Get a blank powered external hard drive equal to or slightly larger than the drive your cloning.
Connect the drive the computer, open Disk Utility in your Applications/Utlities folder
Select the external drive makes name and size on the left, click Erase and select the middle option (Security Erase Zero in 10.6) and let it rip, will take a few hours to complete, but maps off bad sectors in advance, not on your data. (only needs to be done once on a new drive, or if it hasn't been done before or in a very long time)
Once that's finished, click Partition > big box and Options: GUID and Format: OS X Extended Journaled make sure it's these or apply. Quit.
Download Carbon Copy Cloner, it's payway now. Launch that and simply clone your boot drive to the external drive.
Pretty simple, the default A to B drive click "clone" is all you need for now, later you can set the more advanced options, backup etc.
CCC will clone the hidden EFI and Recovery Partitions, however not Bootcamp, you need WinClone and another drive for that. Also if your drive is Filevaulted, then you can't clone OS X.
Once the clone is completed, hold the option key and boot from it., check it out.
Disconnect it. If your OS X upgrade is bad or you want to go back. Hold the option key ad boot from the clone and repeat the wipe and reverse clone procedure.
Very helpful! Thank you! Related:
1. If I use an external drive with Time Machine that has 150GB of space left, can I "clone" to that drive?
2. Whichever drive I have to clone to, your last step says to boot from clone. Sorry...I know this sounds dumb, but, what are the steps to "boot from the clone"?
Sorry to make this so basic. I just have no experience with any of this!
1. No - cloning requires a clean volume.
2. To boot from the clone, restart and hold down the opt key (may be marked alt or ⌥) no later than the chime.
That will present you with icons of the bootable drives available - just choose the external and click the arrow.
You can also choose the external in System Preferences > Startup Disk, but you then have to reselect the internal before rebooting. Using the option key version it will automatically boot to the internal if you restart without any keys held down.
SuperDuper will also clone your drive, and it is free to use for full clones (you only need to buy it if you are going to use the incremental update features).
Both Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper are highly respected cloning utilities. I use both.
If you do not need a "Bootable" clone, then you can do something like, have SuperDuper backup to a container file on the external drive. This will save all the data, but it is a bit more work restoring your system. Not recommended unless you already know how to do it.
Compared to the value of your data, the cost of protecting it is not really that expensive <http://dealmac.com>, so get an external drive, and clone your system before doing your upgrade
SuperDuper will also clone your drive, and it is free to use for full clones.
I hear SD doesn't clone the Recovery partition, is this true?
Cloning the Recovery Partition would be necessary once the OP gets to 10.8 and their hard drive dies/upgrade and they need to reinstall OS X fresh on a new drive.
Also SD doesn't clone BootCamp neither correct?
Snow Leopard does not have a recovery partition to backup.
And you can use the Apple "Recovery Disk Assistant" can be used to put a "Recovery Partition" on any externl drive (I've got a bunch on external disks as well as several USB flash drives).
I do not know of any Mac software that painlessly handles Boot Camp partitions. I personally prefer VMware Fusion and container files over Boot Camp.
Message was edited by: BobHarris
if the drive is formatted for Mac use, do I just plug it in and follow your steps?
Yes, do the same steps, even if a few instructions overlap and the drive is already formatted.
You need to be able to boot from this drive later, so it has to be correctly formatted. We are making sure no mistakes occur.
Mac's can read and write other formats and CCC can clone to it, however later it won't be bootable which is essential for the reverse clone proceedure later or using the external drive to run older PPC based software you have.
Also since CCC copies the Recovery Partition in 10.8, paying for the license for that is essential as you can use that in 10.8 also to clone the Recovery which is neeed to download OS X on older machines with no Internet Recovery.
Yes one can make a 10.7/10.8 Recovery bootable USB, but that ties up a USB thumb drive and they are flaky anyway, also one has to use the Recovery USB FIRST to install that, then use SD to reverse clone the Macintosh HD partition, a two step process.
Where CCC will clone everything (but the Bootcamp partition) in one shot and there is WinClone for Bootcamp if you need it.
SuperDuper is only free for basic clones and won't do the Recovery or Bootcamp, the schedualing and backup feature will cost a license.
Since CCC has it all included in the price, you can chose to get the license now so you can clone the Recovery to other drives too.
It's up to you what and how you want to go about it.
Snow Leopard does not have a recovery partition to backup.
Yes, but he's upgrading to 10.8 which does, so he can use the same license and thus copy the Recovery partition which SD doesn't.
I do not know of any Mac software that painlessly handles Boot Camp partitions
WinClone clones that, runs in OS X.
I suspect the BootCamp partiton will have to be recreated on the new freshly reverse CCCed drive, then Winclone installed in OS X and then ran in OS X to perform the reverse Boocamp clone from another drive.
I, like you, run virtual machine Windows, if I'm going to require full hardware for Windows, I'll buy a Windows machine.
So, I just went to the Apple store to purchase an external drive. The sales guy asked me about it's use. I told him I wanted the ability to return to Snow Leopard if I hate Mountain Lion. When I told him about the info I got here, he said that since I already have my files backed up via Time Machine, that I could just do a fresh install of Snow Leopard using the Snow Leopard Install DVD, install Snow Leopard back. Then, hook my external drive (the one with Time Machine back ups) and install those, and that it would accomplish the same thing. He says that I just need to remember to go in Disk Utility and strip the drive of Mountain Lion first, before reinstalling Snow Leopard
Does that sound right?