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OS Backup Software?


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#1 Chris Bar

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 07:26 AM

New to Macs but understand that the Airport feature backup does not include the system, so what software will backup the entire disk...like Norton's Ghost that creates an image?  Have a new Mac and want to backup the entire disk before using the laptop.  After solving a user problem, Ghost has worked like a miracle for me [not that adept at computers et. al.].  Thanks for any help....wanting to use this new hardware ASAP.



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#2 tgdetjen

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 08:22 AM

There is no perfect backup software, however, I have found that Apple's Time Machine/Time Capsule is at least supported by Apple.  You will need to purchase a Time Capsule from Apple.  I think they are now available in 2 or 3 Terabyte models.  You use Airport from your laptop to set up the Time Capsule.  You will want to name it, and format it.  You will have to enter the network name and password of your modem/router before you can connect it to your wireless network.  You will also be asked to select a password for the Time Capsule.  Once this has been done, you simply go to system preferences and select Time Machine.  You turn it on (you will need your Mac's administrator password) and select the name that you gave to the Time Capsule.  After 120 seconds, the Mac will begin to backup to the Time Capsule.  They recommend that for the first wireless backup, that you place your Mac laptop right next to the Time Capsule.  Depending on how much you have on the laptop, the backup can take ove 12 hours.  Once the first backup is made, a backup with only the changes to your Mac laptop will take place hourly.  You can easily restore files that you have deleted, using the Time Machine Application.  Despite what someone may tell you, you can use the Time Capsule as a standalone backup disk.  It is also able to be made to be a router connected to your network router, but I use my Verizon FIOS router to connect all my wireless devices (two laptops, printer, and Time Capsule).  By the way, one of the nice things about Time Machine/Time Capsule is that you can have two separate backups from two or more macs.  The Time Machine occasionally deletes backups to make more room and before it completely fills up, it deletes old backups for more space.  Our laptops have solid state drives - one 240GB and the other 250GB, and we are presently only using 94Gb of storage on our one Terabyte Time Capsule (no longer available).



#3 buddy215

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 09:05 AM

For just backing up and using your recovery partition, this may work for you.

Make a Bootable USB Drive OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Recovery Partition

 

 

EDIT...more info:

Mac Backup Software - Carbon Copy Cloner  (no longer free..)

 

Performance Upgrades; FireWire USB SATA Storage; Memory, more at OWC


Edited by buddy215, 30 November 2013 - 10:14 AM.

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#4 Buddyme2

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 03:44 PM

I use SuperDuper! to create clones of all my Macs' startup disks. It has a free version, the paid version ($27.95) unlocks some useful features. Unlike CCC, SD! does not copy the Mac Recovery Partition.



#5 Chris Bar

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 04:48 PM

I had purchased the Airport Time Capsule but later learned that an added USB hard drive must be either formatted for MAC or to FAT32.  Since my intent was to enable backups from either the new Macs [to the TC] or from existing MS laptops and desktop in NTFS, returned the unopened box and obtained two WD drives, one a USB 3.0/2,0 and a net only CAT5 or USB enabled HD not connectable via USB to a computer. Will use one of these to backup the Mac...hopefully the entire drive as it now exists before I use it [and maybe mess it up].

 

Dumb question from me:  what is the MAC Recovery Partition?  I am wanting to create an identical copy of the MAC drive so that I can recover from a system failure...as just happened to my desk computer which crashed last night.  Came up ok after resting overnight but had thought I would need to reinstall a Ghost image as has occurred several times with the desktop and laptops.  I have used Ghost on several occasions with absolute success, and really need to maintain this capability by some means. 

 

So, is the "Recovery Partition" that which I would need to do the same as done with Ghost?  If so, I need to find another means to solve this potential problem.  If there is not a way, unless there is no need and I just do not know that, I still have the option to be Macless and stay MS.  Seemed that MS was headed the same way which is one reason I added Mac...the other the incredible Retina display and full solid state...no whirling discs to crash.  It is so fast too...


Edited by Chris Bar, 01 December 2013 - 05:09 PM.


#6 Buddyme2

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 11:31 PM

OS X: About OS X Recovery

 

In order to create a bootable clone on an external, you would still need to format the hard drive.



#7 smax013

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 11:46 AM

I had purchased the Airport Time Capsule but later learned that an added USB hard drive must be either formatted for MAC or to FAT32.  Since my intent was to enable backups from either the new Macs [to the TC] or from existing MS laptops and desktop in NTFS, returned the unopened box and obtained two WD drives, one a USB 3.0/2,0 and a net only CAT5 or USB enabled HD not connectable via USB to a computer. Will use one of these to backup the Mac...hopefully the entire drive as it now exists before I use it [and maybe mess it up].
 
Dumb question from me:  what is the MAC Recovery Partition?  I am wanting to create an identical copy of the MAC drive so that I can recover from a system failure...as just happened to my desk computer which crashed last night.  Came up ok after resting overnight but had thought I would need to reinstall a Ghost image as has occurred several times with the desktop and laptops.  I have used Ghost on several occasions with absolute success, and really need to maintain this capability by some means. 
 
So, is the "Recovery Partition" that which I would need to do the same as done with Ghost?  If so, I need to find another means to solve this potential problem.  If there is not a way, unless there is no need and I just do not know that, I still have the option to be Macless and stay MS.  Seemed that MS was headed the same way which is one reason I added Mac...the other the incredible Retina display and full solid state...no whirling discs to crash.  It is so fast too...


The recovery partition basically only reinstalls the Mac OS (it also has some utilities that you can run to format disks and other things).

If you want to clone the drive (i.e. make an exact duplicate), then you can use any number of programs to do that. The two most popular ones for that are SuperDuper! and Carbon Copier Cloner.

Personally, I use SuperDuper!. As another noted, it will NOT clone the recovery partition...but then all current Macs have an Internet Recovery option for even if you have a blank drive, so even if you recovery partition get hosed, you can still use Internet Recovery as long as you have an Internet connection. Plus, if you download and save the Mac OS installer from the App Store, you can always use that (as long as you have a bootable external drive...aka your clone).

Personally, I also recommend doing a more traditional backup on a more regular basis to backup your files. The clone is meant to be a quick recovery that you do every once in a while, so you should do a more regular "normal" backup to keep a reasonably current backup of your data files. You could use Time Machine for that.

I should note that SuperDuper! does not clone the ENTIRE drive (i.e. all partitions...which are called volumes in the Mac OS) like many Windows cloning programs do. It clones a VOLUME (aka partition). But, if your clone drive is large enough, then you can partition into several volumes...one volume/partition for each volume/partition you need to clone on your main drive (likely just one) and potentially other volumes/partitions for other data storage or backup. Personally, I tend to pick a clone drive that is the same size as my internal drive that I will be cloning and then use some other drive for my other backup.

#8 Chris Bar

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 12:37 PM

Many thanks guys....I'm still trying to understand what has been said....remember, I am a brand new Mac user;  I could not even prepare this response by cut and paste from a text program [aka. word] since I did not know how in "Mac", so if I am slow to respond, please bear with me.

 

All that I am attempting to do is to have capability to recover to the original condition/state of this computer as purchased.  I do intend to have Time Capsule do routine backups, and will do that once I solve the current need....to enable recovery from a disaster.  After using MS based computers since they were available, I have [not alone in this] had glitches and major problems occur, which I was able to solve by reinstalling a total image of the drive to the most recent backup image I had made.  I usually save any documents frequently on a separate drive and sometime on two different drives if the documents are essential and cannot be re-created, i.e. once in a lifetime photograph.  From what I understand, the Mac does not have these burps to the extent experienced in the MS based computers, but I am of the old school and would be more comfortable if I could have a total backup that I could copy [re-install] to this Mac and without having to resort to downloading something from Apple...need to stand alone to do this.  I will possibly not always have access to the web.

 

What I am understanding is this cannot be done, even with the suggested backup programs.  So, from what I gather, this is the most that can be done:  Backup all but the recovery portion of this Mac, and download the recovery portion from the web [still do not know what the recovery portion/partition is...unless it is the operating system.  Perhaps Apple will not permit the OS to be duplicated since it might end up on a completely different machine.  MS did this which led to folks wandering off to other solutions including other OS.  Have several large and small empty drives so formatting what I need and creating a dedicated external drive(s) just for Mac is intended....storage space is very inexpensive now.

 

Perhaps I should discuss this with the Apple rep who has been very helpful in understanding Macs, however getting there is a little difficult.  I do remember that he recommended Carbon Copier Cloner, and said that the recovery portion cannot be part of a backup...but the definition of recovery portion was still not defined/explained.

 

Again thanks for your help...I know it does take time to respond to questions, and your help is really appreciated.



#9 smax013

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 03:00 PM

The recovery partition is very much like recovery partitions that you likely would have on any new Windows computer that you bought. It will in essence restore the Mac to just like it was when you first pulled it out of the box. The primary difference is that Apple does not flood your Mac with all kinds of "free" "crapware" (i.e. included games, utilities, etc) like many Windows computers do. Macs basically come with JUST the OS and nothing else.

So, the recovery partition is your primary way to "restore to factory" conditions to your Mac. Since "factory conditions" is really only the Mac OS, the recovery partition in essence is only to re-install the Mac OS.

To give a little background, Macs used to come with Mac OS install optical discs that at least had the OS that came with the computer. You would then use that to re-install the OS if you needed (aka "restore to factory condition"). For a short period of time, when they started shipping Macs without optical drives (aka the MacBook Air), they would then provide a USB Mac OS install disk that did the same things as what the optical discs used to do. My first 11" MBA was this way.

With the advent of Lion (aka Mac OS 10.7), Apple went "diskless" (they did still offer an option to buy it on a flash drive...don't know if they still do or not) both for new computers (i.e. no recovery disks shipped with the new computers) and also for OS upgrades (you get an installer through the App Store that you download). As a result, the Mac OS installer starting with Lion up to the current Mavericks version will create a "hidden" partition on your drive (just like most Windows computers have) that will re-install the Mac OS (and allow you to run a few utilities like Disk Utility). Macs also ship with the "hidden" recovery partition. The only slight issue with the approach is what happens if your hard drive bites the dust. That is where the Internet Recovery option comes into play. The Internet Recovery option is built into the firmware for the Mac. It will allow you to boot into a mode that will allow you to connect to Apple's servers and download an installer that will create the recovery partition for you. Now, this mode is only if your drive is dead and you are replacing it (meaning your recovery partition is useless) AND you don't have some other way to re-install the Mac OS (such as a clone, a copy of the installer that you saved/backed up [and some bootable Mac drive], or a bootable Mac OS install disk [either optical or flash] that you created from a Mac OS installer that you downloaded from the App Store).

Does that help explain the "recovery options" that come with the Mac.

Now, if you want to be able to "recovery" to a setup AFTER you have installed software and configured settings, etc (i.e. NOT just a "factory condition"), then that is where cloning software comes into play. These programs do the same things as what program like Norton Ghost, Acronis TrueImage, etc can do on a Windows computer. There are differences, however. Most Windows cloning programs (such a Acronis TrueImage, which is what I use on my Windows computers) will clone the entire DRIVE...bit for bit. So, if you have three partitions on your Windows' computer's drive (including one of them being a recovery partition), then those three partitions will be clone to the new drive.

Macs deal with drives differently. As a result, Mac cloning programs tend to only clone partitions (which are referred to as "volumes" in the Mac world). They might be able to clone multiple partitions in one operation (Carbon Copy Cloner seems to be able to do that), but also might only clone one partition/volume at a time (this is how SuperDuper! works). As a result, by default, at best they will not automatically also clone the recovery partition/volume when you clone the main volume/partition, but at worst they will not clone the recovery partition at all (this still seems to be the case with SuperDuper). It seems Carbon Copy Cloner provides some way to clone the recovery partitions as well as the main partition, but I have never used it, so I cannot say for sure if that is true or not. I can say that with SuperDuper!, there are ways to get there recovery partition on a new drive (you basically re-install the Mac OS on the new drive) and then you use SuperDuper to clone your main partition/volume to the new drive.

Frankly, if you are using cloning your main (booting) partition, then there is little need for the recovery partition. About the only reason you would HAVE to have a recovery partition and want to be able to clone that recovery partition is if you use FileVault...I believe.

So, the point is that if you want to just be able to "recovery to factory" then the existing recovery partition is all you need. You might want to download a Mac OS installer and then create a bootable Mac OS install USB flash drive in case something happens to the internal drive in your Mac since you said you may not always have access to the web.

If you want clone (or image ** see below) of some "state" of your drive that is NOT "factory", then you will need a cloning program (although if you just want an image, then Disk Utility can create an image of your drive, but you would still need some bootable Mac OS drive). As I said before, SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner are the most commonly suggested programs, but there are others out there.

Just to be on the safe side (sorry if I am telling you something you already know)...a clone is an exact duplicate of a drive/partition that is on another drive. It is essentially a second drive that is more or less the exact same as your primary drive (not exactly true on a Mac). For an image, you are saving an exact copy of that drive/volume to a file on a drive. The primary difference is that a clone is typically bootable, while an image is not (you would need to boot off a bootable disc containing your imaging/cloning program...something that is not needed with a clone).

Does any of that explanation help? Or is it "clear as mud".

If it helps, here is what I do.

For all my currently active Macs, I maintain a clone drive. Since I only have the one volume on the drive (plus the recovery partition), the clone drive will only have the one volume. As result, SuperDuper! works for my use. I generally update the clone right before I install any major updates (certainly before an upgrade to a new OS version, but also before many typical OS, security, and program updates)...this translates to some where around monthly to quarterly. This allows me to boot off the clone to the state prior to the update/upgrade if I have problems and restore to that prior "state" if I need to do so. I generally use a drive that is the same size as the internal drive and that drive is in an enclosure that I buy (as opposed to buying an "manufactured" external drive such as a WD drive). This allows me to be physically remove the internal drive on the Mac if it dies and put in my clone drive and be back up in running in the time it takes me to remove the older drive and install the clone drive. So, my clone serves two functions...1) reverting to prior states after doing some sort of update/upgrade and 2) drive replacement if my internal drive bites the dust.

FWIW, I do this same thing for my Windows computers. I use Acronis TrueImage for that.

Then on my Macs, my second "line of defense" is a Time Machine backup. I backup both my main Macs to a NAS drive using Time Machine. For the one Mac, this is daily (there are programs that allow you to adjust Time Machine's default schedule). For the other Mac, it is more manually (mainly because Time Machine has "issues" with this computer that I have yet to figure out).

On the Mac with the manual time machine backup, my third "line of defense" is that many of my key files on that computer are in either Box or Dropbox.

And my last "line of defense" is that I manually copy key/essential files manually to an external drive that I can store offsite if I want.

#10 tgdetjen

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 03:21 PM

If you would like to return the Mac to its original condition, the best way would be to reinstall the operating system.

 

1 -  connect your Mac by ethernet cable to your router LAN ports

2 - hold down Command-R and hit the power key

3 - This will take you to the recovery partition

4 - Select "Reinstall Operating System"

5 - You will be asked for your Apple ID (email address) and password

6 - The server at Apple will automatically download a new operating system

7 - When it is finished downloading, it will install (this can take around 45 minutes depending on your connection), but be patient and wait for it to finish installing after downloading.

8 - When it is finished, the Mac will reboot.  You will have a new recovery partition, new operating system, and all of your original applications and files.

9 - You are not done yet.  Go to the upper lefthand corner of the screen and select "Software Update."   Install all the updates.

10 - Now restart your Mac



#11 tgdetjen

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 08:13 AM

If you have a laptop, Time Machine, will make a limited amount of "snap shots" on your hard disk.  It is better to complement this with an exterior hard drive made to collect the backups and any changes you make every hour.  Apple makes "Time Capsule" in 2 and 3 terrabyte models.  The two terrabyte model is probably adequate.  We have two laptops and back up to an older version of Time Capsule with a one Terrabyte capacity.  It is good insurance.






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