How To Partition External Hard Drive for Time Machine

Creating a separate partition for time machine on the external hard drive is probably the best approach to secure data.

time machine

Does Mac Time Machine require an external hard drive? This is the most likely question that might hit several minds. Time Machine requires a storage device for backups, so an external hard drive is the most widely used device in this regard. In fact, it’d be more effective if you create an exclusive partition for Time Machine on hard drive.

Part 1. What Is Time Machine and How It Works

What Is Time Machine?

Time Machine is the built-in backup tool of Mac that is mainly used to back up all the files of your Mac device (excluding macOS installation files) so that you can recover your files any time via Time Machine backup even if specific files get deleted from your Mac.

Supported Configurations

To proceed with the Backup process via Time Machine, you need to have a specific storage medium officially supported by Time Machine. Such as:

  • A dedicated folder on any other Mac device connected to the same network.
  • A volume or Storage drive connected to a Mac computer directly via USB or Thunderbolt and formatted as Journaled HFS+ or APFS. (You may need to format the drive in case of any connectivity issues.)
  • Any storage drive shared by Apple Time Capsule connected to the same network.
  • A storage drive connected to Apple AirPort Extreme 802.11ac model on the same network.
  • Any local network volume connected with Apple Filling Protocol or SMB3 share.

Note: Before initiating the Machine Time backup process, you must ensure that you have set up your external drive with the Time Machine.

How does the Time Machine Works?

If you use a mac, you might be familiar with the working mechanism of the Time Machine. Still, here we have uncovered a few more facts about the Time Machine working process.

Does Time Machine always perform a full backup?

Generally, the Time Machine backups all the files or data except the installation files of macOS, but this is the case of the first-time backup process. Afterward, Time Machine will only back up the new files added to the system or any other change you made recently.

What is the frequency of Time Machine backups?

Time Machine automatically perform backups on an hourly, daily & weekly basis as per your scheduled time if it is turned on. However, you can also perform a manual backup via Time Machine anytime. 

Will Time Machine remove previous backups?

The Time Machine doesn’t require removing the previous backups as long as enough storage space is left on an external hard drive for new backups. Suppose the backups folder on an external hard drive gets full; then the Time Machine will delete the oldest backups in order to save recent backups.

Note that the Machine Time backup might require some time to get complete. However, if you want to use any other fast, reliable way to back up your Mac data, you can readily opt for Wondershare UBackit; it is one the fastest & most efficient backup tools that help to recover lost data, too.

Part 2. How To Partition External Hard Drive for Time Machine

Although you can use the external hard drive for Time machine backups without partitioning, still it’s always a good approach either to use an entire external hard drive solely for Time Machine or create a separate partition for Time Machine backups. In case you want to use it for storage purposes also, then you should partition it to overcome the risk of data loss. Because if you encrypt your backups, you might lose the other data stored on the same external hard drive. Therefore, here we have thoroughly explained the operational steps to partition external hard drive for Time Machine.

Operational Steps:

Step 1: Firstly, turn off the Time Machine by accessing it in System Preferences.

turn off time machine

Step 2: Then, connect the external hard drive to your Mac device.

connect hard drive to mac

Step 3: Launch the Spotlight Search using Cmd + Space keys.

Step 4: Search the Disk Utility in Spotlight and open it.

disk utility in spotlight search

Step 5: In the Disk Utility window, select the external hard drive you intend to use for Time Machine and click on the Partition button located in the toolbar.

select time machine drive

Step 6: Create a new partition by clicking on the + button.

partition external hard drive

Step 7: You can resize the partition as per your requirement by moving the slider. Make sure to create a partition of enough storage capacity (ideally 2-3 times more than the mac data) so that it can work smoothly with the Time Machine Backup mechanism.

resize the partition

Step 8: Give a specific name to the newly created partition to identify it later on.

set partition name

Step 9: Click the Partition button to confirm the changes.

confirm partition creation

In case if you can’t create a partition on your external Hard drive, then you need to follow the below stated steps:

Step 1: Select your external hard drive in the sidebar of Disk Utility.

select external hard drive

Step 2: Click on the Erased button located in the toolbar to format the external hard drive.

format drive on mac

Step 3: Select the Drive Partition name and choose macOS Extended (Journaled) format.

format partition as mac os extended journaled

Once the drive is formatted successfully, you can create a new partition by following the above-stated operational steps.

Free Download

For Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10/11

Free Download

For macOS X 10.10 or later

Part 3. How To Recover Lost Files From External Hard Drive

In the Time Machine backup process, most of the time, you’re at risk of losing other important data stored on the external hard drive. Unfortunately, if you’ve been stuck in such a state, you instantly need to recover your lost data before it becomes unrecoverable. Therefore, in this connection, you can wholly rely on Wondershare Recoverit software to recover your lost files from the external hard drive.

Operational Steps:

Free Download

For Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10/11

Free Download

For macOS X 10.10 or later

Step 1: In the first place, launch the Wondershare Recoverit application on your Mac.

Step 2: Then Select your external hard drive to initiate the Scanning process.

select a location to start recovery

Step 3: The Recoverit will excavate the lost hard drive files in the Scanning process.

scanning of external hard drive

Step 4: You can Preview the recoverable files once the external hard drive is successfully scanned.

preview file in recoverit

Step 5: Now, select the files you intend to retrieve and click on the Recover button.


Partitioning an external hard drive isn’t necessarily a condition for Time Machine, but the drive can work more effectively with a separate partition for Time Machine. This partitioning approach even proves to be quite efficient given the data security concerns. Therefore, in this article, we have demonstrated how to partition external hard drive for Time Machine in detail.

Free Download

For Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10/11

Free Download

For macOS X 10.10 or later