How to easily clone your Mac using SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner

How to easily clone your Mac using SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner

Cloning produces an instantly bootable copy of your hard drive. Here are two popular methods

Even if you're backing up your Mac using Time Machine or another method, you may eventually need to clone your hard drive as well. Cloning produces an exact duplicate of your hard drive, bootable from your Mac. If your main drive fails, it can be a life-saver.

There are a number of good reasons to clone: Upgrading your hard drive, for example, or working off an external drive for some reason, such as if you're Mac is in the shop getting something else fixed, and you're relegated to a backup machine. Maybe you just want to have an extra version of your hard drive on hand in case of emergencies.

Of the many ways to clone your Mac's hard drive, I'm focusing on two: Shirt Pocket Software's SuperDuper! and Bombich Software's Carbon Copy Cloner. They're both popular, well-supported software apps. Here are instructions for using them.

What you'll need

To get started, you'll need a few things:

  • An external hard disk drive or drive mechanism connected via a dock or caddy
  • Shirt Pocket's SuperDuper!, or
  • Bombich Software's Carbon Copy Cloner

You'll need to prepare the new disk by formatting it using Disk Utility.

To prepare your clone using Disk Utility

  1. Double-click the Disk Utility icon in the Utilities folder
  2. Click on the drive icon that corresponds to your clone drive in the sidebar.
  3. Click on the Erase tab.
  4. Make sure Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is selected from the Format menu.
  5. Click on the Erase... button.
  6. Verify you want to erase the disk.

If you've done it successfully, you should see a new hard drive icon appear on your desktop.

To clone your Mac using SuperDuper!

  1. Double-click on the SuperDuper! app icon.
  2. If it's not already selected, select your Mac's hard drive in the pop-up menu next to Copy.
  3. Select the target hard drive in the to pop up menu.
  4. Make sure the using pop-up menu reads "Backup — all files."
  5. Click the Copy Now button.
  6. SuperDuper! will ask for your administrator password to continue.

SuperDuper! will copy all of the files onto the new hard drive.

SuperDuper! enables you to create a clone of your Mac even if you haven't registered it. If you pay Shirt Pocket the $27 registration fee, you'll unlock a slew of additional useful features, like scheduling, Smart Update, Sandboxes, scripting and more. In particular, Smart Update is really handy if you'd like to keep your clone up to date instead of having to duplicate it each time, to save time.

To clone your Mac using Carbon Copy Cloner

  1. Double-click on the Carbon Copy Cloner app icon.
  2. Click on the Source pop-up menu and select your Mac's boot volume from the list of local volumes.
  3. Select your clone drive from the Destination menu.
  4. Click the Clone button.
  5. Carbon Copy Cloner will give you the option of setting up a recovery partition on the target drive. You can use built-in tools to create one if you wish (useful if you're building a replacement hard drive).

As you can see, it's a pretty straightforward operation. Once you've done it, you'll have an exact copy of your Mac's internal hard drive. If you're upgrading, now you can put the new mechanism in your Mac!

Have you cloned your Mac yet? Run into any difficulty? Prefer a different method than these two? Sound off in the comments.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Peter Cohen

Mac Managing Editor of iMore and weekend Apple Product Professional at a local independent Apple reseller. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

How to easily clone your Mac using SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner


Peter's articles are so, well, just spot on.
I had the very, very, first MacBook Pro, March 2006 Core Duo. I loved its 15" screen and 100GB hard drive for many years. Then one day somebody smarter than me said I could make it like new by getting an SSD for it, and at 128GB, it would be bigger and even more useful than my original rotating drive, and multi-Machs faster.
So we did it, using Carbon Copy Cloner via USB to engage the new SSD, then installed it! Worked great (and quickly) for a long time until I finally fried the whole shootin' match with a carelessly placed Molson's last fall (please, I don't remember the details).
I now have the 13" retina MacBook Pro, so I have few regrets other than a lighter wallet and slightly smaller screen.
That very first MagSafe charger, with the MagSafe 2 adapter, which at 9.99 I think is the cheapest thing ever sold by Apple, still works perfectly with the new MacBook Pro, and Apple recycled the old computer, dried Molson skin and all.

I use time Machine Only. My question is, if my Mac crapped out and I had to buy a new one would I not be able to just plug in my external hard drive and reload all my data to the new Mac?

Posted via the Android iMore App!

Yep. When you first set up a Mac one of the first things it asks you during setup is if you'd like to restore from a Time Machine backup.

Clones are a complementary backup strategy to Time Machine, or for people who are upgrading their systems with new hard drives, for example.

I have done exactly that, twice. The first time was with the aforementioned ancient MacBook Pro, which had been Time Machine backed up. My first replacement was a MacBook Air just before a holiday trip to Florida last fall, "restored" via the Time Machine backup. I then backed the new Air up to an external 1T Toshiba Canvio Slim until it choked on one of my wife's video files using iMovie. So we ran it over to the nearest Best Buy and exchanged it for a more powerful MacBook Pro. That night, in a hotel room, we "restored" the MacBook Pro via Time Machine and the Toshiba jewel to the new computer. Unbelievably, everything I had kept on the local drive was still there through three machine iterations; programs, data, and preferences.
I love my Macs, and my Toshiba external drive.
There are still some cookies, passwords, and whatnot that don't get through, but they are no big deal relative to the amount that just works.
I hope this helps you. What I was talking about earlier is replacing the hard drive, which can be nearly impossible with modern machines, although even that can be done with Time Machine if it's hardware possible. It's not as perfect as Carbon Copy Clone, though, if you have fair warning that a replacement's coming.

I have used SuperDuper! on my MacBook and PS3 to upgrade both hard drives... it worked like a charm each time... great program!

I wanted to do a fresh install of osx on my 2009 13" MacBook Pro. Have cloned my hard drive using superdupa, but now can't seem to get the new os to download using option+r... Anyone know what I've done wrong? Superdupa worked like a charm mind you! Have a working bootable clone of my hd!

I may be wrong on this, but I don't think SuperDuper creates a recovery partition - it only clones the partition you've selected. So unless you created a recovery partition on the target volume using Disk Utility, you probably can't use option-R to recover.

(Carbon Copy Cloner gives you the option of creating a recovery partition when you first clone the drive, however.)

Every one of my Macs are cloned once a week. When my old PowerBook finally died it was cloned, so in essence it lives on in an OWC FW drive that I still boot off of on my G5 iMac. Every Mac user should be cloning their drives along with using Time Machine. If your drive goes you can be up and running in minutes.

SupperDuper or Carbon Copy? I have just bought a WD My Book Studio 3 TB for back up purposes. Which one us the best?

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I had just cloned using CCC last Thursday. I'm not experienced at this kind of thing. I read the tutorials and did make a Recovery HD partition to be able to boot from from the drive. I used a USB 2.0 drive but 4 hours later I have peace of mind I have a full bootable backup. :)

Hi, You have mentioned 2 software for cloning Mac but I cloned my Mac with a different software 'Stellar Drive Clone'. This software also clones Recovery HD partition along with creating a Mac bootable DVD as like other software CCC.

Is it better or worse to use DiskUtility to create and image of my HD as opposed to using one of these third party apps?


A knowledgeable question you have striked over here about cloning and imaging with 'Disk Utility'. Let me allow to mention that there are many Mac novice, who find DU a bit confusing and these cases make the data loss chances a little high. Always going for Data Recovery software isn't suitable as well as time consuming. As mentioned above, CCC and Stellar Drive Clone work efficiently for backing up data and making bootable clone of Mac OS X.

Good Luck !

I bought a bigger hard drive than what me start up disk was and used super duper to clone it. How do I delete the old drive so I can use it to store stuff on or can I?

I just now cloned Toshiba 500 GB HDD taken out of a dead 2011 15" Mac Pro to SanDisk 480 GB SSD sing CCC.
Two observations . . .
- 417.78 GB used on Source Disk, 402.38 GB used on Cloned SSD disc.
- The new computer on which CCC is installed for cloning, does not boot from cloned SSD. [using either of the passwords 1st used on the compter where source drive was removed from 2nd used on the new laptop]

The old computer went dead is 2011 Mac Pro 15"
The new one is 2014 Mac Pro 15" (bought 1 week back)

Please let me know, what direction should I take to resolve the differences including booting from External SSD.

Please, I have a Macbook Pro with damaged hdd. so I bought a new hdd. I tried installing the new hdd but it brings out the folder flashing icon. I borrowed a macbook air to clone its hard drive via carbon copy cloner. but now i can t seem to do that cos am told i cant clone a live drive. Pls help.

Recently I tried the software which had cloned my 1 TB Seagate ExFAT hard drive successfully. Also this amazing software supports for MBR partition scheme with the option to provide a bootable DVD.

I used Super Duper to clone my 2009 MacBook Hard Drive which I believe was 160gb and was running out of space. I got a 1TB Passport for Mac to make the copy then installed a new 1TB SATA hard drive. Problem is once all that was done it says I still have no space, the drive is 99% full, how can that be? How could that 160gb fill 1TB? I am trying to access my original hard drive to see if i can redo this process without disassembling again but the original hard drive isn't showing up as a hard drive, it's like disk image.

What likely happened is that cloning the old drive made a cloned partition of the old drive on the new drive, and that partition is still 160 gb big. If this is the case you have a few options

1) Boot computer using old drive. Attach new drive in enclosure to computer. Use disk utility to expand the size of the partition.
2) Using another mac, boot up the old computer in target disk mode. Use the other mac to also use disk utility to expand the partition on the target disk computer.

The main problem here is that OSX cant modify the partition it is running off of.

Hello. Maybe someone can help. What I want is very simple, at least in theory: I'd like to do a full backup of all internal drives of my Mac Pro to an external hard drive. However: I want password protection on the external hard drive so that no one can access the contents (at least not without tremendous effort) without the password.

I have looked into TrueCrypt. The problem with it is that it is incompatible with Time Machine. This is a shame since it would offer the password and encryption protection I am seeking.

So, then I thought I could use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone my internal drives to the external hard drive, and then password protect the whole thing with True Crypt. The disadvantage here is that I don't think Carbon Copy Cloner compresses like Time Machine does. Also, from what I understand, Time Machine would be easier to do a restore in the event of a full restore vs. Carbon Copy Cloner.

Any suggestions as to what would be the best solution to clone or backup to an external hard drive, and have the external hard drive password protected?

many thanks