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How to create a boot clone

Last modified: Mar 5, 2017 8:29 PM
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23 18 likes 23,114 views Last modified Mar 5, 2017 8:29 PM


Part of a prudent backup plan is having a Boot Clone. This along with an independent Time Machine(TM) back-up will help save your bacon in most any type of data lose, system corruption, catastrophic failure or reinstalling an Operating System. The key concept in any back-up plan is redundancy, (i.e. more than one single back-up device and more than one methodology) the boot clone can serve as a vital part of this one two punch of data protection.

All Hard Drives ( read HD, SSD, SSHD [solid-state hybrid drives] or Fusion drives ) will fail, and can do so at the most inopportune time. One of the main benefits of the Boot Clone is you can boot your machine directly from this external HD, and pick up where you left off without experiencing any down time in your productivity should your internal HD fail. This will allow you to come to terms with your current situation and make a contingency plan for repair, all the while having a fully functional OS X to continue operating. Time Machine does not have this capacity to boot as a usable OS X.

However, according to Apples support article (How to set up and use an external Mac startup disk - Apple Support) you can select your TM backup drive (”EFI Boot”) from the Startup Manager and it will boot into Recovery Mode—from which you can use the Disk Utility to format a replacement drive—and subsequently use TM to restore its content.

The main advantage of TM is that it creates recursive backups—enabling you to restore a specific file or the entire drive— from a certain point in time.

"Your Mac notebook computer might not always be near your Time Machine backup drive, so Time Machine also saves some of its backups to your startup drive. These local snapshots are automatically enabled when you turn on Time Machine" About Time Machine local snapshots - Apple Support

If your Time Machine (Time Capsule) fails, becomes corrupt or does not inherit—you will be thankful you had an alternative backup strategy.

Also when upgrading a new internal HD you can format this new drive externally, and create a boot clone to this new drive before removing and replacing your internal HD. This is a fast and easy process, and a simple enough procedure if you have the correct software, two of the most popular:

Carbon Copy Cloner

Super Duper

You will need an external enclosure to hold the new drive. There are many options, a popular choice is OWC ( now you can buy HD/SSD replacements, enclosures or kits (with tools included &Ne=4294933107&N=4294931955&Ntt=DIY+KIT+… )

First all new drives must be formatted using Disk—this is found in your Applications/Utilities folder, or via Recovery

The important part of formatting your drive for OS X is a GUID Partition Table and the file system Extended Journaled.

You can read more: -el-capitan.html

Mac OS X: About file system journaling - Apple Support

Hopefully this short overview demystifies the concept of BootClones, the advantage of a redundant backup plan, and the resources to help you move forward. Whatever you do, back up early and often.


May 20, 2016 1:30 AM

Nice, concise User Tip on creating a clone!

May 20, 2016 1:30 AM