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How To Do Complete, Easily-Restorable Backups?

I have used Shirt Pocket’s Super Duper for backups for many years, until last fall, when Apple “broke” it. The problems seems to be that Apple removed the ability to create a bootable disk. Since I’m about to get one of the new iMacs, I need an easy way to get ALL of my stuff from the old onto the new machine. What is the best way? What do other people use these days for backup software of that nature (please note: I also have Time Machine running, but I wasn’t impressed with the speed of doing a complete system restore from it when I tried it once a long time ago)?
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Joel Anderson

Comments: 14 Responses to “How To Do Complete, Easily-Restorable Backups?”

    6 months ago

    To get your files from the old Mac to the new one, just use Migration Assistant. That’s exactly what it is for.

    Most people, myself included, use Time Machine for a backup. You get a history of your files which is much more useful than a clone. A clone is useless when you realize you lost a file last week, as the current clone wouldn’t have it, but a Time Machine backup would.

    As far as the speed of doing a restore, that would mostly depend on the speed of the drive and the connection. A long time ago probably means you were using USB 2 which would have been an overnight operation in most cases. But USB 3 is 10x faster.

    You mention bootable clones. What is your use case for that? The only way that would come in handy is if you worked at such a critical job that you needed to swap out the drive and continue working while missing minimal time. Like maybe a nuclear missile silo operator. But if the need for urgency was that great, I’d assume you’d have a backup computer anyway. Booting from a clone would be problematic with the cloud systems of today anyway. Everything would be out-of-sync.

    Joel Anderson
    6 months ago

    Thanks for the advice and information. I like complete protection, so my use case for having a clone is for off-site storage in case my house burns down (or any disaster like that). Migration assistant is good in this case. I wonder why Apple doesn’t mention in their steps on what to do when the new machine arrives.

    6 months ago

    Joel: I have no problem with having a clone for that purpose. But “bootable clone” is what I don’t think is practical today.

    Ken Vignona
    6 months ago

    On that note, I use Time machine for my backup. I have a 2TB Drive dedicated to this. I also use another drive (same brand and size) to back up my photos library and more importantly store my video files and movie projects (not finished movies). How should I back up this separate drive.

    6 months ago

    Ken: Is that second external drive a backup or archive? If a backup, then it is already a backup so why back up the backup? If it is an archive (the only place where these files live) then you can back up using Time Machine (it will do all attached drives unless you say otherwise) or just make a second copy.

    Ken Vignona
    6 months ago

    Gary, I only copied my Photo library on this second drive because I had a problem a few years back and wanted a copy incase I couldn’t solve the problem. So I have a copy of Lib on this drive as well as my Time machine. In addition my clips and projects are on this second drive (not backed up anywhere…recently started). I can back this up to my Time machine also?. Do I just keep both external drives connected to MacBook and run Time Machine? Thanks

    6 months ago

    Ken: Unless you have excluded that drive from Time Machine, then it should be backing it up. Test it out. Then you can also exclude the folder on that drive that has your other copy of the Photos library so that isn’t double (triple?) backed up.

    Ken Vignona
    6 months ago

    Thank you. I will connect and try (and yes triple back wouldn’t be the greatest). When I connect time machine will it back up second drive automatically or will it prompt me. Guess I find out. As always, love the tutorials and this question page.
    Ken

    6 months ago

    Ken: I thought you said the drive was always connected. If this is a desktop Mac, why not have it always connected so it can do its hourly backups? It should be automatic, but check in your Time Machine settings to see if it is excluded.

    Ken Vignona
    6 months ago

    I have a 2021 Macbook Pro. I usually backup about once a month. I just started using that additional Drive. I went into Time Machine Preferences and added the additional drive and exclude the backup of the Photos. It did take a long time to back up, but I am glad I did it and I think I was successful. Is there anyway to “check” if the backup was successful? Thanks again. Ken

    6 months ago

    Ken: Sure. Try it. Make a text file. Save it. Wait a few backup cycles and edit it. Wait a few more, then try restoring it.

    Colin Cleaver
    6 months ago

    Gary: This question set me thinking. My 2 year old iMac has always had a Time Machine drive connected. What do I do if the TM drive suddenly failed? Presumably, get a new drive and plug it in? Also, if I purchase a new iMac and go through Migration Assistant, do I just plug my existing TM drive into it? Thanks.

    6 months ago

    Colin: Yes, if your Time Machine drive fails, just get another one (take the opportunity to get a larger one) and start a new Time Machine backup. You can use your old Time Machine drive with a new machine, yes. I usually wipe it and start fresh, but I think you can just continue. Been a while since I did that so I don’t remember if that is an option. Of course a new Mac is likely to have a larger drive and so getting a new larger Time Machine drive at that point is also a good option. Those drives keep getting cheaper and cheaper. I think my current one is 14TB and it was $200.

    Colin Cleaver
    6 months ago

    Thank you Gary. Good advice as usual, will do.

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