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I am often asked if I have a backup of my Mac. And unfortunately for the person asking the question, I’m a little like the watchmaker who, when you ask him what time it is, he tells you how to make a watch. First the answer is definitely, “yes!”Ariat Women's Krista Pull-on Steel Toe Western Cowboy Boot B003E7OKH0 8.5 B / Medium(Width)|Dark PeanutMuck Boot Women's Arctic Adventure Tall Snow Boot B00G9C6M7I 5 B(M) US|Swirl Print In fact, I have 3 local backups of sorts.
I contend that you must have at least two different local backups, for two likely events:
- For the event that your hard drive fails and gets replaced.Skechers Sport Women's No Limits Slip-On Mule Sneaker B014EY25GO 7 M US|Black
- For the event that your Mac fails and you decide to replace it.PUMA Women's Vikky Platform Sneaker B072QYSJLP 5.5 M US|Blue Indigo-blue Indigo
And if you have the two backups that I suggest below, you can recover from either event in just a few minutes to an hour or so.
So if you haven’t already, purchase two external hard drives. Vans Men's Sk8-Hi(Tm) Core Classics B078Y7CZF8 10.5 B(M) US Women / 9 D(M) US|Desert Sage True WhiteThey should be the same storage capacity as the drive that you are backing up. I like the Lacie Thunderbolt drives for this purpose. But you may like another drive better, and that’s just fine. As long as the drives are reliable, your data will be safely stored for the day that disaster comes.
So without belaboring the point, I will tell you what my two backup systems and my bonus backup (my 3rd local backup).
- SuperDuper! – hard drive clone.
- Time Machine – Apple’s built-in backup system.
And my bonus local backup:
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- Merrell Women's Chateau Tall Lace Polar Waterproof Snow Boot B01MSZK61M 7 B(M) US|Merrell Oak
- MIA Women's Charleese Ankle Boot B074P4F325 7 B(M) US|Black
- Drew Shoe Women's Winnie Clog B000IFOC92 9.5 W US|Walnut
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- Reebok Women's Ridgerider Trail 3.0 Sneaker B077ZF3QN9 11 M US|Ash Grey/Dreamy Blue/Blac
- Sync to another Mac computer
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SuperDuper! is software that creates an exact bootable clone of your hard drive. You can find it at the SeaVees Women's Baja Slip On Casual Sneaker B00M0PTJKK 6.5 B(M) US|Natural site. Let me tell you how this averted disaster for me on at least two occasions.
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A few years back, I had an iMac that began failing after running for an hour or so. For a few days, the time to failure got a little shorter. I had a backup, but wasn’t looking forward to putting everything back on a new hard drive. I knew that cloning a drive was theoretically possible, but I had never put it to the test.
I began by searching for software that would make an exact, bootable copy of the hard drive. Skechers Sport Women's Premium-Premix Slip-On Sneaker B077YRDP13 38-39 M EU / 8 B(M) US|White/NavyMy research turned up SuperDuper! I figured out that if I let the computer power down and cool off, it would run long enough to finish the cloning of the drive. That was fortunate, and not usually the way things work out.
I purchased an internal hard drive and connected it with an adapter that turns an internal drive into an external drive. Bonus:NIKE Women's Air Zoom Structure 21 Running Shoe B077P1DL3D 11 B(M) US|Tea Berry. Nice.
Using SuperDuper!, I cloned the drive. When the clone finished, I rebooted the iMac and caused it to boot from the external drive.Taryn Rose Women's Daisy Knit Sneaker B074B5KMFH 11 M M US|Denim To my amazement, although much slower than the internal hard drive, the computer booted up and I saw my desktop screen exactly as I expected. Every icon in place.Skechers Sport Women's Flex Appeal 2.0 Simplistic Fashion Sneaker B01EOSW16O 8 B(M) US|Navy Hot Pink I tried a few programs to convince myself that I had indeed cloned the drive. All of my little tests worked perfectly.
To finish the job, I found an explanation of how to replace the internal iMac drive on YouTube. I removed the failing drive from my iMac and put the cloned in its place. I closed everything up and powered up.
The iMac was working exactly as before the change, only better. The hard drive was faster and had a higher capacity. Win win.
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This case, rather recently, made me glad that I follow my own rules of backing everything up (twice) before applying an OS X update. In this case, I was updating to El Capitan (OS X 10.11), so I made my usual SuperDuper! clone, as well as the Time Machine backup.
Upon installing the update, I got the spinning color wheel. After several attempts to restart the process, it stayed spinning over night. I made an appointment for the local Apple Genius Bar, hopefully they could help my finish the update.
They had never heard of a Retina Macbook Pro SSD drive failing–until that day. Apparently, by downloading the update,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Seasonal Color Hi B01LZD4KF3 10 D(M) US|Red the drive accessed an area that had not previously been accessed. And so I was caught in a loop. The update had gotten to that spot where the old OS was no longer available,Merrell Women's Zoe Sojourn Lace Knit Q2 Sneaker B079DH1Y2S 10 B(M) US|Dusty Olive but the new OS had not been fully installed.
The Apple Genius asked if I had a backup. I smiled and simply said yes. I wanted to tell him all about my various backup procedures, but I refrained.
So, the procedure at this point was to replace the SSD drive. Josef Seibel Women's Sina 11 Fashion Sneaker B076RCLW6N 40 Medium US|JeansWhen asked if I wanted them to restore from a backup, I declined. I knew that I might have better results with my SuperDuper! backup than with the Time Machine backup.
In this instance, where only the hard drive is being replaced, SuperDuper! is by far the easiest recovery. I followed the instructions on the Shirt-Pocket website:
- Boot from the external drive (a clone of my hard drive)
- Open SuperDuper! and tell it to restore everything
- Wait until SuperDuper! is done and quit.
- Shut down the computer
- Remove the external drive
- Boot the computer as normal
As I had experienced previously, everything came back exactly as it had been before the failure. I then updated to El Capitan without incident. I’m writing this post from that computer.
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In this case, the hard drive may or may not have failed,Superga Women's 2750 Cotu Sneaker B0721PPKF8 37.5 M EU / 7 B(M) US|Ivory/Gold but some other vital component has failed, and the best option is to replace the computer. Here’s where Time Machine really shines. Time Machine brings a new computer as close to the same as your old computer as it possibly can.
In the case of a new computer, you probably don’t want a clone of the drive! New Balance Men's 373V1 Sneaker B072J9KR6S 12 2E US|Navy/RedYou’re getting the new OS X version, already installed in that computer. Saucony Women's Kinvara 8 Running Shoe B078RF2H17 12 M US|Red/White.
Trust the Apple Time Machine to bring over all your settings and apps to the new computer.
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What was the third backup (of sorts) mentioned earlier? That’s the sync between my main computer and my travel computer.Vans Authentic B01MU76UTU 12.5 B(M) US Women / 11 D(M) US Men|BeigeThat’s the topic of another post. I’ll write that one soon. If you’re interested, ask about it in the comments below. I’ll gladly tell you what that third backup is all about. Hint: New Balance Women's 711v3 Cross Trainer B06XRWHPW8 75 D US|Steel/Blue Iris.
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Keep two backups of your computer:
- Time Machine