Backing up individual folders and applications

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by jrammy91, May 16, 2015.

  1. jrammy91 macrumors newbie

    May 16, 2015
    I want to restore my MacBook Pro 13" (late 2011) to factory settings as it's been running a little slow recently, to clear out all the rubbish, and so I can get what I consider to be the perfect backup clone. I'm also thinking about trying Yosemite but may revert back to Lion if it's too slow on 4GB RAM / upgrade my RAM.

    I have a Time Machine backup of the entire system in case things go wrong, but what I really need is individual files/folders/apps and I have Carbon Copy Cloner downloaded ready to do this. Is it quite a simple process of backing up individual apps or are there different folders for each app in the system Library, for example, that need to be copied over?

    I also have a few apps (e.g. Games, Office for Mac 2011, etc) that needed licences to install. Obviously I don't want to be buying them all again so what is the process of getting all of these apps on the new system with the same licence key? In some cases I also no longer have the licence keys. Is there a process for de-authentication like iTunes?

    Any advice or help greatly appreciated!
  2. Toby Goodbar macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2006
    It's been a while since i used CCC but its a pretty simple process even for system files. I believe there were option that would automatically save the system related files so its not like you have to go through and click off all the system, library and app support trees or anything.

    I would say go ahead and use CCC and if you run into any trouble or get confused just post back here. Preferably with screenshots and I can help you with anything more specific
  3. jrammy91 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 16, 2015

    Thanks for clarifying! Do you know whether it will save all the licences for my apps and whether they will work after I erase the hard drive?
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    You're "thinking too much" about this.
    CCC is one of the easiest Mac apps to use in existence.

    Just do it.

    Do you have a drive of sufficient capacity (that is, equal in size to the space consumed on your internal drive), that can receive the CCC clone?

    If so, just try running CCC and cloning the internal drive to the backup.

    When you're finished, do a test boot by rebooting and holding down the option key until the Startup Manager appears. Then select the backup drive and hit return.
    The Mac should boot from the backup.
    IMPORTANT TO KNOW: the backup will look EXACTLY LIKE the internal hard drive looks.
    The only way to know you're booted from the external drive is to choose "about this Mac" from the Apple menu and verify the boot drive.
  5. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    No this is not simple to do at all. Some applications have support folders in different locations that you will need to identify and move over. There are also preference (plist) files for every app that will need to be moved over.

    MS Office you mentioned is one app that has support folders that get setup by the installer. If you just drag the Office apps over they will not work. If you do not have the serial numbers to reregister, you are taking a big chance here. Often a copy back and forth like that will make apps think they are on new hardware and you will be prompted to reregister.
  6. Toby Goodbar, May 17, 2015
    Last edited: May 17, 2015

    Toby Goodbar macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2006
    Yes it is. I've done it many times and I'm willing to bet so has Fishrrman. The plist files are in the system tree under the library folders. The apps have no way to "think" or "know" they and the rest of the system have been cloned onto a new hard drive :rolleyes: Stop scaring the guy.

    OP: everything Fishrrman is correct and I'll still help you out if you get confused! If you're worried about license numbers serials etc, you could go to each app in question and usually on the About or sometime Prefs menus you can see them and just copy them down, not that you need to, but couldn't hurt.

    You may also want to consider doing an Archive Install. INfo here:
  7. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I'm sorry but you are mistaken, and there is no reason to rudely roll your eyes.

    It is simply not as simple as you make it out to do a full clean install and manually move apps and the associated support folders and plist files back to a new system. Particularly for a novice user who may not know their way around the file system.

    Some apps that are just drag and drop installs from a DMG file, like VLC for example, can just be dragged over from a cloned drive to the clean install and they will work fine even without moving over the plist file (although you would lose any custom settings). But as I said, others like MS Office and the Adobe apps like PhotoShop have support files in other folders that you need to hunt down and move over.

    MS Office 2011 and Adobe apps most certainly will not work on a new hard drive without reactivation. The apps will detect the hardware device UUID is different and prompt for reactivation. There are threads here and here as just a couple examples of this. There are many many more threads on this exact issue as it is a well know problem. If you search on OS X MS Office 2011 activation you will find this is a very well documented issue.

    Again, you are mistaken. OP specifically mentioned he has MS Office and does not have the activation information. The MS Office 2011 activation code is not listed in any menu and needs to manually be reentered from your purchase email if it was a downloaded copy or the CD if it was a disc based copy.

    I'm honestly not sure what Fishrrman was trying to explain, because all his post explains is how to clone the drive to an external and boot from that to make sure the clone worked. It says nothing at all about manually moving apps and settings back over to the clean install.

    I'm not trying to scare anybody. I am simply making the OP aware that this is not a simple task and there are potential activation issues related to the specific MS Office 2011 concern he mentioned.
  8. jrammy91 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 16, 2015
    Thanks Toby - I might be taking you up on that offer!

    Thanks for your help Weaselboy. This is what I was worried about - from a short amount of prior research it sounds like a nightmare trying to copy Office for Mac over - especially without that licence code. (Foolishly I opted for a disc copy with physical licence code thinking that would be safer! What a moment of madness - I guess I do have it somewhere - but finding it will be a mission! It sounds like it can be done but I would need the licence code and need to phone Microsoft to deauthenticate the current version.

    From these comments and a reply I had on another thread I think I'm going to try and clean the system up a bit and see if performance improves rather than go for the individual backup method. So I will organise my files and apps (my desktop is a mess which apparently affects performance) and maybe reinstall the apps I use frequently, e.g. Safari - then make the backup clone of the entire (cleaner) system and reinstall using that before upgrading to Yosemite. (I assume I wouldn't run into trouble with the Office for Mac licence in this situation?)

    Just so you have an idea what I use my system for here is a list of Apps I have installed since getting the machine in 2011: Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, Steam, Firefox, Epson Printer Software, Chrome, HIARCS Chess Explorer (nerddd), Adobe Reader, Empire Total War, Pokerstars, Microsoft Silverlight, VLC, Spotify, and Stronghold Crusader HD which had some complicated install as it's not meant to be playable on Mac). So I don't do anything very taxing on the system - the only ones I use daily are Office and Safari - but I guess I do watch a lot of videos when browsing! My entire system takes up about 120GB and is on the 500GB hard drive that came with the Mac.

    I have repaired permissions using disc utility and on my to do/get list are
    Onyx and ClamXav. Are there any other suggestions for software / processes I could use to improve performance?

    Thanks for all your help guys - I'll probably be doing this over the next few days / weekend so will keep you updated.

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