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A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: January 02, 2023 06:38PM
A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)

Hi everyone,

I migrated to Monterey at home (under duress). There is a bug in Photos and iOS 16 that rears its ugly head under Mojave and moving to Monterey solved it. Unfortunately, moving to Monterey kaiboshed my normal routine of using Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) to make easy complete clone backups of my system. Apple doesn’t allow it these days and attempting it under Carbon Copy Cloner 6 (CCC6) is too much of a maybe for me to risk it. Bombich recommends an alternative method. I adapted his recommendation to develop my own process.

Here is Bombich’s blog post that details the change(s) that forced me to revise my cloning strategy:

[bombich.com]

Here is the strategy I developed as a result of reading the blog. Note, this doesn't replace an incremental backup system like Time Machine. Think of it as something that compliments or supplements it. And, it's definitely useful to create a clone prior to installing a new flavor of the OS or performing major software upgrades.

My “three drive plan” for making a pseudo-clone of your machine’s boot drive under macOS Big Sur or newer:

I developed this as a direct result of what Bombich wrote in his blog.

Past experience with Migration Assistant has taught me never to use it to transfer data and such from a properly running full scale boot drive. It’s hosed primary boot drives on occasion. So, I _only_ use it to restore from a clone or a Time Machine backup. That is why I adapted Bombich’s recommendations into a three drive system. It takes more time to complete the “clone” but adds a safety factor lacking in other methods.

Here is what you’ll need:

1. Primary Drive (aka the boot drive of your machine)
2. Drive for the OS aka OS Drive which becomes a full working “pseudo-clone” (aka Pseudo-Clone) upon completion of the process
3. Drive for a CCC6 backup of the data which you’ll use as a source when making the pseudo-clone (aka Data Drive)

Steps:

1. Wipe Data-Drive and use the “Standard Backup” option and backup the data of Primary Drive onto the newly nuked Data Drive.
2. Wipe and reinstall the OS onto the OS Drive (which will become the Pseudo-Clone upon completion of step 3).
3. Use Migration Assistant to copy the data from Data Drive to OS Drive. Once this is done, the OS Drive is now the Pseudo-Clone.
4. Boot off Pseudo-Clone and test it to ensure all is good and that it is a working bootable clone of the primary drive.

I tested the above system three times to make sure it worked. The first time time I created a working bootable clone of my 2015 MBPr. Easy peasy. No problems except for one issue which is more of an annoyance than an actual problem. I used CCC6 to backup the data (and 3rd party apps and such) using the “Standard Backup” to a spare SSD (aka Data-Drive). I installed Monterey onto a second spare SSD (aka OS Drive). Once the OS was on OS Drive, I used Migration Assistant to copy all of the data from Data-Drive to the OS Drive. It took a while but worked.

After I had the clone working, I rebooted back to the original drive and that’s when the annoyance reared its annoying head. Upon reaching the Finder, the Install OS X Monterey app immediately opened as if I intended to use it to install the OS onto a drive. I rebooted of the primary drive and it happened again. This is the aforementioned annoyance. The only way to stop the Install OS Monterey app from opening was to delete it.

Obviously, deleting the app prevents the OS from opening it as if it was a startup app. My complaint is that the issue shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. The installer shouldn’t open automatically in the first place. ‘course, me being me, I compressed the installer into a .zip file. That way, I could delete the installer but still have quick access to it in the event I need it in the future.

Since the method worked on the spare machine, I tried it with my wife’s MBPr. No problems. Took less time since her MBPr is a newer, faster machine than my 2015 MBPr. And, had the same issue with the Monterey installer. I solved the problem the same way. Compressed it into a .zip file and deleted the original. FYI, the external SSDs used for the above tests were 2.5” models in USB-C enclosures. On the 2015 MBPr, I used a USB-C to USB A cable for the connection. I used Thunderbolt 3 ports and appropriate USB cables for the connection on the newer MBPr.

After testing the method on my 2015 MBPr and proving it on my wife’s MBPr, I tried it on my 27” iMac 2019, which is my primary machine at home. In the case of my iMac, I used three 2TB Inland Performance NVME sticks, very fast NVME M.2 SSDs. Two of them are in Envoy Express enclosures. The third is in a USB 3.1 Gen 2 enclosure. One stick, which is in an Envoy Express, is my primary boot drive (which has 1.3 TB of OS and data on it. The second stick, also in an Envoy Express, became OS Drive for the clone. The third stick was used for the CCC6 standard backup of my boot drive aka Data-Drive.

I followed the same procedures and, again, it proved successful. Since two of the sticks are very fast NVME SSDs in Thunderbolt 3 enclosures, the whole process took _much_ less time. 30 minutes to create the backup onto Data-Drive. 20 minutes to install the OS on the OS Drive. Unfortunately, I forgot to notate how long it took Migration Assistant to transfer everything from the Data-Drive to the OS Drive. It didn’t take nearly as long as anticipated. The end result, though, was a bootable “Pseudo-Clone” of my primary boot drive aka Pseudo-Clone. The annoyance didn't rear its ugly head when I cloned my iMac's boot drive.

On one hand, I prefer the old way of making clones with Carbon Copy Cloner. It used CCC only (which is a very reliable app), the source drive and the destination drive. Two drives. Easy. However, there is something to be said for three drive system I’m using now. Making the clone from a backup rather than your fully operational working primary boot drive actually adds a safety factor that is missing from the old methods of cloning with just CCC or Migration Assistant. If something goes wrong during the clone process, the only drives affected, in theory, are the backup drive and the OS drive. It’s easy enough to reboot off Primary Drive and start the process over.

My one major concern is the reliability of Migration Assistant. I've found it flakey in the past and I'm concerned about having to rely on it as a part of the clone process. You do what you gotta do, though. If I have to use it, so be it.

Robert



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2023 07:09PM by Robert M.
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Tiangou
Date: January 02, 2023 06:53PM
For a one-shot backup right before an OS upgrade, why not just make a clone onto a "Clone Drive" with the Legacy Bootable Copy Assistant?

[bombich.com]

...The main problem with a bootable clone is with ongoing incremental backups. Incremental backups of the data-volume will probably cause compatibility issues with the boot-volume on the backup drive unless you religiously boot to the backup to install the same OS updates/upgrades as on your original volume.



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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: January 02, 2023 07:07PM
Tiangou,

Bombich doesn't recommend Legacy Bootable Copy assistant even though it's still an option in Carbon Copy Cloner. I read the blog and understand where he is coming from, which makes me leery of using it.

Not sure where you got the idea that I'm using this for a one-shot backup prior to an OS upgrade and/or using it in place of an incremental backup system like Time Machine. That is not the case and I never said either in my post.

I use clones as compliment/supplement to an incremental backup system and online storage/syncing systems like Dropbox and iCloud drive. Maybe I should have pointed out that the "Data-Drive" gets wiped prior to the clone process and that this doesn't replace an incremental system. I'll update my original post accordingly.

And, I always_ make a clone of a system prior to a major OS or software upgrade. That's in addition to regularly cloning my primary boot drive.

Robert



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2023 07:10PM by Robert M.
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Tiangou
Date: January 02, 2023 07:18PM
Quote
Robert M
I always_ make a clone of a system prior to a major OS or software upgrade. That's in addition to regularly cloning my primary boot drive.

Then I'm not sure what you're objecting to in my last post. smiling smiley



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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: jonny
Date: January 02, 2023 07:23PM
Does Legacy Bootable Copy Assistant work for M1/M2 machines?
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: January 02, 2023 07:30PM
Tiangou,

I object to you implying I suggested things in my post that I didn't suggest or say at all. Hope the edits clarify things.

As an aside, you raised an important issue with clones and incremental backups. It brings to mind a question...

Wouldn't that same issue be a problem if I booted off the Recovery Drive of a machine, wiped the volume, reinstalled the OS and then used Migration Assistant to restore from a Time Machine backup?

Robert



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2023 07:30PM by Robert M.
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: mattkime
Date: January 02, 2023 09:55PM
While I did full boot disk clones for a long time back in the day, I just don't find them worth the trouble anymore.

I've found time machine to be reliable even if I need to start a fresh backup once in a while. For added redundancy, add a cloud backup. Yes, there is some non zero chance that you'll need to reinstall the OS and your apps but its been a loooong time since I found it necessary.

Lets see if my Mac dies before I post this...



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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Tiangou
Date: January 02, 2023 11:21PM
Quote
Robert M
Wouldn't that same issue be a problem if I booted off the Recovery Drive of a machine, wiped the volume, reinstalled the OS and then used Migration Assistant to restore from a Time Machine backup?

You mean that the migrated user-data would potentially be out of date for the OS that you recovered to?

No. That's normal and acceptable. (Your settings will presumably be updated as you launch your apps.)

It's kind of the opposite of that.

You can't migrate data backed up from a more recent version of the OS than the one you're migrating to.

But you can clone your data volume from a recent OS onto a drive with an obsolete system volume.

That could hose a lot of stuff.

There's also apparently a potential issue that may make your backup unbootable if you continue with incremental backups of the data volume onto a drive that was configured using the Legacy Assistant. I'm not clear on what goes wrong, but Bombich mentions it in his documentation.







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2023 11:22PM by Tiangou.
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: January 03, 2023 05:55AM
Tiangou,

That's the thing. If the OS installer on the recovery drive is from an older flavor of the MacOS (which is the case on my machine) the new boot volume created using the Recovery System isn't going to have the current OS on it. It will have the older OS on it. Seems like the Recovery Drive needs updated an OS installer else you risk installing the older flavor of the MacOS.

Assuming you use the existing installer for the OS, once booted from the newly installed OS volume, you'll be migrating data from the Time Machine backup affiliated with the newer OS to new data volume. Seems like it'd be doing exactly what you said could hose things.

Robert
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Tiangou
Date: January 03, 2023 06:25AM
Quote
Robert M
Tiangou,

That's the thing. If the OS installer on the recovery drive is from an older flavor of the MacOS (which is the case on my machine) the new boot volume created using the Recovery System isn't going to have the current OS on it. It will have the older OS on it. Seems like the Recovery Drive needs updated an OS installer else you risk installing the older flavor of the MacOS.

Assuming you use the existing installer for the OS, once booted from the newly installed OS volume, you'll be migrating data from the Time Machine backup affiliated with the newer OS to new data volume. Seems like it'd be doing exactly what you said could hose things.

You can't migrate the data made under a new OS to an old OS. The Migration Assistant will refuse to do it. Sometimes, it will offer to upgrade the OS on the Mac to allow the migration.

Example:

You're running macOS 10.15.2. Try to migrate from a backup made under 10.15.7 and it will tell you that it can't migrate from that volume.

...

The Recovery volume will update to the latest version of the OS that you install on the internal boot drive. If you have an old Recovery volume, you can hold down Command+Option+R (on Intel Macs) to boot to an Internet Recovery option to install the latest version of the OS that will run on your Mac.



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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: January 03, 2023 06:47AM
Tiangou,

Interesting. The OS on the recovery volume of my 2019 iMac isn't Monterey. It's Mojave since that was what was on the machine when I purchased it.

I've only booted off the internal drive once and that was when I first purchased the machine. Had to make sure it worked properly. Threw an account on it just for giggles. If I boot off the Recovery Drive and wipe the boot volume, it'll want to install Mojave on the new boot volumes. What you're saying is that if I did that, Migration Assistant would refuse to migrate data from the Time Machine backup since it was created/updated under Monterey. That's annoying.

Glad I removed the existing Time Machine drive from the machine prior to moving from Mojave to Monterey and started a fresh one with a new, higher capacity drive. At least, if the unlikely event I need to use the Time Machine backup, Migration Assistant won't have an issue with it.

'course, I haven't actually had to restore from a Time Machine backup in years. It's been so long I can't even remember the last time I used a Time Machine backup for a restoration.

Robert
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: gadje
Date: January 03, 2023 08:15AM
my head hurts just from reading this thread.

What happened to the good old days when CCC and SuperDuper just worked?
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: January 03, 2023 08:41AM
gadje,

Apple decided those days were no longer suitable for us when it released macOS Big Sur.

Robert
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: January 04, 2023 08:48AM
Matt,

The reason for having a current clone is about reducing downtime. If my machine's boot drive fails (for whatever reason), I can boot off the clone, let the machine update data via syncing with the cloud and go back to work. Minimal downtime. Usually all of a few minutes. Restoring from a time Machine backup takes far more time. Downtime is an issue when you're using a computer to run a company. Anything that reduces downtime in the event of a failure is worthwhile.

This is not to say I lack other machines to use while restoring a primary machine to working order. I have at least one or two other machines on hand that can do the job. Easy enough to take the clone to one of them, boot off it and go back to work. However, that means I'm taking a computer away from an employee, which hinders him/her when doing his/her job. That's an issue.

FWIW, I wish Apple provided a way to clone a boot drive in addition to Time Machine for incremental backups. Or, at least give Bombich its blessing to fully support cloning the old way. I doubt either will happen anytime in the future, near or distant.

Robert
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: kj
Date: January 04, 2023 01:06PM
I bought a bigger HD for my 2015 mbp from owc, and made a CCC to an older usb drive, and it isn't bootable (of course). From what I could tell, drives have to be encrypted now to be a bootable drive. I also noticed the old drive isn't formatted with APFS, so obviously, that isn't going to work. Hopefully some of this helps, but I'll have to look at it after work because I can't follow it while working (I lack the horsepower).

I'm hoping I don't have difficulty getting all my apps reauthorized, etc, but 128gig just ain't enough.
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: January 04, 2023 03:08PM
kj,

What OS is on the 2015MBP? If it's Big Sur or newer, then you have to use the Legacy Bootable Copy Assistant (in CCC6) for the clone or the method I detailed in my original post for the clone. Might need to use the same methods in CCC6 if you're cloning a Catalina drive, too. In CCC6, you're not going to get a bootable clone using the Standard Clone option only. If it's Catalina or older, CCC5 and its standard clone feature should do the trick the old way.

Robert
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: kj
Date: January 05, 2023 10:06AM
It is running Monterey, and I used the Legacy bootable copy assistant, but it hangs while booting. I tried booting into safe mode, and that didn't work either, so idk. I had to order a pentalobe, so it will be a few days before I can do anything anyway.
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: January 05, 2023 11:18AM
kj,

Sounds like something got hosed in the process of making the clone. Kinda why I didn't want to use that method even though it's an option.

Maybe on the next go-around, format the external drive as APFS with a GUID partition. Install Monterey on it and then use Migration Assistant to bring everything from your boot drive to the external.

Or, use the three drive method I detailed in my original post. Make a standard backup of your machine on one external. Wipe and format a second external as an APFS-GUID volume. Install the OS on it. Then use Migration Assistant to carry everything from the backup to the second external.

Robert
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Re: A method for “cloning” a boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner 6 for those running MacOS Big Sur or newer (long post)
Posted by: kj
Date: January 08, 2023 12:57AM
Quote
Robert M
kj,

Sounds like something got hosed in the process of making the clone. Kinda why I didn't want to use that method even though it's an option.

Maybe on the next go-around, format the external drive as APFS with a GUID partition. Install Monterey on it and then use Migration Assistant to bring everything from your boot drive to the external.

Or, use the three drive method I detailed in my original post. Make a standard backup of your machine on one external. Wipe and format a second external as an APFS-GUID volume. Install the OS on it. Then use Migration Assistant to carry everything from the backup to the second external.

Robert

I bought a new internal from OWC, so hopefully one of these methods will at least give me a bootable external, and from that I can get the internal going. Since I have the backups that are not bootable, I was wondering if there is a way to format and install the OS on the stalled new drive without actually booting? It looks like there is an option to install os over the internet, but I've never used that.

Anyway, I have the pentalobe, so I'm ready to go after I use my laptop "as is" for a gig tomorrow night (can't risk messing it up before that).

Thanks for the options, I'll try those before anything else.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/08/2023 01:00AM by kj.
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