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Cloning Around

August 23, 2012 - Dave Hecei

Clones are good. I’m not talking about computer clones or evil replicants from a sci-fi movie. Besides, Apple tried having Mac clones in the years before Steve Jobs was brought back to the company he co-founded. It nearly killed the company. I’m talking about hard drive cloning software.

A drive cloning App can take all the data from one hard drive and make an exact duplicate on another hard drive. Cloning is an important tool for backing up your computer. If you use your Mac for business, or even if you just use it at home with the kids, your data is precious, but your time is precious too.

If the worst was to happen and the hard drive in your Mac died, and trust me it’s not if it’s when, what would you do? Hopefully you have some sort of backup of your data. It could be a second hard drive on your system using the built-in Time Machine. Or you could be manually copying your ‘User’ folder to another drive.  Hopefully you are doing something to keep your data safe.

When the boot drive in a Mac dies it is a fairly simple process to replace it. It might have to be done by a trained technician if you have an iMac. Disassembling an iMac to get to the hard drive is tedious and not recommended. After replacing the drive you now have to spend the rest of the day reinstalling the operating system and all your Apps and then your data. This is not difficult just very time consuming.

This is where cloning comes in. The idea of cloning a drive is just like it sounds. To properly clone a drive the cloning App takes all the data from a ‘source’ drive and duplicates it onto a ‘destination’ drive. After the cloning process is done, the destination drive can now be used to boot the Mac just as if it were the original drive. If you have a clone backup of your system and your boot drive were to fail you can boot from the cloned drive and continue working as if nothing bad happened.

After replacing the hard drive the cloning process can then be reversed. The newly replaced drive could be up and running in an hour or so. Compare this to the day it would likely take reinstalling the OS and all your Apps and all your data and all the software updates that have been released.

There are two great cloning tools for the Mac that I highly recommend. Carbon Copy Cloner from Bombich Software, Inc. is the one I use. It is fast, reliable, and fairly easy to understand. The other is called Super Duper from Shirt Pocket. Both versions do pretty much the same thing – create a fully bootable cloned drive. Super Duper is free to use but they do have a paid version that adds some nice automated backup features to the basic cloning tool.

If you value your time as well as your data, cloning your boot drive is a great way to keep your data safe and save you hours or even days of rebuilding your system.


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