Hard drive cloning questions

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ericinboston, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. ericinboston macrumors 68000

    Jan 13, 2008
    Hi all. I have a few technical and non-technical questions.

    I just got a new Macbook Pro with Yosemite and it has a 500GB drive. Since it's fresh out of the box, I would like to clone (sometimes called imaging) the drive to a new USB 3.0 500GB or larger drive before I start installing software on it. The purpose of this would to allow the external drive to act, essentially, as a 2nd Mac...I could boot to either drive and decide if I wanted to do work on the original internal drive or the secondary drive. I could boot to the external while my wife boots to the internal and we would truly have 2 completely different OS installs and apps etc.

    1)Are there any legal/licensing questions I need to figure out?...such as do I need to buy a license for Yosemite that is on the external drive (this OS seems to be completely free as I can't find any way to buy it).

    2)Is CCC (Carbon Copy Cloner) the way to go? I recall using it about 8 years ago but the new/pay version has a different interface and all the searching for using it to truly clone pulls up 2+ year old web articles.

    3)Can I buy a larger drive than 500GB which would allow the external Yosemite OS to still work and utilize all the extra space (such as if I buy a 1TB drive)

    4)Any other topics I have not thought of?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. CoastalOR macrumors 68020


    Jan 19, 2015
    Oregon, USA
    1) No, you will be OK. There is no need to buy a license for the external drive.
    2) CCC is my favorite and has been the most reliable for me. Here is a link to the CCC4 Documentation:
    3) Yes, you can run Yosemite and use the extra space on a larger external drive.
    4) If you use the external and your wife uses the internal then consider what you are going to do to backup your generated data for both drives. You may need a 3rd drive that has 2 partitions with a backup of your external and the wife's internal.
  3. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
    How much drive space each do you and your wife really need?

    You could do what you propose by partitioning your hard drive and the experience will be better for the person who would have been using the external.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009

    I have done EXACTLY what you want to do already.
    Here's what to do:

    When you unpack the MB, don't just boot it up yet.
    Think about what you need to do.

    Have an external target drive ready.

    Have a copy of CarbonCopyCloner downloaded. I suggest that you download a fresh copy right off bombich's page, and leave it compressed in "zip" format. Put this onto a USB flashdrive that you can connect to the new MacBook at the appropriate moment.

    Now, connect the target drive to the MacBook (BEFORE you boot).

    Let the boot proceed to the first welcoming screen.

    Now, execute your moves carefully.
    You want to create a "bare bones" generic account WITHOUT registering the machine.

    I chose username "administrator", and password "administrator".
    The username IS the password.
    Security doesn't matter at this point -- you WANT an system that is "easy to get to" and replicable.

    Don't register the Mac.
    Don't create an iCloud account.
    Don't choose to send feedback.
    Don't set up email.
    Essentially, don't do anything other than create an account containing a username and password so that you can "get to the finder".

    At this point, you should be at the finder and be looking at it as any new user would be, before doing anything else to begin interacting with the machine.

    Now, connect the USB drive with CCC on it.
    Put the CCC "zip" file onto the desktop and LEAVE IT THERE.
    DO NOT unzip it or put it into the applications folder.
    WHY you want to do this:
    As soon as you unzip and launch CCC, the "30-day timer" starts running that will require registration (after the 30-day trial has run out).
    Of course, at some point you'll need to unzip CCC to replicate the OS.
    In this case, do unzip and use it.
    Now, you can use a search tool (I prefer "EasyFind") to search for and delete ALL components of CCC on your drive. Pay attention to ".plist" and ".playlist" files.
    Now CCC (as an operating app) will be gone, and at some point in the future you can just re-unzip the desktop copy of CCC for another replication as required.

    What I also did is put "Monolingual" onto my barebones OS drive, and run it -- stripping out all languages except English. This "tears out" more than 1gb of data I will never have any need for. I've never experienced any problems with any install after doing this. YMMV.

    This about does it.
    I now have at hand a "near-clone" of the OS as it came on the drive new.
    Not "exact", because there's now a skeleton account on it, some copied files, and the non-English languages have been removed.
    But's it's "close enough" for me.

    When it's time to "replicate" the drive to an empty drive:
    - connect the target drive and initialize if necessary
    - unzip CCC and launch it
    - in CCC's preferences, set it so that it will clone the recovery partition as well as the "main" one
    - aim CCC at the target and let it go
    - when clone is finished, power down, disconnect everything
    - now boot from the target and see if it gets you to the finder
    - when at the finder, use Migration Assistant to "bring over" whatever needed (or do it "by hand")
    - the bare bones original account can be retained, or deleted.

    I have used a setup like this to upgrade a friend's 2008 iMac from its original OS to 10.8.5, and it's running without problems. It works.

    You may wish to adjust things to your own needs.

    I've also done the same with El Capitan.
    I did the original barebones install to an OLD firewire400 drive, went fine.
    I optimized the install.
    Then I cloned it over to a 16gb flash drive (8gb isn't large enough any more).
    It works, too.
  5. ericinboston thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 13, 2008
    Basically we each need at least 256GB...the problem is that the Mac came with a 256GB drive and it's not worth the time and money to replace it with a 1TB SSD that is PCIE. I've also got spare USB 3.0 drives hanging around.

    I tried CCC last night with a 1TB USB 3.0 drive and the copy/creation process was fast and easy. However, it does boot a bit slow and in general a little sluggish. I'm in the process of buying a (hopefully) faster usb enclosure and a SSD drive. I'm aware USB 3.0 is the bottleneck but according the speed tests I'm seeing, the new external will be at least 2x as fast as my external now.

    Lastly, the "external boot system" will be used more rarely and basically for Photos so performance isn't critical...but I am a performance freak. :)
  6. Potatochobit macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2011
    If you have A PC

    easeuse partition master is GREAT AND FREE

    and yes, a PC can clone two mac drives with no issues.

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