Drive-cloning utilities: The best Mac apps for making a bootable backup

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For making a clone and regularly updating it to reflect changes to the source volume, I could use SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner interchangeably—I have no reason to prefer one over the other. However, given my particular cloning needs and preferences, I find myself using Carbon Copy Cloner most of the time.

For one thing, I like to encrypt my clone backups using FileVault, and for that task I appreciate Carbon Copy Cloner’s Recovery HD support. I also like the safety net of being able to archive older and deleted files while cloning (although I still maintain separate versioned backups). I tried SuperDuper’s Sandbox feature with the beta version of Yosemite, but while it’s interesting in principle, I found that my own usage patterns don’t benefit significantly from that setup. And although both apps offer scheduling, a scheduled task in SuperDuper runs, at most, once a day, whereas a task in Carbon Copy Cloner can run as often as once an hour. (To get multiple runs per day using SuperDuper, you must set up a separate task for each occurrence.) Finally, although I can see the logic in how each app presents options for things like deselecting files and deleting files on the destination volume before cloning, I find Carbon Copy Cloner’s interface to be closer to the way I think.

Whichever app you choose, be sure to test any clone backup immediately after you create it by restarting with the Option key held down and choosing the backup drive as the startup volume. If it doesn’t boot correctly, you can look for a solution now—before your drive dies and you need the backup for real!

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