Bootable Clone Super Hero

SmartBackup bootable clone

When my hard drive died, having a bootable clone, immediately available, saved me days of work, restoring Mac OS and all of my apps. Time Machine and Crash Plan backups were useful, but my clone took centre stage; it had me up and running again, within minutes. All I had to do was to select my bootable clone as my new Startup Disk in System Preferences and restart.

Almost everyone will eventually experience a hard drive crash. If you haven’t had a crash already, unfortunately, the clock is ticking. Data loss can be avoided by taking a few simple precautions. I’m convinced that one of the precautions should be to create and maintain a bootable clone of your startup disk. Most people who create bootable Mac clones use either Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper. Both apps are time-tested and very trustworthy; I don’t have a single complaint about either one of them; they served me well for years. This post will highlight a lesser known, but equally impressive backup app.

When I upgraded to Lion, Mac OS X 10.7, one of my goals was to select 64-bit apps, whenever possible. I chose SmartBackup.

SmartBackup icon

Q: Why SmartBackup?
A: SmartBackup:

  • is 64-bit (CCC and SuperDuper are 32 bit)
  • is fast
  • has a very attractive UI
  • SmartBackup UI

  • will archive changed and deleted files, if that’s something you want (archived files are browse-able and can be easily restored)
  • has a commandline mode
  • can be automated
  • is very well supported by Thomas Bauer, the developer

The best way to be certain that you have a current bootable clone, available at all times, is to automate the entire process.

Create an automated bootable SmartBackup clone:

  1. install SmartBackup in your applications folder
  2. launch SmartBackup in SuperUser mode (set in preferences, or for the App Store version using SuperUser launcher)
  3. SmartBackup preferences

  4. select the destination volume for your new backup
  5. add your startup volume as the source
  6. now create a LaunchDaemon plist file (downloadable example)
  7. SmartBackup LaunchDaemon plist

  8. place the LaunchDaemon plist file in the /Library/LaunchDaemons folder (not /Users/username/Library/ and not /System/Library)
  9. if you’re using Lion (Mac OS X 10.7.x) you’ll have to change the ownership of your LaunchDaemon plist file to root (in Terminal app, type "sudo chown root /Library/LaunchDaemons/smartbackup.plist" without the quotes and then press return)
  10. restart and you’re backup will run, silently in the background, at the time you selected (you can always check when the last backup executed by launching SmartBackup).

>> download my LaunchDaemon plist as a template

Note: You’ll have to edit the backup location (I use /Volumes/FWE Backup) and start time (mine runs at 0100 hrs. (1 am) daily).

Comment: If you think this looks like a lot of work, remember, once these eight, straightforward, steps are completed, your backup will execute every day, automatically. Then, at a future date, when disaster strikes you’ll be back in action, in just minutes; after booting from your bootable clone super hero.

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Thomas Bauer

Thank you very much for writing so nicely about SmartBackup.

I just wanted to note that the App Store version of SmartBackup (which is the only one available by now) does not have the preference for superuser-mode launching because it needs to adhere the App Store guidelines. Instead, a free tool, the SuperUser launcher is available from the website which does the same thing.

This difference only affects manually launching in SuperUser mode. Everything else (like your great automation example) is unchanged.

Thomas .