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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!”SAS Womens Metro B0754NPKZM 9 W - Wide (C) US|BrownTrotters Women's Arnello Ballet Flat B01N0SS25A 7 N US|Navy Crocodile 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:
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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. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Leather High Top Sneaker B01CRDRYVK 8 D(M) US|Black MonoThey 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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- 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 OluKai Ohana B0733DW17Y 7 B(M) US|Hibiscus/Black 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. BareTraps Women's Bt Rylen Ankle Bootie B0716JKSY9 6 B(M) US|Dark BrownMy 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:Nine West Women's Jatoba Knee High Boot B01MZIFGLO 8 B(M) US|Navy Suede. Nice.
Using SuperDuper!, I cloned the drive. When the clone finished, I rebooted the iMac and caused it to boot from the external drive.CLARKS Women's Tamitha Flower Boot B01NASFHZ2 9.5 W US|Dark Brown Leather 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.T.U.K. Women's A6570L Chukka Creeper Boot B005PX4RMY 8 B(M) US|Black 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,Wolverine Women's Floodhand Waterproof 6" Soft Toe Work Boot B01J9XM7O0 6.5 B(M) US|Dark Brown 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,Georgia GB00105 Mid Calf Boot B01F7OS1GS 13 W US|Dark Brown 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. CLARKS Women's Caddell Hop Boot B01MT62R7G 7.5 N US|NavyWhen 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,Harley-Davidson Women's Beechwood Work Boot B01B41Y9JQ 6.5 B(M) US|Black 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! Blundstone Men's 1409 Round Toe Chelsea Boot B00O5M4M30 5 (M) UK |Brown MultiYou’re getting the new OS X version, already installed in that computer. Minnetonka Women's Calf Hi 2-Layer Fringe Boot B0074346YM 6 B(M) US|Dusty.
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.OLUKAI Kamahoi Shoe - Women's B018831C8E 7.5 B(M) US|Black/BlackThat’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: Vans Authentic B01I22CV7M 13.5 B(M) US Women / 12 D(M) US Men|High Rise/Pewter.
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Keep two backups of your computer:
- Time Machine