The personal website of Chris Coyier

Carbon Copy Cloner + LaCie Drive = Bootable/Restorable Backup

Stephen at work just got a new work laptop because his old one was dying. He ordered a fairly stock MacBook Pro one day, it arrived the next. He restored it from a “bootable backup” he made with Carbon Copy Cloner, and was instantly back to work on the new machine.

I’m sure this is super basic 101 stuff for all y’all, but I’ve never done this before. I was very inspired by the speed and simplicity how he seemed to do it.

In the past when I’ve gotten a new machine, I’ve hooked up old machine to new machine with whatever cable would work (USB-C, probably) and used the Apple startup/setup tool thing to clone over what I could, with mixed success. The trouble with that is that if the old machine totally dies, you can’t exactly do that. I’ve ruined machines before like that. I got ranch dressing in ALL THE PORTS once.

Even if I had catastrophic failure, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. All my code is on Git somewhere. Any software I need I own and can install again. Most of my files are on Dropbox or otherwise clouded. It’s just slow. The bigger trouble is re-installing all the dev environment stuff. Our stuff at work is decently compartmentalized and getting better, but I tip my toes into all sorts of different development. Right now, everything is working just swimmingly and a new machine would really disrupt that. Hence, me being so inspired to have a backup I could restore from that gets me 100% copy of my current well-set-up machine.

So a LaCie Mobile Drive 4TB External HardDrive USB-C USB 3.0 right off Apple.com ran me like $150 and Carbon Copy Cloner was $40. So for less than $200 I have a backup I really trust.

I did have to reformat the drive which took like two seconds in Disk Utility.

I’ll probably run it once a week or so.

I’ve tried stuff like Backblaze before, but I basically didn’t get it. Like that’s cool that all my files are backed up in the cloud, because that can’t burn down or get stolen or whatever, but most of my files are in the cloud anyway. What I really need is an exact copy of my computer on a new machine.