Apple Mac OS X backup strategies

“Having a backup strategy is essential for every Mac OS X user. When issues arise due to disk corruption, a problematic incremental Mac OS X or Security update, or other unforeseen factors, having access to vital documents and applications is essential,” MacFixIt writes.

“There are essentially two practical strategies for backup: Cloning your Mac OS X startup disk to an external volume, providing a bootable drive that is virtually identical to your current set-up; or simply duplicating your Home user folder to another volume or an online repository then relying on other methods for restoring your applications and various settings.,” MacFixIt writes.

MacFixIt looks at strategies for cloning your Mac OS X startup disk and backing up your home user folder in their full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: ‘Tis better to be safe than sorry.

Also take a look at Apple’s .Mac Backup features here: Learn more about all the things you can do with .Mac

(MacDailyNews is an Apple .Mac affiliate. Thank you for supporting MacDailyNews.)


  1. Since I haven’t crashed in the last 5 years, why would I back up?

    Seriously, I do back up, mostly because I know that my external, non-mac firewire drives will fail and have. And I do back up my documents folder….. but no crashes since the roll out of OSX 10.1 is a major accomplishment.

    MDN word is CAME, as in Steve Jobs came, he saw, he conquered.

  2. I use Apples Backup utility to backup certain folders, mail, and preferences. I’m still looking to get something that can back up OS X server configurations, not just a cloning utility. I’m still have yet to read what Retrospect and Netfault offer, but I’m sure I’ll end up with one of them.

  3. first post

    i had the hard drive on my ibook die on me… had to send it to apple to get the hard drive replaced… lost everything…

    or so i thought, I was able to boot into target disk mode and salvage most of my crap before I sent it to apple.

    some stories have a happy ending.

    MW: price
    as in “Look over there! It’s a price!!!”

  4. I don’t back up nearly as often as I should, but it’s smart, especially if you have a laptop. They take a beating, and you have no way of knowing if that one big fall could turn your iBook into a useless rectangle

  5. A major flaw in .Mac IMO is that it cannot syncronize directories, particularly the Documents directory. Would be nice if I could syncronize my home and office machines.

    As for the price, I’ll leave it to you to decide if it is worth it.

  6. Undoubtedly the best program to clone your entire boot drive is Carbon Copy Cloner.

    1: They have the most experience doing it

    2: The software is donation-ware (please give generously)

    3: They give you the terminal commands to do it yourself if your CLI junkie.

    4: Their software does not “phone home” the minute you launch it. This is very suspicious behavior from a program that takes your Admin Password. (use Little Snitch to warn you of suspicious outgoing net connections) Also to gleam marketing information everytime you use it.

    5: Carbon Copy Cloner does not “trap” you into registrations with no exit or constantly beg you to upgrade for $20.

    6: Carbon Copy Cloner does not confuse you with terminology, a clone is a clone. A duplicate of a drive. Unlike other software which says it’s cloning but its not.

    7: Carbon Copy Cloner copies the whole drive, unlike other companies software that says it is, but is avoiding coping certain “files” that are hidden and used to enforce copy protection schemes because they don’t want to get sued. Since CCC is donation-ware and they provide the terminal commands so you can do it yourself, it lessens the liability for them. All they do is provide a GUI.

    I highly recommend CCC, because many companies are attempting to capitalize on this market and short changing folks without being altogether trustworthy or have our interests at heart.

    I hate to see a essential thing like cloning our boot drives get owned by a company who wants to charge $70 for the privilege of doing so.

    This is a needed and highly essential boot backup method, some folks can barely afford a external drive to begin with, much less paying a fortune for cloning software.

    So please support Carbon Copy Cloner and it’s efforts.

    Thank you

    (no connection to CCC, just a big fan!)

  7. I used SuperDuper and it was confusing and I didn’t like how the little lock trapped me into a registration cycle with no cancelation option.

    I didn’t know it called out on the internet, why should a cloning software do that?

    Why doesn’t it copy the whole drive? Will this mean if my original drive fails for some reason I can’t immediatly boot from the clone and be back at work?


  8. Then you must not be doing it right, I have used CCC for years and every clone booted. You must have forgotten to enable “Make bootable” in preferences.

    Simple cloning method

    1: External Firewire 800 or 400 with updated driver software (especially for Tiger)

    2: Disk utility format Erase w/ Zero option all new drives to elimate bad sectors.

    3: Disk Utility “Repair Permissions” on original

    4: CCC clone with “Make Bootable” option in Preferences

    5: Set Clone as startup and reboot.

    6: Run OnyX (or other software) “Update Prebindings” option (for better performance) and Disk utility “Repair Permissions”

    7: Run all programs, check out everything for proper operation.

    8: Disconnect drive and keep in a safe place to avoid errors and exploits from affecting the clone.

    9: Re-Clone after a successful software update or install, large iTMS purchase or other times you feel neccessary.

    10: If a exploit occurs, “C” boot from Tiger install disk and Zero internal before connecting/booting from clone and reverse cloning.

  9. There was a 10.4.1 Mac OS X problem that didn’t allow CCC and other cloning software to work properly. This has been resolved in 10.4.2 and is no fault of anyone but Apple.

    Just like the 10.4.2 security update broke all 64 bit apps and it was pulled and another one issued.

    Apple does indeed screw up, so clone and remain safe.

  10. Your hard drive WILL fail, for the first poster and any others that do not backup, your HDD is not magical because it is in a Mac, sure it has good Karhma, but that doesnt meant aht your drunk friend with bad karma wont knock it over and cause your HDD to fail.

    So but another drive, and BACKUP people

    Best solution is this:

    first run raid 1 (or the like), so you have a constant and instant backup, second get an external drive that is on a different powersupply, third get an external HDD that is on a different powersupply but this one do not leave it plugged it, take it off site and place it in a fireproof safe at an undisclosed location after every backup (you may want to have 2 of these drives so you can stagger the transports in case of an accident (or the like) during transport, and fourth backup to a highspeed server over the internet on a regular basis.

    If you follow the above instructions I guarentee nothing ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

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