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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!”Superga Women's 2790 Acotw Fashion Sneaker B074G34RS5 37.5 M EU (7 US)|Black/WhitePUMA Women's Muse En Pointe Wn Sneaker B071K7F9W6 6.5 B(M) US|Rock Ridge-rock Ridge 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.Miz Mooz Women's Sunnyside Fashion Boot B06XP5JLLH 40 M EU (9-9.5 US)|Black
- For the event that your Mac fails and you decide to replace it.Vince Camuto Women's Talorini Motorcycle Boot B072J88TW2 5 B(M) US|Black
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. Vince Camuto Women's Karini Ankle Boot B01NBU842U 9.5 B(M) US|BlackThey 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 Dirty Laundry Women's Tena Ankle Boot B07C8QF9X8 9.5 M US|Rusty Brown Suede 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. Bella Vita Women's Ronan Boot B00U80108S 6.5 N US|BurgundyMy 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:Ryka Women's Influence Cross Training Shoe B00HNBLZUS 9.5 B(M) US|Steel Grey/Chrome Silver/Diver Blue/Zuma Pink. Nice.
Using SuperDuper!, I cloned the drive. When the clone finished, I rebooted the iMac and caused it to boot from the external drive.Aerosoles Women's Square Away Ankle Boot B06Y65MY3D 7.5 B(M) US|Grey 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.Aerosoles Women's Fact Fiction Ankle Boot B06Y636S7S 7 B(M) US|Dark Brown Leather 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,FRYE Women's Engineer 8R Ankle Boot B000M3O2KE 7 B(M) US|Black Greasy-77500 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,Bella Vita Women's Nicky Ii Ankle Bootie B06ZZP6KG2 8 N US|Stone Super Suede 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. Kodiak Women's Alma Chelsea Boot B016M8NFUU 9.5 B(M) US|Black 210When 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,Dr. Martens Women's 1460 Re-Invented Victorian Print Lace Up Boot B003K15Z92 7 M UK / 9 B(M) US|Red 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! Lucky Brand Women's Jana Fashion Boot B06XCVK9QD 7 M US|BlackYou’re getting the new OS X version, already installed in that computer. Eureka USA Women’s Universe Leather Ballet Flat B074TZGC4X 9 B(M) US|518 Champagne Gold.
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.FRYE Women's Carly Zip Chelsea Boot B072135TYC 7.5 B(M) US|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: Lucky Brand Women's Tamarindd Ankle Bootie B01IR92NP0 7.5 B(M) US|Black.
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Keep two backups of your computer:
- Time Machine