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by David Saunders on February 15, 2019

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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!”Minnetonka Women's Blake Fringe Boot Round Toe B01NAWAQLE 9 B(M) US|BlackAthena Alexander Women's Annora Ballet Flat B075RHFWH6 5.5 B(M) US|Silver 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:

  1. For the event that your hard drive fails and gets replaced.ASICS Women's Gel-Court Bella Tennis Shoe B01H31X4L0 5.5 B(M) US|Paradise Green/Pink Glow/Indigo Blue
  2. For the event that your Mac fails and you decide to replace it.Vionic Womens Miles B07933NGYR 8.5 W US|Light Blue

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. adidas Women's Vigor Bounce W Trail Runner B01H7YGUGE 8 B(M) US|Grey/Dark Shale/Easy CoralThey 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).

  1. SuperDuper! – hard drive clone.
  2. Time Machine – Apple’s built-in backup system.

And my bonus local backup:

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SuperDuper! is software that creates an exact bootable clone of your hard drive. You can find it at the Saucony Women's Peregrine 7 Trail Running Shoe B005BFC1DI 10.5 B(M) US|Teal/Purple/Citron site. Let me tell you how this averted disaster for me on at least two occasions.

SuperDuper! getting started.

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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. New Balance Women's 590v4 FuelCore Trail Running Shoe B075R7J4NQ 8.5 D US|GunmetalMy 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:LifeStride Women's Xripley Riding Boot B072K4CVSC 11 B(M) US|Dark Grey. Nice.

Using SuperDuper!, I cloned the drive. When the clone finished, I rebooted the iMac and caused it to boot from the external drive.New Balance Women's Nitrel v1 FuelCore Trail Running Shoe B01MY1YAHA 8 D US|Grey/Pink 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.Salomon Women's Speedcross 4 W Trail Runner B01HD2Q1RI 8.5 B(M) US|Deep Peacock Blue/Lime Punch./Grape Juice 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,Mizuno Women's Wave Lightning Z2 Volleyball Shoe B01AUPRX4A 6 D US|Black/Royal 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,Skechers Performance Women's Go Walk 4 Exceed Lace-up Sneaker B01AH086F8 10 B(M) US|Taupe/Coral 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. Vionic Kona Women's Orthotic Athletic Shoe B00OJB3SUA 11 B(M) US|Navy/CoralWhen 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:

  1. Boot from the external drive (a clone of my hard drive)
  2. Open SuperDuper! and tell it to restore everything
  3. Wait until SuperDuper! is done and quit.
  4. Shut down the computer
  5. Remove the external drive
  6. 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,Skechers Women's Go Joy Walking Shoe B071JX2VGJ 8.5 W US|Navy/White 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 Women's Womens 928v3 Walking Shoe Walking Shoe B01MRN4MZ4 10.5 D US|Black/BlackYou’re getting the new OS X version, already installed in that computer. Ellie Shoes Women's 821 Vanity Platform Sandal B00JEF401W 9 B(M) US|Clear.

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.Ryka Women's Sky Walking Shoe B00HNDAZOS 7.5 C/D US|Chrome Silver/Cool Mist Grey/Mint IceThat’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 Men's Sk8-Hi(Tm) Core Classics B01N3VFOUV 10.5 M US Women / 9 M US Men|True White.

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Keep two backups of your computer:

  1. SuperDuper!
  2. Time Machine


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February 23, 2016

Here’s a random find from my studio. It’s the original Voice Name List for the Korg 01/Wpro and 01/WproX Synthesizers. It includes the original Programs and Combinations. Let me know if this helps! 01Wpro 01WproX Voice Name List (PDF)

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This is now my 4th post on transposing a song imported from iTunes. This is for version 10.1.0 of GarageBand, which came with OS X 10.11 El Capitan. See my third post if you’re using GarageBand 10.0.3 to transpose a song imported from iTunes. My previous post was written in January 2014. If you have an earlier […]

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December 8, 2014

Extend Your Network with an AirPort Extreme This is my second post on using an Apple Airport Extreme to extend the range of your wireless network. The Airport Extreme and the software utility to set it up have changed quite a bit since my first post over 6 years ago! But the concepts are still […]

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November 19, 2014

SEO by Content Creation   I wish the SEO books had been written years ago when I started creating the website (using a text editor) for our family apartment buildings. Not much was available at the time. Fortunately, we discovered what the search engines of the time were looking for and applied the principles. Amazingly, the […]

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