Clone your drive reliably

Published 31 Oct 2010 | Under

Not too long ago I needed to restore my macbook to a new drive, things weren’t exactly happy and I really wanted to try out my trusty Apple Time Capsule.

As you’ll no doubt be aware Apple produce a product called the Time Capsule which when used in conjunction with Apple Time Machine allows you to wirelessly backup 1 or many OSX machines, this is actually an awesomely good tool and I’ve been trying this setup recently however my results weren’t too happy.

There I was, after backup number 44 with Time Machine reporting another successful backup, I thought ‘hey why dont I try putting in a blank drive and using the migration assistant to restore my macbook from the time capsule?’, sounds straight forward alas not so.

So after placing a blank drive in the macbook I then put in Snow Leopard, installed it and ran Migration Assistant, typed in my Time Capsule access passwords and kapow! was greeted with a rather scary “Connection Failed!” message. Tried again no dice, reset passwords, no go, checked system logs, sorry you’re screwed, damn it I thought.

Then I thought “why not simply take the drive out of the Time Capsule and place it in a HDD Enclosure then access it as an external drive, should work?”. Pulled back the rubber backing of the Capsule, unscrewed and re-mounted the drive into a 3.5 enclosure and fired it up. Result = no dice, seems that the Airport feature creates three partitions on the drive, one for the system, another for a cache or scratch disk and another for your files; however this one isn’t mountable so again no dice.

Now I’ve restored from a Time Machine backup on an external drive ok but it seems via Time Capsule it isn’t so cut-n-dry, so I began hunting for alternatives, best one I found was a tool called Carbon Copy Cloner.


What CCC does is allow you to take a complete backup of your drive and clone it to an external drive, you can do a full copy or an incremental over time similar to Time Machine.

So I tried it out and can report it does exactly what it says and brilliantly, if you want to do a full clone then use the options I selected above as an example, it’s quick and can be used without paying for it so you don’t have to hand over readies quickly; but if you’re as impressed as me by the results you probably will.

I cloned my entire system drive to an external drive, then placed the external inside the macbook and booted from that and absolutely no problems.

The worst I had to do was run Cocktail to check for any drive permission errors which is pretty standard if you’re swapping drives, super simple and reliable.

Sorry Apple, I’ll be using CCC in the future.

Thumbs up.