be part of your Dock. If it is, then you can select System Preferences from there.

From the System Preferences popup window, double click on Time Machine.

Time Machine in System Preferences
Time Machine in System Preferences

4. Now you Setup Time Machine for your Backup Plus.

Seagate Backup Plus Time Machine Set Up Window
Seagate Backup Plus Time Machine Set Up Window

If this is your first time setting up Time Machine on your Mac you’ll need to turn Time Machine on. You’ll find a button slider that turns on Time Machine.

Slide that to ‘ON’.

Depending on your Mac’s operating system version you may have instead a check box to tick. This check box sets Time Machine to back up automatically.

And while you’re here also check the box to show Time Machine in the menu bar at the top of your desktop screen.

That’ll make it easier for you to check on the progress of your Time Machine backups.

Click on the Select Disk button.

5. Choose your Time Machine Backup Drive or Partition.

This next window shows you all available disk drives connected to your Mac that Time Machine can see. 

The list shows your useable drives under the ‘Available Disks’ heading.

Seagate Backup Plus Time Machine Choose Drive
Seagate Backup Plus Time Machine Choose Drive

Your Seagate Backup Plus will be on the list.

Or if you’ve created a partition on the Seagate Backup Plus drive to back up to. The partition name will be there.

Click on the Seagate Backup Plus drive.

Or partition on the Backup Plus drive if you have one.

Next you click on ‘Use Disk’

And you’re done. It is that simple.

Time Machine will use your Seagate Backup Plus portable drive for its backups. And this will happen whenever the drive connects to your Mac.

Kicking off a Seagate Backup Plus Time Machine Backup

To start a Time Machine backup straight away to your Seagate Backup Plus head to the top of your desktop.

There you click on the Time Machine symbol.

Time Machine At Top of Desktop
Time Machine At Top of Desktop

You’ll see a menu. And on the menu you can click on Backup Now.

Time Machine Backup Now
Time Machine Backup Now

Click on that and Time Machine will start preparing your backup.

If this is your very first backup to your Seagate Backup Plus then this preparation could take a while. Particularly if you have a lot of files to backup. The preparation and backup could take overnight.

Be patient.

Plug your Mac into a power socket and leave it to prepare the backup and then do the actual backup.

How Do I Know When My Seagate Backup is Complete?

There are a few ways to tell.

1. You can click on the Time Machine symbol at the top of the desktop.

Time Machine At Top of Desktop
Time Machine At Top of Desktop

You’ll see the number of GB’s backed up and how many there are to backup.

If your Backup is complete. You’ll find out the date and time of the last backup to your Seagate Backup Plus.

2. When your backup finishes, you’ll see the Seagate Backup Plus drive icon on the desktop turn to green.

Be sure to eject the Seagate Backup Plus drive from your Mac when your backup is done.

Right Click to Eject
Right Click to Eject

And store your Seagate Backup Plus away safely. After all it has a copy of your precious files on there.

What will Time Machine Backup to your Seagate Backup Plus?

Time Machine will back up everything.

Your Mac’s operating system, all your documents, all the Applications on your Mac. It will backup your photos and iTunes.

And if you sync your iPhone and iPad to iTunes then they will be not only backed up to your Mac. And they will be backed up to your Seagate Backup Plus as well.

Encrypting your Seagate Backup Plus Time Machine Backups

Time Machine will encrypt your backups for you should you want.

You can do this on the screen where you choose the drive to use as your backup drive.

On that screen there is another check box where you can select encryption for the backup.

Seagate Backup Time Machine Choose Drive Encrypt
Seagate Backup Time Machine Choose Drive Encrypt

It’s a check box at the bottom left corner of that screen.

Take Care!

These software features on a Mac are by design secure.

Even the FBI has problems accessing Mac data that’s encrypted and secured with a password. If you lose your password you will be in a word of trouble.

How does Time Machine work with a Seagate Backup Plus?

The Backup Schedule to your Backup Plus

As long as your Seagate Backup Plus is connected to your Mac. Time Machine will take a backup each hour for the first 24 hours.

Then daily backups for the next month.

After that it keeps weekly backups for as many months as there is room on your Seagate Backup Plus.

This is the reason why you should have a backup drive twice the size of all the files you’re backing up.

That way you can store several years of backups on your Seagate Backup Plus.

Or you can simply plug in your Seagate Backup Plus whenever you’re ready to take a backup. And choose the backup now option.

What is in each Time Machine Backup to your Backup Plus?

Your first Time Machine backup is a full backup of everything.

After that Time Machine backs up any changes you made to your Mac since the last back up.

This makes the next backup and the ones after that quicker to do.

This means the backup is incremental forever.

What does that mean?

Only your changes are backed up.

This is your changed files and new files. Time Machine keeps a record of the files you delete.

And should the worst happen to your Mac, Time Machine allows you to completely recreate your Mac.

And Time Machine is clever enough to know how to use your incremental backup. It’s used along with the original full backup to recreate everything on your Mac.

It’s the smart way to backup.

Last Words

And there you have it. All you need to connect your Seagate Backup Plus to Time Machine. And start off all your backups.

Go ahead. I know you can do it. Give it a try. You’ll find it easier than you think.

And please feel free to check out my other articles all about the Seagate Backup Plus.

Seagate Backup Plus NTFS Driver for Mac Uncertain You Need It

Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB Review Protect Your Family’s Docs

Seagate Expansion VS Backup Plus Who is on Top For Mac