[Guide] How to perform Mac Drive Cloning

By on Saturday, July 19, 2014

We have written many articles related to Mac. In this article we'l show you how to perform mac drive cloning.

Hard drive cloning is a well-known method to back up all data at once, and the backup is termed the bootable backup of the Mac. Well, the process actually is quite hard to perform and there is a huge risk of data loss while copying the system files and installed applications from the source drive to the destination drive. In contrast, the process is quite faster, efficient, and productive as compared to backing up the crucial files manually on the individual basis.

How to perform Mac Drive Cloning

Well, the process of Mac drive cloning on to a secondary drive requires certain criteria to be satisfied with no failure. Accordingly, the user must have a Mac drive-cloning tool and a secondary drive with the size equal to or greater than that of the primary drive (i.e. Mac drive). Remember, in case the secondary drive is brand new (or it has not been used with Mac yet), it has to be formatted with the Mac file system at the very first step of the process. For this, you can also use Mac inbuilt Disk Utility, or a Mac partition manager to simplify Mac drive cloning process. To format the secondary drive with the Mac file system using ‘Disk Utility’, you need to track the following steps:

Step 1: Hook up the secondary drive to the Mac with a USB data cable when it is running, in case it is an external drive. Otherwise, install this drive on the Mac with a SATA to USB cable, and then turn on the Mac.

Step 2: The sooner the Mac detects this drive, Disk Insertion message pops up, saying, “The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer.” Click the Initialize button to start formatting it.

Step 3: Clicking the Initialize button launches Disk Utility, afterwards select the secondary drive at the left and go to the Erase tab at the right.

Step 4: In the Volume Format drop-down menu, select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and specify a name for this drive in the Name field.

Step 5: Click the Erase button to start formatting this drive.

After formatting the secondary drive as Mac OS Extended (Journaled), user can now proceed to clone Mac drive on it. In this post, the drive we are going to clone (i.e. the primary drive) has only one partition (i.e. the boot volume). If your Mac drive has multiple partitions, then partition the secondary drive into its equal number of partitions. In this regard, track the following steps:

Important: You can see the formatted secondary drive mounted on desktop, which you have to partition into required number of partitions.

Step 1: Highlight the secondary drive in the left pane of Disk Utility and then click the Partition tab at the right.

Step 2: Under the graphical view of the hard drive, click the Options button and choose a Partition Map Scheme for this drive, and then click OK.

Important: Choose GUID Partition Table on your Intel-based Mac, or Apple Partition Map on PowerPC-based Mac.

Step 3: Now, click the Volume Scheme drop-down menu and select the number of partitions to create.
(For Instance, choose ‘3 Partitions’ to split the hard drive into three partitions of equal size. You can resize them later.)

Step 4: After that, select one partition and update its properties under Volume Information area:
a. In the Name field, type a name for the selected volume.
b. In the Format menu, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled).
c. In the Size field, specify the size (in GBs) of the volume if you want to resize it.

Step 5: Now, repeat the step IV for other newly created volumes.

(Important: In case you want to install Windows on any of these volumes, choose MS-DOS (FAT) as the format of the particular volume.)

Step 6: Finally, click the Apply button to save them.

Based upon the number of partitions you choose to create on the secondary drive, Disk Utility takes a while to end up partitioning it successfully. After that, you can begin with Mac drive cloning process. Since Mac drive cloning process copies the boot volume as well, you have to boot the Mac from a secondary bootable media. In this regard, boot you Mac Lion, Mountain Lion, or Mavericks from Recovery HD. For earlier versions of Mac OS X, users require a bootable disc.

Booting Mac from Recovery HD

Restart the Mac and hold down the ‘Command + R’ keys until the Apple logo appears. Once it reaches the desktop, you should see OS X menu and a Mac OS X Utilities window. In this window, launch Disk Utility.

Booting Mac from Bootable Disc

Insert Mac bootable disc and restart it, and then hold down the C key to boot from it. In the Mac OS X Utilities window, launch Disk Utility.

As mentioned earlier, we consider the Mac drive has only one partition (i.e. the boot partition), which means that the process describes the steps to copy Mac applications and the system files. If you want to copy the boot volume only, then you can skip the steps to partition the secondary drive, and directly proceed with the following steps:

Step 1: In the left pane of Disk Utility, highlight the Mac drive and go to the Restore tab at the right.

Step 2: Now, drag the Mac drive to the right and drop it in the Source field if it is not already shown there.

Step 3: Likewise, drag the secondary drive from the left pane to the right and drop it in the Destination field.

Step 4: Make sure the selected drives are correct and click the Restore button.

The time elapsed in copying Mac boot volume varies with the number of applications installed on it. Once the process ends up, exit Disk Utility (eject the boot disc if booted from it), and start the Mac normally. To boot from the clone drive, hold down the Option key when Mac is booting and choose clone drive.

Author Bio
Donald Kepler has a passion to write tips & tricks for backing up Mac by cloning Mac HDD, imaging Mac drive etc.

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