Backup Strategy...Integrating CCC and TimeMachine...

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by JoelBC, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. JoelBC, Jan 3, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013

    JoelBC macrumors 6502a

    Jun 16, 2012
    I am 20+ year Windows user who has recently made the jump from Windows to OS X.

    I am at the final stages of the "changeover process" and am trying to finalize my backup strategy.

    In my Windows system I i) create a system image every night on my NAS drive and ii) create a copy of my "home folder" every night on a USB drive. Both of these backups are automated.

    In trying to figure the best approach in OS X I recognize that the available backup tools are different:

    1. Carbon Copy Cloner which seems to be a backup tool of choice has the capability of i) backing up specific folders and files and ii) backing up a bootable clone [very cool]. The latter needs a direct attached backup drive which means either a Thunderbolt drive or a USB drive but not a NAS drive.​

    2. Time Machine which seems to take slices / snapshots of the hard drive on a regular basis.​

    What I need help with is determining the best approach / strategy for integrating Carbon Copy Cloner and Time Machine . While I am sure that there is a better strategy the best approach that I have been able to come up is the following:

    1. Invest in a 1 TB or 2 TB Thunderbolt or USB 3 drive which I will partition into 3 pieces -- 1 for Carbon Copy bootable clone backups, 1 for Carbon Copy specific folders and file backups and 1 for Time Machine backups. As an aside, any suggestions as to drives.​

    2. Create a Carbon Copy bootable clone backup every night at say 11:00 PM. ​

    3. Create a Carbon Copy backup of specific folders and files every night at say 1:00 AM. ​

    4. Create a TimeMachine backups at its self-determined automated / regular intervals. ​

    This strategy will enable me at any point in time to i) rebuild my system fairly quickly and simply by installing the most recent Carbon Copy bootable dive and then the most recent TimeMachine backup of my Home Folder and ii) access directly my Home Folder via my Carbon Copy backup of the specific folders and files I selected.

    With the above background, please assist me in finalizing and fine tuning my backup strategy.

    With much thanks,


    PS. I have offsite storage covered as I i) regularly rotate my USB drives and ii) regularly copy the material from my NAS to USB drives and store them offsite.
  2. glenthompson macrumors demi-god


    Apr 27, 2011
    A partitioned drive is only one backup. If the drive fails, gets lost or stolen, or other failure then you have no backup.

    Better solution:

    NAS for time machine and/or CCC copies. A mirrored or raid unit is good.
    Separate drives for offsite clones and TM backups.

    I copy my critical files to my Mac mini server (automated) and have TM backups to an external drive on the server. The server drives are mirrored and copied daily to another Mac mini. I also make bootable CCCclones of our machines and keep them in a fireproof safe. A small subset of files are kept on Dropbox. I also run TM against a USB drive at least once a month. This is met separate from the other drives.
  3. JoelBC thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 16, 2012
    Greatly appreciate the response but can we please walk before we run in that i) first, can we please discuss what files should be backed up with what software (i.e. CCC versus TimeMachine) and ii) second, can we please discuss where (i.e. Thunderbolt/USB, NAS, etc.).

    Though the point is taken / valid regarding redundancy please note:

    1. Current NAS is configured as RAID 5.

    2. Walk then run principle applies here as well in that let's get a basic strategy up and running and then let's augment it with multiple storage devices, etc.

    With much thanks,

  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think your solution appears overkill in needing to run CCC multiple times since you have TM running. Also its not a good idea to maintain two backup methodologies on the same drive.

    I use the following methodology.
    Time Machine to my NAS, occurs hourly
    Once a week (or there abouts) I run a CCC backup to an external drive (not my NAS) and I take that off site.

    It doesn't matter if you're running a RAID 5 or not, having two different backups on the same physical drive is not as safe as the two separate drives. If you're going to invest in an expensive 3 TB thunderbolt RAID 5 external drive, I'd go with two less expensive products or break the RAID up so you're on two external drives.

    You still run the risk of an issue with the NAS failing and being unable to access your backups. What happens if you had a power surge that cooked your computer and NAS - having two backups on the NAS won't help you.
  5. JoelBC thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 16, 2012
    I thought that I would build in some redundancy as I have heard that TimeMachine is not necessarily 100% reliable..

    Agreed which is why for my Windows system I use both a NAS and a USB drive....the issue I am struggling with is that my current NAS is NOT exactly MAC friendly..

    This methodology makes some sense to me but could you please expand on how you would rebuild your machine as it is possible that your CCC bootable backup is nearly 1 week old.

    Agreed, see above.

    I am not going to invest in such a device as the cost is prohibitive...I am prepared to invest in:

    1. A new NAS drive that is MAC friendly [any suggestions]; or

    2. One or more new Thunderbolt or USB drive that is between 1 TB to 2 TB is size [ant suggestions]; or

    3. A combination of 1 and 2.

    Agreed, I do have a whole home surge protector at my electrical so hopefully this wont happen but your point is well taken....this is also the raeson why perhaps it makes to:

    1. CCC backups on an external drive [i.e. Thunderbolt or USB] of weekly system clones and daily Hooem Folder; and

    2. TimeMachien backups on a NAS.



    Appreciate the input greatly...

  6. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I have two options
    1. Do a full system restore from Time Machine. This works well and I've done this in the past though its quite slow.

    2. Do a restore from my CCC backup and then pull back my data from Time Machine. This is the most expedient but requires that I restore my document folder (and any other folder from TM).


    If you're looking at new a new NAS then check out the offerings from Synology (the most popular here) or QNAP (I have this and its a good unit though I think at this point Synology may be superior)
  7. JoelBC thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 16, 2012
    I assumed that would be the approach that you would use but wanted to make sure...on this point, why is it a problem under method 2 to restore your My Document folder from TimeMachine?

    Thank-you as I have read a lot of good things on this forum about synology...two follow ups, can the drives be formated to be HFS+ (or, as in most NAS' are they AFP, CIFS, etc.) and which model would you suggest.




    What I need help with is determining the best approach / strategy for integrating Carbon Copy Cloner and Time Machine . While I am sure that there is a better strategy the best approach that I now have is the following:

    1. Invest in a 1 TB [or possibly 2 TB] Thunderbolt or USB 3 drive which I will partition into 2 parts -- 1 for Carbon Copy backups of my Home Folder and 1 for Time Machine backups. ​

    2. Create on a NAS [NOTE: I will first try using my existing NAS through a sparse bundle] a Carbon Copy bootable clone backup every night at say 11:00 PM...and yes, I do realize that for the backup files to be bootable they will need to be trasferred to a direct attachable drive​

    3. Create on my Thnderbolt/USB drive a Carbon Copy backup of my HOme Folder every night at say 1:00 AM. ​

    4. Create on my Thnderbolt/USB drive a TimeMachine backups at its self-determined automated / regular intervals. ​

    I would apprecaite comments / thoughts on this approach again recognizing that I want to wlak before I run and that I can / will add more drives as necessary.

    With much thanks,

  8. robgendreau macrumors 68030

    Jul 13, 2008
    You might get better results if you told us WHAT you're backing up.

    A few things to consider:

    Offsite backup. Like the cloud, or office-to-home. You get burglarized and your backup and computer gets lifted and you're hosed. At least for critical data.

    Do you need incremental backups? versioning? Or are you archiving originals?

    Do you have a backup computer? One plus of a clone is that it creates a sort of second computer, in that if your internal drive fails you can boot from the clone and it operates just as it did with the internal. So you get up and running quickly. But it's even quicker and more reliable to have a second computer rather than just a clone. But maybe your PC is playing that role, I dunno.
  9. JoelBC thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 16, 2012
    Fair enough...I am backing up my MBA which contains i) applications that I have added and configured in addition to those included with OS X ii) data all of which is contained in USER/DOCUMENTS unless an application/developer places data elsewhere [i.e. 1Password places their keychain in USER/LIBRARY] and iii) configuration/settings for OS X [this is clearly the least important].

    I have no need to back up my media as this is stored on my existing NAS drive and backed up through off-site storage [i.e. it is essentially music which is backed up on a USD drive whenever it is changed with the drive being stored offsite].

    I am concerned about security and therefore place very information in the far as offsite storage is concerned I tend to keep my USB drives in my briefcase which I generally have with me wherever I am.

    This is part of the decision making process / strategy that is to be addressed in this present I a taking a two pronged and somewhat redundant approach:

    1. Full backups every night through both CCC and Time Machine.

    2. Critical data backups -- the Home Folder -- also every night through CCC.

    This approach is being followed to simply the rebuild process noting that I am very good about keeping historical / incremental files that I may need down the road so historical / versioning files are less of a concern to me.

    I do not have a second computer but agree with your comments regarding the clone which is why I have been drawn to CCC as it -- unlike time machine -- provides for this capability.

    The Windows PC that I have is not a duplicate but rather for work in that I have split my personal and business computing platform.



  10. robgendreau macrumors 68030

    Jul 13, 2008
    The data backup (i.e. the stuff you create) is the most important. And I include things like passwords/keychains, bookmarks, contacts and other critical data. Some of that stuff is a major headache to replicate.

    I don't bother to clone much of the rest of the system, however. Instead I create a clone that I KNOW works if I were to boot from it. Usually the state of the machine just before a system upgrade. That way I am assured of having a safe system to run. Yes, it sometimes gets a bit old, but that's the point: it can be hard to pinpoint the change (new software, settings, etc) that caused problem, and I don't want to clone the problematic software before I discover the problem.
  11. astroboyns macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2013
    Audit My Backup Plan

    I have been reading through many threads, many websites, and software help sites, but I can't seem to get the exact answer I need regarding a backup strategy. Please, please forgive me if the answers to all of my concerns are I mentioned, I couldn't find a complete answer for my needs, or at least one I could understand!

    I have a new iMac, and also purchased an external 3 TB LaCie drive for backup purposes. I at first thought that using Time Machine would be good enough, but I realized after some research that it's not a bootable backup, and since this new iMac was not shipped with any software CD, I am not sure how I would boot the system again if I needed to replace my drive completely due to failure, or if I were to reformat. I am new to Mac, and can easily navigate this process on a Windows PC, but not so much now on the iMac.

    I can see the advantage of a bootable disc for a fast fix to a hard drive failure, and also think, through what I have read, it makes sense to have 2 versions of a backup in case one is corrupt or fails. For this reason, I am going to use Time Machine, and either CCC or Superduper!

    Right now my plan is (and this might be a bad one) to partition 3TB External in half - 1.5 for CCC or Superduper!, and 1.5 for Time Machine (or 1TB for CCC/Superduper!, and 2TB for Time Machine). I am going to save a clone of the drive as it is currently and isolate it if possible (I just want the option to restore the system as it was fresh out of the box). I am also going to use Time Machine to save as many different version of my files as it can fit on the drive partition. If (or WHEN) my internal drive fails, I will boot from clone (most recent version), and copy clone to new internal drive after it is installed. I can then restore to any previous point on the cloned drive using Time Machine (assuming that data is ok) or via prior versions of CCC clone. The external drive will be backed up in the cloud on a weekly basis in the event my main computer and external drive are stolen or damaged.

    Questions on this:

    1. I have read that I will have to partition the drive to save both a CCC Clone, and Time Machine data. Should I buy ANOTHER external drive, or is it ok to just partition my 3 TB drive? Is 1.5 TB for Time Machine, then 1.5 TB for CCC ok? Main drive is 1TB, and hardly any space used. Is it advisable to use and partition this one backup drive for both Time Machine and CCC, then backup this entire external drive up once a week or so to a cloud service?

    2. If I at some point wanted to restore my iMac to the way it is now (fresh out of the box with latest updates, and a bit of software on it), can I have CCC save this version of the hard drive (as previously mentioned), as well as future versions? I assume if I were to save multiple versions of a clone (if that is possible) it would start deleting oldest version once it runs out of space? (like Time Machine does)? Is there any way to save the first ever clone of my system for good (i.e. if CCC, for example, needs to delete a version to save space, delete the 2nd clone and so on, but leave the first?), and then set CCC to save a latest version of the clone every week or so? Would it make sense or be easier to just use disc utility to make a clone of the drive as it is now, save it on the external drive under another partition, and then make 2 more partitions for CCC, and Time Machine and let them run as normal?

    3. Could I use this "original" (my current) disc image to boot in the event of a failure then use my time machine data to quickly restore to most current version of the system? I suppose this wouldn't work very well in the even my internal hard drive is dead? I assume, in the event I clone the entire drive and the main/internal hard drive fails, and I want to be able to boot from the CCC clone, that I really have no use for the Time Machine data? Assuming I can somehow revert back to previous version of files and system with saved Time Machine data IF I need to, but I could also used archived versions of the CCC data as well if needed?

    Sorry if I repeated myself mind is spinning a bit from reading so much on this topic tonight. I think it's time to call it quits from all of this backup's obviously not helping. :) Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. I just want to make sure I am doing this in a way that is feasible, as easy as possible, and that does not require a really large investment in backup storage.

    Thanks in advance for assistance with this!
  12. Weaselboy macrumors Core


    Jan 23, 2005
    Let me take a shot at this for you.

    First thing... Time Machine (TM) does make a bootable backup and if say your hard drive dies and you put a new one in, you can option key boot to the TM backup and use that to format the new drive and fully restore everything to the replacement drive.

    The only thing CCC adds to the mix is while it can also be booted to, you can actually boot to the CCC disk and use the computer normally (albeit slowly). If that is an important feature for you, then look at CCC. If that is not important, I see no reason to fuss with CCC. If you need to restore after a drive failure, you need either TM or CCC, you don't restore from both.

    If you do use CCC and TM, then yes, each needs its own partition on the backup drive. No need for a second drive unless your strategy is off site storage of a second drive.

    If you want online backup like CrashPlan or whatever, you would typically have that backup your main drive not the backup drive.
  13. astroboyns macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2013
    Thank you for the response - I greatly appreciate it.

    Would you suggest making a backup using CCC AND Time Machine in case one of the backups is corrupted somehow? What would be the advantage of backing up your whole system as opposed to just backing up your backups using an on-line service such as crash plan? I would prefer to have a backup of my backups as opposed to my main drive.....only because the backup drive may fail?

    While it would be nice to have a CCC backup to load my system right away, it is not absolutely necessary. It would be nice to have the ability to continue to use the computer until a replacement drive could be ordered and installed. Given the difficulty in repairing the late 2012 iMac, I would assume a visit to the Apple Store would be in order, so I wouldn't have my system for a while anyway (no other Mac other than this one).
  14. bdj33ranch macrumors regular

    Apr 19, 2005
    I have a MBP and travel regularly between a rural location and a city. This is the backup strategy that I am currently using.

    Obviously I have the MBP. I also keep with it a USB3 bus powered portable. That portable is partitioned. One partition is for Time Machine. The other partition is for files that I don't want taking up space on the MBP (like original photo files).

    At each of the two locations I have a USB3 external drive which stays at that location. They are also partitioned. One partition is for a bootable CCC clone. The other partition is for a copy of those other NON-Time Machine files that also reside on my portable "Time Machine" drive.

    I also took an old USB2 external drive and periodically copy just my MBP Documents, Music and Pictures folders to it. It stays in the same location but in a separate building from my other fixed location drive.
  15. Weaselboy macrumors Core


    Jan 23, 2005
    I don't see the advantage to backing up your backup with Crashplan like you mentioned. If somehow your backup disk is corrupted, you are now backing that corrupted data to Crahsplan and have no way of knowing that is occurring. If you are backing up the main drive directly to Crashplan, you will be using that drive daily and know there is something wrong so you can fix it. If you backup drive fails, you still have all your data on Crashplan.

    Like I mentioned, the only thing CCC brings to the table is the ability to actually run the system form the CCC backup drive. In your case, the iMac is headed to a repair shop if the drive dies anyway, so I see little need for this. I suppose if the drive died on Friday, and you could not get it to a shop until Monday... having CCC would allow you to use the machine during that period. If that is something you think might be important for you to do, you will want to look at running a CCC backup in addition to Time Machine.
  16. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Good advice.

    Never back-up a back-up. You are MUCH better off with two independent backups.

  17. Fishrrman, Apr 27, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013

    Fishrrman macrumors 604

    Feb 20, 2009
    "First thing... Time Machine (TM) does make a bootable backup and if say your hard drive dies and you put a new one in, you can option key boot to the TM backup and use that to format the new drive and fully restore everything to the replacement drive."

    I will disagree on this one.

    You are trying to redefine what a "bootable backup" is.
    It is not what you seem to think it is, as described above.

    A bona-fide bootable backup is a volume that you can connect to your Mac, boot up, and have all files instantly available in finder format, right in front of you, just as they were at the time of the last backup. No "restoration" involved. Just boot 'n' go. Ready to use.

    That means the user doesn't have to "fully restore" ANYTHING -- because everything is right in front of him/her, ready to use.

    This can't be done with a Time Machine backup. It couldn't be done when T.M was first introduced, and it can't be done now.
  18. Weaselboy macrumors Core


    Jan 23, 2005
    I very clearly explained the difference and pros/cons of Time Machine vs. CCC and what I meant by "bootable" in both my posts answering astroboyns question (excerpted below).

    So, other than just being pedantic and argumentative, I don't see the point of your post.
  19. Fishrrman, Apr 28, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013

    Fishrrman macrumors 604

    Feb 20, 2009
    "other than just being pedantic and argumentative, I don't see the point of your post."

    The point is that having a fully bootable backup clone -- or even just another bootable volume -- can save a user a LOT of trouble and time in many situations.

    The most common of these is a "can't boot". The user presses the power-on button, and for some reason or other (unknown at the time), the Mac can't boot and get to the desktop.

    I've been there myself, at least a few times. I've had one or two instances of where I had to force a power-down to get out of a beachball situation that nothing else would resolve. Then try to power up again and -- can't boot.

    I "switch-booted" to my always-online secondary boot volume, and was up and running again.

    The user can run Disk Utility, but that can't always fix the problem. Sometimes the problem may be a file (such as Finder preferences) which gets corrupted. DU may not see or repair this, but a corrupted pref file like that will keep the finder from loading. Do this several times, and the unsavvy user may think "my drive has gone bad" or "the OS is no good" -- and start trying things that won't "correct" the problem, may make it worse, or at the very least go through a complete re-installation process that is unneeded.

    With a second fully-bootable volume at hand, the user could simply move the finder prefs file to the trash, reboot, and be back running in a couple of minutes. This EXACT scenario has happened to me, as well.

    I recall having a "can't boot" at least once or twice, where simply booting from my backup, and then RE-booting from my internal, corrected the issue. Running again.

    If I _didn't_ have a second boot volume at-hand, my options would have been far more involved. Yes, one can boot to the recovery partition, but once running from it, one's options are EXTREMELY limited as to what can be done. It might be possible to do some involved "fixes" through the Terminal, but I'll admit I'm not UNIX-savvy enough to be sure of myself manipulating things that way. Risky business.

    If I was asked to help out in a "can't boot" situation with a computer that didn't already have a bootable backup, my first inclination would be to CREATE one if possible using the internet recovery. That is, create an external boot volume, then boot from it, to see if I could get the Mac running AND see if the internal drive was "mountable" (even if it's not BOOTable). That's a big step forward in determining what has to be done next. (of course I will always bring along a bootable volume of my own, even a "selection of OS's"...)

    The real crux of the matter is that having a truly bootable backup nearby can make problem-solving much easier in a moment-of-need -- particularly when you're trying to help someone else get running again.
  20. Weaselboy macrumors Core


    Jan 23, 2005
    You cannot be serious. Do you just enjoy typing. :confused:

    I explained twice in this thread how CCC allows one to actually run the machine off your backup and why that might be needed. I don't know who you are trying to convince.
  21. astroboyns macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2013
    Thanks to you both for the information. Again, I appreciate it. I understand now the differences between a CCC backup, and a Time Machine backup. I actually took a drive out of my old PC machine, got a cheap casing, and created another external drive. I am going to keep my Time Machine backup on one, and the other newly created external drive as a CCC backup (doing this instead of partitioning the one external drive to use with both Time Machine and CCC). In addition, I am going to use SpiderOak, or Arq for an on-line backup of my main drive (not a backup of my backups). It might be overkill, but I figure if the one of the backups/the backup drives should fail, I'll have the other to fall back on. It might be handy to have the CCC backup -- most times I would not need to be able to instantly use the system again, but if I am in the middle of working on something for my job or a course I am taking, it might come in handy. In the event I were to lose everything via fire or theft for example, I will have my last line of defence as the on-line backup. I don't want to pay a monthly fee, but keeping a backup offsite is far too much work for me, and I'll never remember to do it. I don't think it is likely that I will ever need the on-line backup, but it is handy for downloading files remotely if travelling, for example. If anyone has any other suggestions for on-line backup services, feel free to make a suggestion. I have done research on many, but security is a real concern for me, and for that reason, SpiderOak and Arq (via Amazon) are what i would prefer as they for the most part put my mind at ease regarding security of the data.

    Thanks again for the assistance. Hopefully you will agree that my backup plan is adequate.
  22. Weaselboy macrumors Core


    Jan 23, 2005
    That sounds like a good plan. I'm using CrashPlan for online backup, but certainly nothing wrong with the other options you mentioned.
  23. kapalua12 macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2010
    United States
    A newbie to the iMac Question if I may? How do I navigate to the files I should backup to Crash Plan since my internal drive does not show up as a drive in Finder? I'm assuming data, user files, anything else I would lose in case of a drive failure other than OSX and apps?
  24. Weaselboy macrumors Core


    Jan 23, 2005
    By default CrashPlan will backup everything in your personal user folder with the exception of some cache files you don't need. So all your data and settings get backed up without you configuring anything just by installing and running CrashPlan.

    From the main CrashPlan app window there is a pane you can click on that shows what folders are being backed up. You can go there and uncheck any folders you want to leave out of the backup.

    You should be able to see your internal drive in the Finder though. What do you see when you open Finder?
  25. kapalua12 macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2010
    United States
    I see 3 categories:

    1. Favorites , which includes dropbox, all my files, Applications, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Movies, Music, Pictures

    2. Shared, which lists my Time Capsule along with an external usb external drive connected to time capsule


    3. Devices which includes "Remote Disk" (whatever that is), WD Smart, My Passport, and LaCie external drive

    There's no sign of my internal SSD


    OK, I was able, via Finder to put Macintosh Drive into the Category Devices, so I see it now.

    What is remote disc? Is that from when I used my old mac to share it's DVD drive to install Microsoft office from the DVD to my new Mac?

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