Time Machine made a backer-upper out of me. For far too long I’d relied on my iDisk to back up important documents, but I never kept an easily restorable backup of my stuff. Now that I have a huge hard drive hooked up to my AirPort Extreme at home, my work and home computers are all backed up regularly.

Even though each machine has the fastest wireless currently available on a Mac, 802.11n, the backup process can take a long time (I trigger it manually, once a week or so). I realized that I really do not need every last file on my computer, so I came up with a list of files and folders to exclude from the backup.

Because my Downloads folder is home to stuff that I probably don’t need in the long run, I excluded that; because most of my music and movies live on a separate hard drive and are backed elsewhere, I exclude these; and because the Applications folder is so sprawling and I have all of the original disks for each program, I exclude this as well.

Backup speed is less of an issue if you have your machines backing up hourly: because so little changes in the course of an hour, things move along quickly. But I simply do not need or want hourly backups, so I had to make some changes.

To exclude files and folders from the backup system, open the Time Machine preferences located in System Preferences. In there, click the Options button, and from here you manage your exclusions.

What are you excluding from your Time Machine plan?

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