Hard drives are bigger than ever, less expensive per gigabyte than ever, last longer than ever, are faster than ever, and still break, die, destroy data.
What will you do when you turn on your Mac and the hard drive is dead? No music. No photos. No files. What is your backup plan?
Mac360 preaches backup, backup, backup. Find a way that works for you and backup. Then repeat. Why? Because sooner or later your Mac’s hard drive will kick the bucket, buy the farm, push up daisies.
When it does, what will you do? How long will it take you to restore your Mac to what it was before the hard drive died?
All of us look forward to OS X Leopard’s new Time Machine backup feature, which lets us find files that may have accidentally been deleted. If your Mac only has one hard drive, then even Time Machine backup doesn’t mean much when the drive goes to that platter graveyard in the sky.
If we’re to preach backups, then we have a need for backup methodology. From experience, the least expensive, easiest to employ methodology is a complete clone of your Mac’s hard drive to another hard drive. Why? The cost is pretty much limited to the cost of a hard drive that matches the size in your Mac. Even big hard drives are inexpensive these days.
Our favorite tool for backups for the past few years has been the wonderful cloning tool SuperDuper! It clones your Mac to another hard drive, internal or external, and is especially effective with an external Firewire or USB drive, which can be used to start up your Mac.
There are many ways to backup a Mac. Some only backup critical files such as music, photos, movies, and important documents. These Mac users assume that if there’s a catastrophe that system files and applications can be re-installed on a new hard drive. That’s true. But it won’t happen in an hour, and a clone is available instantly.
There are many tools available to backup a Mac. I was particularly pleased to see the new release of Mike Bombich’s popular Carbon Copy Cloner.
What you get, at the most basic level, is what you get with SuperDuper! CCC does a block-level copy of your Mac’s hard drive to another hard drive so every file is duplicated. The new version features full synchronization which means once you’ve backed up a hard drive, the second back up is incremental and takes less time.
Other features include advanced scheduling so you can set up when you want the backup clone to take place. There’s also support for backing up your Mac’s hard drive across a network to another Mac. These features are an improvement over the previous version of CCC, though any massive update comes with issues, and Carbon Copy Cloner has a few.
Some users report having issues with a backup to a disk image instead of a separate hard drive. Other users say that preferences are not being saved by CCC. In our tests, CCC backed up a full hard drive in about the same time as SuperDuper!, and the clone drive started up just fine. But we could not create a disk image and back up select files to the image.
That’s not a deal breaker, especially in a new version with so many new features. Carbon Copy Cloner is priced to move—it’s free. But so is the base version of SuperDuper! which also clones, but doesn’t allow some of the file manipulation or scheduling available in CCC. You pay more for those features in SuperDuper!
The approach that Mike takes with Carbon Copy Cloner is to be applauded. It’s donation-ware, uncrippled shareware, so if it works for you, a few bucks sent Mike’s way helps to keep development going.
Most of the Mac360 staff follow the lead of the site’s founder, Tera Jean Patricks, and we use a combination of SuperDuper! for cloning, and Chronosync for rapid file synchronizations, even across a network or between two Macs.
On the other hand, Carbon Copy Cloner is free and does a very good job with the basic cloning of one hard drive to another. Other features include the ability to clone only specific folders and files, so there’s more flexibility built in than in previous versions of CCC, and some features are easier to use than in SuperDuper!
Got a backup plan in place? Got a horror story to share? Talk Back to Mac360 readers in the Comments section below.