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by David Saunders on February 15, 2019

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I am often asked if I have a backup of my Mac. And unfortunately for the person asking the question, I’m a little like the watchmaker who, when you ask him what time it is, he tells you how to make a watch. First the answer is definitely, “yes!”Chaco Women's Zvolv 2 Athletic Sandal B01H4XAI8O 5 M US|Verdant BlackCaterpillar Women's Ellie/Dark Beige Work Boot B01L0OTEW4 5.5 W US|Dark Beige In fact, I have 3 local backups of sorts.

I contend that you must have at least two different local backups, for two likely events:

  1. For the event that your hard drive fails and gets replaced.New Brieten Women's Rhinestone Cut Out Wedge Platform Slide Sandals B00HVUT1PW 9 B(M) US|Fuchsia
  2. For the event that your Mac fails and you decide to replace it.Brooks Womens Adrenaline GTS 18 B0725GTWY8 10.5 B(M) US|Black/Black

And if you have the two backups that I suggest below, you can recover from either event in just a few minutes to an hour or so.

So if you haven’t already, purchase two external hard drives. Ariat Women's Fusion Athletic Shoe B01C3AMB6K 8.5 B(M) US|HeatherThey should be the same storage capacity as the drive that you are backing up. I like the Lacie Thunderbolt drives for this purpose. But you may like another drive better, and that’s just fine. As long as the drives are reliable, your data will be safely stored for the day that disaster comes.

So without belaboring the point, I will tell you what my two backup systems and my bonus backup (my 3rd local backup).

  1. SuperDuper! – hard drive clone.
  2. Time Machine – Apple’s built-in backup system.

And my bonus local backup:

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SuperDuper! is software that creates an exact bootable clone of your hard drive. You can find it at the Trotters Women's Lauren Dress Wedge B00XQE8ZTU 7 N US|Dark Grey D Suede site. Let me tell you how this averted disaster for me on at least two occasions.

SuperDuper! getting started.

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A few years back, I had an iMac that began failing after running for an hour or so. For a few days, the time to failure got a little shorter. I had a backup, but wasn’t looking forward to putting everything back on a new hard drive. I knew that cloning a drive was theoretically possible, but I had never put it to the test.

I began by searching for software that would make an exact, bootable copy of the hard drive. Converse Unisex Low Top Chuck Taylor All Star II Canvas Shoes B01HAFTW74 8 US W/6 US M/EUR 39|Sodalite BlueMy research turned up SuperDuper! I figured out that if I let the computer power down and cool off, it would run long enough to finish the cloning of the drive. That was fortunate, and not usually the way things work out.

I purchased an internal hard drive and connected it with an adapter that turns an internal drive into an external drive. Bonus:Cambridge Select Women's Closed Toe Glitter Encrusted Lace-up Casual Sport Fashion Sneaker B07DX7Z863 6.5 B(M) US|Red. Nice.

Using SuperDuper!, I cloned the drive. When the clone finished, I rebooted the iMac and caused it to boot from the external drive.SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Women's Meteor Sneaker B076BWCHL4 36.5 B EU|Paillette Scintillate To my amazement, although much slower than the internal hard drive, the computer booted up and I saw my desktop screen exactly as I expected. Every icon in place.Chaco Women's ZX/1 Yampa Sandal B005CSSEMG 12 B(M) US|Tropic I tried a few programs to convince myself that I had indeed cloned the drive. All of my little tests worked perfectly.

To finish the job, I found an explanation of how to replace the internal iMac drive on YouTube. I removed the failing drive from my iMac and put the cloned in its place. I closed everything up and powered up.

The iMac was working exactly as before the change, only better. The hard drive was faster and had a higher capacity. Win win.

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This case, rather recently, made me glad that I follow my own rules of backing everything up (twice) before applying an OS X update. In this case, I was updating to El Capitan (OS X 10.11), so I made my usual SuperDuper! clone, as well as the Time Machine backup.

Upon installing the update, I got the spinning color wheel. After several attempts to restart the process, it stayed spinning over night. I made an appointment for the local Apple Genius Bar, hopefully they could help my finish the update.

They had never heard of a Retina Macbook Pro SSD drive failing–until that day. Apparently, by downloading the update,Pleaser Women's Adore-1016 Ankle Boot B01N08HHYK 10 B(M) US|White Faux Leather/White the drive accessed an area that had not previously been accessed. And so I was caught in a loop. The update had gotten to that spot where the old OS was no longer available,NAOT Women's Sirocco Boot B00TQAEZZ6 38 EU (7-7.5 B(M) US|Volcanic Brown/Bronze Shimmer/Grecian Gold but the new OS had not been fully installed.

The Apple Genius asked if I had a backup. I smiled and simply said yes. I wanted to tell him all about my various backup procedures, but I refrained.

So, the procedure at this point was to replace the SSD drive. Naturalizer Women's Mason Slide Sandal B073X1KH55 6.5 W US|MarbleWhen asked if I wanted them to restore from a backup, I declined. I knew that I might have better results with my SuperDuper! backup than with the Time Machine backup.

In this instance, where only the hard drive is being replaced, SuperDuper! is by far the easiest recovery. I followed the instructions on the Shirt-Pocket website:

  1. Boot from the external drive (a clone of my hard drive)
  2. Open SuperDuper! and tell it to restore everything
  3. Wait until SuperDuper! is done and quit.
  4. Shut down the computer
  5. Remove the external drive
  6. Boot the computer as normal

As I had experienced previously, everything came back exactly as it had been before the failure. I then updated to El Capitan without incident. I’m writing this post from that computer.

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In this case, the hard drive may or may not have failed,ECCO Women's Yucatan Sandal B076ZX9LT8 37 EU/6-6.5 M US|White/Powder but some other vital component has failed, and the best option is to replace the computer. Here’s where Time Machine really shines. Time Machine brings a new computer as close to the same as your old computer as it possibly can.

In the case of a new computer, you probably don’t want a clone of the drive! Drew Shoe Men's Lightning II V Sneakers B00AB3IHAG 10.5 D(M) US|Black ComboYou’re getting the new OS X version, already installed in that computer. Sam Edelman Women's Patti Dress Sandal B015GIV7P2 9 B(M) US|Black Patent.

Trust the Apple Time Machine to bring over all your settings and apps to the new computer.

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What was the third backup (of sorts) mentioned earlier? That’s the sync between my main computer and my travel computer.FRYE Women's Clara OTK Leather Slouch Boot B018YLY7J6 6.5 B(M) US|BlackThat’s the topic of another post. I’ll write that one soon. If you’re interested, ask about it in the comments below. I’ll gladly tell you what that third backup is all about. Hint: Sam Edelman Women's Rheta Wedge Sandal B073DR1WV5 6 B(M) US|Fiji Pink.

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Keep two backups of your computer:

  1. SuperDuper!
  2. Time Machine


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February 23, 2016

Here’s a random find from my studio. It’s the original Voice Name List for the Korg 01/Wpro and 01/WproX Synthesizers. It includes the original Programs and Combinations. Let me know if this helps! 01Wpro 01WproX Voice Name List (PDF)

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October 23, 2015

This is now my 4th post on transposing a song imported from iTunes. This is for version 10.1.0 of GarageBand, which came with OS X 10.11 El Capitan. See my third post if you’re using GarageBand 10.0.3 to transpose a song imported from iTunes. My previous post was written in January 2014. If you have an earlier […]

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December 8, 2014

Extend Your Network with an AirPort Extreme This is my second post on using an Apple Airport Extreme to extend the range of your wireless network. The Airport Extreme and the software utility to set it up have changed quite a bit since my first post over 6 years ago! But the concepts are still […]

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November 19, 2014

SEO by Content Creation   I wish the SEO books had been written years ago when I started creating the website (using a text editor) for our family apartment buildings. Not much was available at the time. Fortunately, we discovered what the search engines of the time were looking for and applied the principles. Amazingly, the […]

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