Cloning HDDs

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by edblor, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. edblor macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2008
    Hi all.

    I posted a week or so back that I was going to upgrade my HDD to a faster drive. I posted a few days ago about what might best suit my needs; the 7k200 Hitachi, or a Sandisk SSD (32GB).

    I decided on the 7k200 after reading the great Anandtech article on SSDs.

    So, I connect my 7k200 via USB to my MAC, and using SuperDuper begin cloning over the drive.

    The settings are right, so I say go! 4 hours later it is stuck at less than half of the files transferred, and the progress bar not having moved in hours!

    So I stop, reboot, and try again. After reading some online reports that it can take upwards of 7 hours, I go to bed. In the morning, it has done even less this time. Arrgghh:mad:

    I stop, again, and try CCC. Not much better IMO. It too is slow to progress, so I use the 'Net to see if I have done something wrong, or missed a setting....

    To make a long post a tad longer, I decide to use Disk Utility to clone over. I did not know you could, and after checking online, lots of peeps are unaware of this feature.

    Less than an hour later, the drive is cloned:eek:

    I pop open my MAC, swap drives, close it up, reboot, and the world is as it should be....bliss:D

    So in short, use Disk Utility, and save yourself 17 hours or so!

    Thanks though to the advice from this forum.

    Cheers all
  2. Ploki macrumors 68020

    Jan 21, 2008
    using the same method right now. waiting for it to be complete.
    im just sad i dont have an eSata interface for my Mac Pro..
  3. Ploki macrumors 68020

    Jan 21, 2008
    Is it SUPPOSE to get THAT hot?
    its untouchably hot and the fans are running WILD.
    i thought target disk mode is really that, TARGET DISK. but the whole chipset seems like its gonna burn.
    its a bit better now that ive opened the LID, but still, HOT.
  4. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    Lid closed + intense activity and HD working = HOT. But I guess you've already figured that out now. Airflow... a very important factor. ;)
  5. michael.lauden macrumors 68020


    Dec 25, 2008
    weird i have cloned many drives (mine with 80GB used, and the girlfriends with 120GB used) with Carbon Copy Cloner. none took more than 3 hours.... :confused:
  6. Ploki macrumors 68020

    Jan 21, 2008
    why is there activity..i thought only FW chipset and HD are working not the whole logic board.
    its open now, i hope i didnt burn anything. it was closed for about 20minutes fans on 6k rpm..
    now its back on 2k and more normal temps.
    this thing is NOT suppose to be used in clamshell regularly. :S

    im cloning with disk utility. 1h30m to finish estimated, has been working for about an hour now i think.
    320gb (4gigs empty :D) to 320gb.
    FW800 to USB2.0... i wish i had bought that eSata extension... :S
    i have Icy Box IB290

    edit: i accidentally pulled out FW800 cable :D.. with 10minutes remaining. its too late now to restart and i dont want to leave it in TDM for all night long. screw it.
  7. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Well good to know you didn't get the Samsung SSD; 32GB is a bit pitiful.
  8. edblor thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2008
    This is what I hate about both PCs and MACs. No 2 people will have the same experience:confused:

    My MBP is probably no different from yours, yet CCC for me just would not budge. WTF?

    Anyway, glad that some peeps can use it, but for me, Disk Utility worked as advertised!

  9. Ploki macrumors 68020

    Jan 21, 2008
    its taking forever :S
    2.5 hours to clone, and 2hours to verify.
    its USB2.0 fault though, it only goes 30mbytes/sec... i wish i had bought that damn eSata card
  10. Ploki macrumors 68020

    Jan 21, 2008
    works great. :)
    spent 20minutes indexing it because i defragged it after ive cloned it.
    but thats about it, it works flawlessly.
    thanks to the OP for the tip
  11. tivoboy macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2005

    does anyone have a link to the specifics on how to do this? I'm about to do it with a 500gb 7.2k upgrade.

    Will it work over Firewire, or just USB?
  12. Timur macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2008
    I'm in the middle of switching to a 500gb HD myself and spend some hours learning and understanding how cloning works with Disk Utility (DU), Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) and SuperDuper! (SD).

    Here is the best and quickest way to create a fresh (non incremental) clone I came up with:

    1. Format the Destination volume via DU (I prefer Journaled).

    2. Turn off (!) Spotlight on the destination volume (and probably on the source, too) via "System Preferences -> Spotlight -> Privacy".

    3. Make Finder show hidden files either via a convinient application like "MainMenu" or via Terminal:

    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

    killall Finder

    4. Delete the "sleepimage" file from "//Macintosh HD/private/var/vm" (it's as large as your total RAM aka 2 - 8 gb!)

    5. Use CCC to "Backup All". You can remove the option to "Delete items that don't exist on the source" (CCC does not erase a volume on its own, hence you need to use DU for that).

    6. After the copy is finished: Verify it via DU! (see below why this is a good idea)

    7. Turn Spotlight back on for all volumes you want to be indexed.

    8. Turn hidden files in Finder back off (just replace TRUE with FALSE for the above listed Terminal command).

    Things you might be interested to know about:

    0. After dozends of copy operations over a broken eSATA connection using all three apps only CCC displayed error messages (plus a somewhat detailed error report file) sometimes even when all copies where unusably broken!!!
    Make sure that your connection is working correctly and possibly verify the finished copy with DU afterwards!

    1. Only DU and CCC offer Block aka Sector-by-Sector aka real 1:1 copies. This is the fastest way to copy full volumes, because it reads/writes the data sequencially and unsorted. Still I advice to use File copy mode because of point 4. (see below)!

    Since both source and destination volume need to be unmounted for the copy process this can only be done from a third drive! I advice to use DU on OS X' installation CD for doing that (also CCC didn't use Block Copy in a situation when in fact it could have used it while DU did it without any problems).

    2. DU is the only app capable of copying non-HFS volumes either via Block copy mode (see 1) or even via File copy mode when a corresponding driver is installed (like NTFS-3G etc).

    The following points are only relevant for File copy mode (not Block mode):

    3. CCC features the fastest data-throughput of the three being the only app that reaches near the maximum bandwidth of my HDs. That is achived by three RSYNC processes that can work on several files at once and make full use of multicore CPUs.

    DU uses a single ASR process that has two threads and thus also makes use of multicore CPUs, but works only on one file at a time.

    SD uses a single SDCopy process that has only one thread, so only one files at a time is being worked on and it doesn't benefit from multicore CPUs.

    4. DU and CCC sort files by alphabetical order when reading/writing files. SD sorts files by "Date Modified".

    a. Because of that read-speed depends largely on how files where organized before being copied.

    b. This makes the written clone completely defragmented (about 99.9%) and sorted and should thus give you slightly better read performance from the clone afterwards. Both algorithms keep files from the same sub-folder close together on the disc which can give a read-performance boost when an application reads lots of data files in succession (I think alphabetical has a slight benefit here because reading lots of data files usually happens in alphabetical order).

    c. Spotlight and Events (.fseventsd) can interrupt the writing process during cloning and lead to some fragmentation. That is why I advice to turn off Spotlight in order to keep it from writing to the destination volume while cloning.

    d. CCC and SD put the "mach_kernel" files first on the destination volume, right after the files-system files. DU puts the these in between "Library" and "private" (alphabetical).

    Furthermore CCC creates (empty) sub-folders first and fills them afterwards while DU and SD create sub-folders when they are written to. CCC's behavior might give it a slight performance boost when accessing the destination volume's Catalog file. Other than that I see no benefit.

    All three apps create files/folders with a current time-stamp and need to change the time-stamp of the destination to match the source's afterwards. So the destination has to be accessed at least twice for every files/folder being copied.
  13. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    Timur - lots of really helpful information. Thanks. I have been using CCC for incremental bootable backups on one drive, and for incremental folder specific backups on another drive - and have them set up to run whenever the external drives are plugged in. CCC's default setting will identify the target drive with the task associated with it, so it's nice and easy once you set it up. I'm wondering if there's a point in going back to TM, since it basically does the same thing with my data. I guess with TM it's easier to go back and restore a particular file or folder if needed, but CCC seems to be a really great piece of software. Certainly worth donating a reasonable sum to the authors.
  14. jackbrown macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2009
    We are upgrading our HDDs to WD 7200 16 Mb Scorpio Blacks, which got rave reviews. We will eventually reinstall OS but for now we just want to clone existing installs. We have seen multiple write ups on cloning boot HDD and there are of course multiple ways to get the job done. Note, we do not have an external 2.5" enclosure, we don't have firewire, and we don't necessarily want to install new software right now.
  15. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    Obviously it's easier to clone an existing drive if you can connect the new drive to your computer... either FW or usb, so get an enclosure you can toss the old drive in when you're done cloning it. You can get a fairly inexpensive one at Just make sure it's for SATA drives, not IDE drives.

    I imagine you could clone your existing drive to a disk image file, and burn that to a DVD, swap hard drives, and then boot with your original OSX restore/install disks, connect an external DVD-ROM drive to use for reading the cloned disk image, and restore it to the new internal hd. Problem is, you'd need a second, external optical drive, which would probably be more useless in the big picture than an external hd enclosure...
  16. tivoboy macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2005

    wow Timur!

    Very nice write up, and THANK YOU for taking the time to put it together. This would make a nice FAQ somewhere.
  17. Timur macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2008
    My pleasure! I had to find out that stuff for myself anyway and generally like sharing and discussing my findings with others. Still didn't find a good way to copy the Bootcamp partition though. Disk Utility does copy it, but it doesn't make it bootable. Anyone knows how to make a volume bootable manually?

    The following two images demonstrate how the different sorting algorithms of SuperDuper and CCC/DU affect the destination clone.


    Carbon Copy Cloner/Disk Utility

    With SD the "Applications" folder (light green) and comes last, because it's attributes have been changed just lately. That means that SD puts the most currently changed folders/files last. On the other hand the "Users" (light grey to the left) and "System" (yellow) are placed towards the beginning of the volume, because after OS X' installation the folder's attributes are hardly ever changed again.

    With DU/CCC it's the other way around. Since A comes first the "Application folder is placed at the beginning while the "System" folder and especially the "Users" folder are placed last because of the alphabetical sorting.

    With both the "Developer" (dark green) folder is placed rather at the beginning while the "Library" (grey in the middle) is placed somewhere in between. Alto with both the destination volume is not only 99.9% defragged, but also nearly completely consolidated (all data put together into one block at the beginning of the volume with a huge unfragmented block of free space after that).

    PS: Don't get fooled by the big red areas (fragmented) in the CCC image, these are huge files that are only fragmented into 2 pieces because of Events being written by OS X to the destination volume while copying took place. Obviously OS X does not care a 100% for unfragmented writing even when it already knows how big a file is that is being written. That's ok, because any fragmentation smaller than 8 pieces isn't that much of a problem.
  18. Timur macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2008
    After lots of trying around to copy my Bootcamp partition without third-party tools but only partial success (cloning was easier than getting it to be bootable) I found the application WinClone and now successfuly copied (and enlarged along the way) my Bootcamp partition as well.

    So the combination of CCC and WinClone is a winning team for me, not only for cloning, but also for changing the partitioning scheme/sizes and defragging/sorting the OS X partition along the way. Winclone, like CCC, is Donationware.
  19. Timur macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2008
    Small addition:

    To stop events (fseventsd) on the destination drive do the following:

    1. Create a file called "no_log" (no extension!) inside the hidden". fseventsd" folder. It should be an empty (zero/0 size file), but it seems that others work as well. One way is to just create an empty .RTF file (Textedit) and then remove the .rtf extension.

    2. Use "Activity Monitor" to stop the "fseventsd" process twice (aka 2 times). You will notice that after the second time it will disappear from the list of processes just to reappear a few seconds later.

    3. After successful cloning the volume you can reenable events on the destination by deleting the "no_log" file from the hidden folder.
  20. nikhsub1 macrumors 68020


    Jun 19, 2007
    mmmm... jessica.'s beer...
    Will any of these methods also copy a boot camp partition with windows on it?
  21. Timur macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2008
    Disk Utility can clone a Bootcamp/Windows partition, but it wont create the necessary entries to make it bootable. You need to use a free application called "Winclone". It takes quite long but it works and within restrictions even allows you to change partition sizes.
  22. Timur macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2008
    I just checked the current version 2.6.2 of Superduper and it still seems to use only a single thread for copying and sort by "date modified".

    So CCC still has an edge there. ;)
  23. Timur macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2008
  24. applegrandpa macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2009
    The latest version of SuperDuper has some serious bugs, don't update. Shirtpocket is aware of them and working on a fix. Wait for the next version.

    Why are you defragging? There is, under OSX, absolutely no need:
  25. Timur macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2008
    First of all, I am not defragging, but when you clone a volume the destination volume is automatically laid out in the order by which the cloning app copies the files. That ordering can have a considerate impact on how quick files are read from that drive.

    And as long as no system services like Spotlight and Fsevent don't intervene the files on the destination remain unfragmented. But you have to turn these off to make sure no fragmentation occurs.

    Furthermore OS X only automatically defragments files smaller than 20 mb and even then it can take quite some time before such a file is moved and you have to control over it. Any file bigger than 20 mb is never defragmented by OS X.

    Anyway, CCC allows to start scripts before and after the cloning operation and I now wrote my own scripts that automatically turn off Spotlight and Events before the cloning and back on afterwards.

    Furthermore my script automatically checks the integrity of the destination after cloning (Disk Utility "Verify") and compared all destination files with the source files and lists all files that differ from each other. The latter makes both sure that files were written properly and that they can be read.

Share This Page