Time Machine or Carbon Copy Cloner??

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by WhatAmIDoing111, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. WhatAmIDoing111 macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2014
    I am selling my Mac, and I want to backup my entire Mac to my external Hard Drive. Because I am getting a new computer, I don't want to backup my Mac in a way which will only be viewable on the Mac I have right now. I want to backup my Mac in a way which will let me see the stuff I had on my Mac whenever I like. BUT my new computer won't be connected to the Hard Drive where I backed up my Mac.
    I am trying to start over from scratch with the new computer I'm getting, but I want to know that I can look at some of my old stuff from my old Mac if I ever feel like it.

    Will Time Machine or Carbon Copy Cloner do the trick? I heard that Time Machine only works if you restore your entire computer while using Time Machine...is this correct? In that case, it won't be good for me because I don't want to put all my old stuff on my new computer, I just want to be able to access it. I have just used TM for the first time on a hard drive I have, without making a new partition or formatting my hard drive.. does that mean it won't work properly?
    From what I understand, to use CCC you have to format your External Hard Drive first, right? That isn't an option for me unfortunately.
    Also, should I perhaps just copy my entire computer to my external hard drive manually? Should I just drag and drop all my folders? What are the downsides of this?

    Sorry for so many questions, I know close to nothing on all these topics. Thank you so much in advance, this stuff has been stressing me for months!
  2. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    If you were able to complete a Time Machine backup to a drive it must have already been properly formatted, otherwise Time Machine would have told you there was a problem and stopped.

    For the type of easy access later you want for these files, a Time Machine backup is not a very good option for that. You would be better off just cloning the existing internal disk to an external drive. You can use CCC or even Disk Utility to do the clone.
  3. WhatAmIDoing111 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2014
    Hey! Thanks for the reply.
    How can I know if Time Machine has completed it's task or not? Actually I don't really understand how TM works exactly. Isn't it exactly like a carbon copy? Is the only difference between TM and CCC that with TM you have to restore your entire computer to a specific date that you backed up your computer on? If I purchase a new computer and use it for a while without connecting to the Hard Drive where I backed up my old Mac, will I have to format my new computer with TM to access my old information? Will I lose all the new data that I have accumulated on my new computer if I use TM?
    And with CCC - can I buy a new computer without connecting to my Hard Drive where I stored my old Mac, but still have access to my old Mac whenever I connect the Hard Drive to my new computer?
    One final question: How can I use Disk Utilities to back up my computer, and what are the advantages/disadvantages of doing so?
    Thank you so much!!
  4. ColdCase, Aug 24, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Click on the time machine icon in the menu bar (top right side) and it will tell you the status of the last backup.

    With TM, when you enter time machine you can scroll back in time and pick a file to restore. There is no "reformat" involved. You can use migration assistant to pick and chose files from the backup drive to transfer to the new MAC. You can direct Time Machine to one backup set or another in its preferences panel.

    I think you need to setup the same user account on the new machine to see old backups for the user.

    A CCC or disk utility backup looks like a copy of your old computer hard drive but on an external drive. From the finder you can open, edit, move, copy individual files just like you would with any hard drive. There may also be archive folders where CCC moves files that you deleted or older version of files you modified. You can view and move/copy those files individually also. If set up for booting, you can boot from the cloned (backup) hard drive and your computer will look just like it was when the clone was created.

    The new machine may need a user defined and logged in that matches the one that backed up the files.

    Personally I use both TM and CCC as each has different strengths and weaknesses. The extra small drive needed is cheap.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Use CarbonCopyCloner.

    It will save an exact copy of the internal drive of your old computer to the backup drive.

    Everything will be "right there" in POFF (plain old finder format) -- easy to mount and access with the new Mac.

    I have read many many posts on this forum from people trying to access older TM backups and..... they couldn't.

    CCC will make it easy to "get back there" when you need to.
  6. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    TM is an incremental backup program built into the operating system intended to backup your entire internal drive. The big difference with CCC is CCC is mainly a disk "cloning" application and although it can be configured to save incremental backups, they are not easily restored to a point back in time like TM is.

    Both TM and CCC will create a backup disk that can be booted to and used to restore a new computer. The difference there is the TM backup needs to restore the backup to a existing disk before it can boot to that disk and run the computer.Where with CCC is you are in a pinch and need to you can boot right to the CCC clone and actually run from that disk.

    You can tell TM is done with a backup by looking at this scene in the TM pane of System Prefs. You can see the time the last backup completed.

    Yes, like I mentioned earlier if you just want to have your old files available on a external disk, CCC or a Disk Utility clone is the better option for that. Both of those will leave the files just as they are now in folder on a new disk.

    Disk Utility just clones and does not do incremental backups. You just go to the restore tab of DU then drag the source disk into the source section and drag the destination disk into the destination section then click restore on the lower right and the disk will be cloned to the destination you picked exactly like it would be if you used CCC.


    Disk Util is fine for a full clone, but does not do incremental backups if you want to use it for a backup tool. So let's say you have 350GB of data on the disk and you clone that over with DU. Then you add 1GB of data and now have 351GB of total data and run a DU clone again... 351GB of data would get moved over again rather than just the 1GB of changes like TM or a second run of CCC would do.
  7. WhatAmIDoing111 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2014
    Thank you all so much. I can't tell you how helpful you have all been!

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