Should I upgrade to Sonoma?

Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Messages
4,523
Reaction score
2,295
Points
113
Location
Sacramento, California
If someone were relying on cloning with no other backup, how often would they make a new clone? What would their strategy be?

I don't want you to be confused by bad advice.

First, cloning software can make incremental backups on a schedule, exactly the same as versioned backup software. (At least SuperDuper! can, which is the cloning program that I most often recommend. However, you must purchase the commercial version of SuperDuper! to do incremental backups. ) How often you set it to do so is up to you, based on your needs and, as Patrick told you, what your backup stratagy is.

I hear from folks who have had problems with TimeMachine fairly often. It's simply a much more complex type of backup. (More and more lately I've been hearing from folks who have found that TimeMachine fills up their backup drive unexpectedly quickly, and then won't erase older files to make room for newer backups as it is supposed to, and then fails completely. So far there is no concrete explanation for why this happens and how to fix it.) Have a look at the link that I gave you, and also have a look through this forum's archives if you need proof that what I say is the case. Conversely, I can't remember anyone *ever* saying that they had SuperDuper! give them problems, with the exception of when Apple switched to Apple Silicon, and for a time all cloning software had to catch up to the hardware. There have been times when folks have had problems with Carbon Copy Cloner, and it's quite a good product, but Dave Nanian at Shirt Pocket Software, makers of SuperDuper!, is wildly meticulous about making sure that his software doesn't go out the door unless it does things absolutely perfectly.

While cloning software doesn't nominally keep old versions of documents and applications (Carbon Copy Cloner can do both), if you are someone who deals in creating a lot of work product, high end content creation programs can often be set to automatically save intermediate versions of your files, very effectively doing what you want at the application level. You can also learn to use Save As quite often to save intermediate versions of files.

If you are concerned about trashing things and then wanting them back, you can do what I do. I have a folder on my desktop that I created called "Pre-Trash." Instead of putting things in the Trashcan, I put things in Pre-Trash. I have the "View" for Pre-Trash set to "column", ordered by date. Every certain number of months I go and move things from Pre-Trash that are over a certain age where I'm sure that I will never need them again, and I trash them.

I advise and consult for users who are newbie hobbyists, all the way up to very serious professionals. Each level of user may require an entirely different strategy for backing up, based on such things as how important their data is, how much inconvenience they are willing to tolerate, how foolproof they feel that their backup plan needs to be, and how much they can afford to spend on backup software and hardware. Backup strategies are often broken up into tiers. A single tier backup plan for a very simple home user might be a clone backup to a really cheap external rotating disk hard drive. A four tier backup plan might be in order for someone whose data is absolutely invaluable, the loss of which would be catastrophic. For those folks I will often recommend *both* separate clone and versioned backups, an off-site backup done via a virtual cloud, and a backup of just one's work product to a tiny portable drive that one carries around all the time.

If you let us know what your needs are, we can help you tailor a perfect backup plan for you.
 
Joined
Feb 24, 2011
Messages
945
Reaction score
39
Points
28
Location
Los Angeles
@Randy B. Singer et al. Thanks for these explanations. This has been very helpful and elucidating. :)

My needs are simple. I need an adequate backup in case of catastrophic failure of my laptop. A backup of the most recent version of my data is fine. I do not need to go back in history to earlier versions of data. The backup should be bootable.

At present, I use TimeMachine. I perform a daily backup and occasionally I manually delete older backups in order to clear disk space. Several years ago, on a different laptop, I had a complete failure, but I discovered that I was able to reboot and recover from my TimeMachine backup. That's all I needed. I could add a clone backup to what I am doing, but it sounds like I do not need it.

Thanks again, guys. This is still the most helpful forum on the Internet. :)
 
Joined
May 21, 2012
Messages
10,820
Reaction score
1,246
Points
113
Location
Rhode Island
Your Mac's Specs
M1 Mac Studio, 11" iPad Pro 3rd Gen, iPhone 13 Pro Max, Watch Series 7, AirPods Pro
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
15,687
Reaction score
4,048
Points
113
Location
Winchester, VA
Your Mac's Specs
MBP 16" 2023 (M3 Pro), iPhone 15 Pro, plus ATVs, AWatch, MacMinis (multiple)
Why? That no longer works on new Mx models.
It is possible, but more difficult and complex to accomplish. If the goal is to make the clone bootable, the clone has to be set up IN ADVANCE with certain Ownership credentials in addition to having the Operating System on it. Here is just one article on it:

 
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
15,687
Reaction score
4,048
Points
113
Location
Winchester, VA
Your Mac's Specs
MBP 16" 2023 (M3 Pro), iPhone 15 Pro, plus ATVs, AWatch, MacMinis (multiple)
What good is a backup if it's not bootable?

I do not know what "Mx" means.
First the easy one. "Mx" is a shorhand way to refer to the M1, M2, and M3 based Macs. Apple Silicon or AS is another way. Fundamentally, the CPU is different in Mx Macs than in the older Intel-based Macs. Your Mac, a 2020 iMac, was the last iMac to have Intel CPU. The 2021 iMac was the first with an M1 chip.

On the other part, non-bootable backups are perfectly good for restoring your data and applications in the event of a drive failure. If your iMac suffers a drive failure, you replace the drive, reinstall the OS and then restore from the backup. You can even boot to recovery from the TM drive to do the reinstallation of the OS. However, you cannot operate from that recovery boot. You can just reinstall the OS.

Now, if your use case demands that you be up and runniing within minutes of a failure, TM isn't the backup tool for you. In that case you need a cloned, bootable, backup so that if the internal drive dies you can immediately reboot from the backup and continue.

When you replace that iMac, if you stick with Mac, you will end up with an Mx Mac (whatever the "x" has gotten to by then, the M4's are coming soon), At that point, you will discover that the "drive" is actually integrated to the CPU so tightly that if the drive "fails" the CPU is of little use as the entire logic board has to be replaced. In fact, Mx Macs have a very small "drive" that is hidden on that storage that cannot be moved to any external drive by any cloning software, and if the internal drive fails and that little area is not functioniing, the entire machine is unbootable.

So, a bootable external backup is actually of slightly lower utility than it used to be because of that inability to boot if the internal storage is actually dead. Still useful, just not exactly in the same way.

You can stop here if that's all you need. What follows is more technical stuff.

So how does this boot process work? Read the link I provided earlier. It goes into deep detail on what happens when an Intel machine is booted and when an Mx Mac is booted. The two processes are different. How Apple may change that in the next iteration of macOS is unknown at this point, but history to date is that Apple is making booting from externals more and more difficult to accomplish as part of the increasing security. The idea is that if you have sensitive data on your Mac, and if that Mac is stolen, or someone gains illicit access to it, they won't be able to boot from an external drive to be able to bypass the increased security Apple has baked into the OS. The article I linked to earlier says this about your machine:
For T2 Macs to boot from an external disk, that must have been enabled using Startup Security Utility in Recovery mode.
Your iMac has a T2 security chip, so that applies to you. For a drive to be bootable, you have to enable that using the Startup Security Utility in Reovery Mode before you need it, which is why I said you have to do this in advance, or it won't work for you. I'll leave it to you to read both at the site I linked to, and at Apple.com (where you can find their documentation under Support). It isn't a trivial process.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Messages
4,523
Reaction score
2,295
Points
113
Location
Sacramento, California
Why? That no longer works on new Mx models.

You can still make a bootable clone for Apple Silicon-based Macs.

The caveats are :

1) A bootable clone won't boot an Apple Silicon Mac with a completely dead internal hard drive. But for that matter, nothing else will either. An Apple Silicon Mac with a dead internal hard drive won't run again, no matter what you do, until you replace either the System chip or the entire motherboard. (Apple won't do the former.) This doesn't make a bootable clone worthless; it still can be used to boot healthy Macs, including your original Mac when you get it repaired and need to do a restore.

2) Apparently there are still users who have been unable to successfully create a bootable clone using Carbon Copy Cloner. However, folks who use SuperDuper! can.

3) Creating a bootable clone using SuperDuper! isn't as dead easy as just running SuperDuper! anymore. You first have to install the Mac OS on your external backup drive using the Apple Installer. Then you can do backups using SuperDuper! as before, and your clone will be bootable.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Messages
4,523
Reaction score
2,295
Points
113
Location
Sacramento, California
My needs are simple. I need an adequate backup in case of catastrophic failure of my laptop. A backup of the most recent version of my data is fine. I do not need to go back in history to earlier versions of data. The backup should be bootable.

This is the level of backup that the vast majority of Mac users that I hear from say that they need.

Here is what I often recommend:

Backup software:

SuperDuper! ($28 commercial version)
https://www.shirtpocket.com

Backup hardware (this may vary based on the size of your internal drive):

SAMSUNG T7 Shield 1TB, Portable SSD, up to 1050MB/s, USB 3.2 Gen2, Rugged External Solid State Drive (MU-PE1T0R/AM, 2022), Blue
$89
https://www.walmart.com/ip/SAMSUNG-...1-050MB-s-USB-3-2-Gen2-MU-PC1T0H-AM/787072688

I no longer recommend external rotating disk hard drives (RDHD's) for backup use unless you need to backup over 4TB of data. That's because Apple's new drive format (APFS) is optimized for SSD's and it is a dog with rotating disk hard drives. The last thing that you need when trying to do a restore from a backup drive is have that drive run like molassas. External SSD's have come down drastically in price recently, and they are now very reasonably priced compared to RDHD's.
 

Shop Amazon


Shop for your Apple, Mac, iPhone and other computer products on Amazon.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.
Top