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Best way to back up my mac in preparation for a new one?

4111 Views 12 Replies Latest reply: Oct 8, 2012 1:52 PM by Network 23 RSS
take2hikes Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Oct 5, 2012 12:26 PM

I am going this afternoon to purchase a new Macbook Pro Retina model. I am wondering what the best way is to back up all of my data.


I do not mind technical answers (terminal commands). I was thinking just backing up my Applications and User folders would be pretty much everything. Contacts, Address book, etc will all be re-synced via iCloud, correct?


After I get my new one all good to go, I am selling the computer to a friend. My understanding is that holding Command + R at boot will take me into a menu that I can re-install the computer to factory conditions. Is this also true?


I also have an iPhone 5, not sure if you can reverse sync with them.


Quick replies are greatly appreciated!



MacBook Air, Mac OS X (10.7.1)
  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,640 points)

    First SAVE your Money. The Retina is one of the worst Mac computer ever made. Just read these forum about all the problems with them.


    If you are set on waisting your money then use Time Machine to backup your current Mac and then during the initial setup screen you will be ngive an option to Restore Programs, Files and settings from a Drive, another Mac or TM backup.

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,640 points)

    As to the Command+r option that all depends on when your current Mac was made and what version of OS X came Pre-Installed on it. If it came with any older version of OS X then Lion then even if you can use the Command+r option you can not sell or give that Mac away with Lion or Mt Lion installed on it. If it came with Snow Leopard or Leopard Pre-Installed you have to return it to at least Snow Leopard using the OS upgrade DVD you used to install Snow Leopard or the Snow Leopard system disc that came with that system.


    If it came with Snow Leopard then any upgrade of the OS you did from the Download only versions, Lion or Mt Lion, are TIED TO YOUR Apple ID and not to the computer. So it is illegal to sell or give it away with either of those 2 OS X version installed. The new owner will not be able to update it or Upgrade it without YOUR Apple ID.

  • Network 23 Level 6 Level 6 (11,500 points)

    The minimalist way to back up would be to make a copy of your user folder (home), since it contains all the folders specific to your account like Documents, Pictures, and Preferences.


    But it can be both easier and better to make a complete, exact copy of your internal drive onto another drive that you have. This way, if you miss anything that you need from your old Mac, you have it and can still move it to your new Mac. Because some of your settings (keychain passwords, special utilities that get installed at the system level, documents and applications made available to all users, the Shared folder if you used it, etc.) may live out in the system-wide settings folders, not inside your user account Home folder.


    You can make a complete copy of your internal drive with Disk Utility that's on your Mac already, or SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner. When you get your new Mac, it should be possible to use Migration Assistant to transfer your data and applications from the old Mac and put it in the right places automatically on the new Mac. But if something doesn't transfer correctly, you can then go to your complete backup and dig out anything you need.


    If you have Lion or Mountain Lion installed you can do the Command-R thing. That boots into the Recovery Partition that can reinstall OS X. If you reset to factory, of course the next person can use the Mac. It will appear to them as a new Mac does: The system has no user info in it, and the first thing that runs is the Welcome first-time setup program where they are required to set up their accounts and enter in their info before they can continue.

  • BobHarris Level 6 Level 6 (12,505 points)

    My preferred pre-software install, pre-software update, pre-computer replacement backup method is to make a full clone back using either SuperDuper (free for full clones) and/or Carbon Copy Cloner.  Both highly respected backup utilities.


    I always make a clone before doing any software update.  I generally make at least 2 clones before a major OS change (Leopard to Snow Leopard to Lion to Mountain Lion type OS changes).  I also generally make at least 2 clones when replacing my current system with a new one, especially if I am going to re-task the old system (or sell it).


    External disks are cheap compared to the value of my data and the loss of family pictures.  <>

  • Network 23 Level 6 Level 6 (11,500 points)

    take2hikes wrote:


    I use Time Machine to do complete backups as is. Is this the same process you are talking about, or is there another "Make Full Back Up" option somewhere?

    Time Machine could be enough. But first study how to retrieve files from a Time Machine backup with a new/different Mac, because I'm not familiar with the details. The nature of how the Time Machine backup is stored, multiple versions of every files, means it's in a special format you can't browse like a regular disk. But you can restore individual files or folders that you need, from any saved state. If you completely lost a Mac to failure or theft, you can have Time Machine completely re-create any backed-up state, like yesterday or 3pm last Thursday. You boot from an OS X system disk/volume and ask Time Machine to restore a state, then you pick one, and it will put one together from the archive. But that's making a full back-up from the back end.


    Disk Utility, SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner simply make an exact copy of the entire volume, includinghidden folders and files, onto another disk. This is a regular volume that you can plug into your Mac and immediately access as if it was any other type of normal disk that you are getting files off of. In addition, this backup can be immediately bootable. If your Mac completely dies, and you go and get another Mac, you could boot from this bootable backup and be fully functional in seconds with all your personalized data because it is an exact copy of your Mac.

    take2hikes wrote:


    Years ago I was using linux and used a command line tool to basically make a mirror back up of my HD. I'm wondering if this is the same thing, and if it's as easy to use on Mac?

    The three utilities I mentioned are all GUI (and free/cheap), so creating a complete backup takes just a couple clicks. And I think the defaults for SD and CCC are to create a bootable backup, so that might be one-click. I think they are basically front ends for the Unix commands for that sort of thing, with some user-friendly enhancements. In Disk Utility, you'd use the "Restore" tab to do a disk-to-disk full copy. The advantage of SD and CCC is that they can also update the backup by writing only changes from last time, so you don't have to wait 2 hours just to update the backup. I think Disk Utility does the whole thing over each time.

    take2hikes wrote:


    Thanks again for your response. I also found some info regarding the Macbook Pro's and most every issue looks to from some device other than the rMBP, aside from the screen burn in. LG's evidently have an issue.. but I'm trying to find what the other maker is that doesn't seem to have an issue, so I can make sure to get that. Do you know anything about that?


    Can't answer this MacBook Pro is not a Retina. But keep this in mind: With all the criticism Apple is getting about iOS 6 Maps, the iPhone 5 camera, OS X 10.7.5, etc., problems with the Retina MBP are simply not in the Mac news at all, so I think while there are people having real problems with the RMBP it is probably within the usual rate that every model has. Good luck!

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,640 points)

    No that is NOT what I am saying. The system has to be returned to the Original OS that came Preinstalled on it. In your case, on your Mac, that is Lion. The new owner can use Lion for as long as he likes since Lion came Pre-Installed it IS TIED to the computer.

    What I am saying is you can NOT sell it with Mt Lion installed on it as Mt Lion is TIED to YOUR Apple ID.


    So you need to restore the system to Lion before you sell it to him.

    Do you know how to do that?


    Problems with Retina models.

    Display burn in.

    Yellow tinted screens.

    Wifi Not working when Buetooth is enabled.

    And there are a few more that  can't remember off the top of my head.

    No Apple has not corrected any of these issues. And they won't unit a second generation comes out, and maybe not even then.


    take2hikes wrote:


    The computer came with Lion.


    So, if I'm reading you right and you're saying that if I reset my computer to defaults he won't be able to use the OS, that is completely re-tarded. The OS should be tied to the computer.


    I'm looking up the Retina models. I had heard they had some display issues with some legacy programs because of their resolution, but I hadn't heard anything about ... everything that I'm seeing on the forums here. I would imagine if these were true issues they would have corrected them all by now.

  • deggie Level 8 Level 8 (44,840 points)

    I happen to know several people with rMBPs they are not experiencing burn-in, only one had a yellow tinted screen and it disappeared after a week of use, none of them have the WiFi/Bluetooth problem.


    If you went by posts here no one would every buy anything. Same thing goes for Dell, HP, Toshiba, Samsung, etc.

  • Network 23 Level 6 Level 6 (11,500 points)

    take2hikes wrote:


    Thanks again to Network 23 as well. I used SuperDuper! and it worked flawlessly. It did take a while though, and I know there is a way to do the exact same thing via the command line - so I am going to look into that. Time Machine + a monthly replica copy of your computer seems a good way to back up.

    I think the command line application people use is rsync, but don't quote me exactly on that.


    Keeping a Time Machine backup + periodic clone backup is a very common and sensible practice among experienced users. I do that too.


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