Question: I want a reliable backup method. What should I do?
Answer: Many people in our group believe that the very best way to make a backup is to clone your hard drive on an external hard drive. The replica of your disk allows you to restore it quickly after a crash, or to use it as a replacement startup drive if you need to get working quickly despite a crash.
Once you have an external drive set up and plugged in, either in a USB or FireWire port, you have many interesting options. When you get your external disk, you may want to split it up in two volumes. One for cloning, and one for Time Machine backups.
Cloning with Carbon Copy Cloner
Carbon Copy Cloner is a respected piece of software. The small application will make a fully bootable clone of your hard drive. Its advantage over simple file backups is that if your disk fails, you can restore it in no time on a new drive, and start up your Mac from the clone.
After downloading it and copying it in your Applications > Utilities folder, launch the application. Select your Source Disk, which is your startup volume. Select your Target Disk, which is the external volume to make your clone. Choose the Backup everything option to make a bootable clone. Then, click on the Clone button.
Carbon Copy Cloner costs US$39.95 from Bombich Software.
Cloning with SuperDuper
SuperDuper is comparable to Carbon Copy Cloner. It will make a bootable clone of your drive.
After downloading it and copying it to the Applications folder, launch it. Besides the Copy option, select your startup volume. Then, on the right, select your external volume besides the “to” word. Besides “using”, select Backup – all files.
As for Carbon Copy Cloner, this will create a clone that you can restore quickly.
Super Duper is free from Shirt Pocket, but additional features such as scheduling cost US$27.95.
Which one to choose
Since many people who read this article come in to know which one they should choose between CCC and SuperDuper, what we can tell you is that both wdo a great job for cloning. There are fans for both and they both deserve being recommended for a cloned backup.
Time Machine backups
The Time Machine technology that Apple ships with Mac OS X since the first Leopard version is a different beast. With its hourly backup, it is more of a file synchronizer than anything else so you might want to use it as a complement. It will keep an hourly backup for the last 24 hours, daily backups for the last month and weekly backups for previous months.
Time Machine addresses the “oops, I just deleted an important file” problem. Its incremental backups allow you to go back in time to restore a file or folder. And it works automatically, every hour, if you leave it turned on.
Just pull down the Apple menu and select System Preferences. Then, click on the Time Machine panel in the System area. Flip the switch to On.
The final word
Are we recommending doing a whole lot of backup? Perhaps. But once you have a hard drive failure or accidentally erase important files, you will give yourself a high-five for the preventive measures.