I would like to make an image of my entire OSX install, so that I may restore to it if necessary. I'd LOVE to have incremental backups, so bonus points if anyone can figure out how I can do this!

I've enabled full reading/writing to an NTFS drive by following steps similar to those outlined in this guide: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13727_7-57588773-263/how-to-manually-enable-ntfs-read-and-write-in-os-x/

I have an NTFS-based drive (which must remain NTFS based as it's used by a windows install as well). I'd like to be able to backup an image of my OSX to the drive.

I cannot find any solution that simply makes a compressed image of OSX and allows you to save it somewhere; all the solutions seem to require formatting the drive (for example, Time Machine wants to create an entire partition on the drive). I don't want this, I just want an image file of the drive (smaller size the better), which I can backup to my NTFS drive and restore from incase needed.

Bonus points if the solution allows incremental backups, so I can just have 1 image that is updated regularly.

Please, any advice is MUCH appreciated!


If you use Disk Utility to image an HFS filesystem into one dmg file, the resulting file is portable no matter what filesystem you store it on.

Where things get complicated is incremental backups. If you want incremental backups and a DIY solution, choose a sparse disk image and use rsync to update the band files that you store on NTFS, just like Time Machine does to Time Capsule.

If you really just want a painless backup solution, you might select a professional tool set such as (in alphabetical order):

Since I listed some of the more popular incremental backup software packages (some are hosted, some you can self host), the one that seems to fit your requirement the best is the free CrashPlan software that would be self hosted and need a computer connected to the NTFS drive to host the Mac data as a backup destination.

  • And I realize this is a bit of a glib answer, but your question is basically, how can I re-implement a cloud backup solution which is not an easy task. The software needed for encapsulating HFS+ and storing it on NTFS is no different than putting the data anywhere over the network. Actual cloud storage has lots of downsides, but your problem seems equivalent to me technically.
    – bmike
    Nov 16 '13 at 18:24
  • Thanks for your reply -- I'm not really looking for a cloud solution as I'd like to simply back the image up to a local NTFS drive. I haven't looked through all the links you provided yet, do any of the solutions you posted allow that? I'd like a software solution so I can somewhat set it and forget it.
    – tdc
    Nov 16 '13 at 18:32
  • Yes - crash plan is set and forget. Two installs and automatic, incremental, efficient backup. It solves the larger need and not so much you needing to own the tech stack on how backups happen. Also, you could either do a periodic full disk image or just rely on Recovery HD to restore the OS should you need a full restore after say a hardware failure.
    – bmike
    Nov 16 '13 at 18:34
  • Great! last couple of questions (thank you very much for all your help): 1) does crashplan allow a full image backup, or just specific files/folders? I'd like to preserve my apps, settings, et al in entirety, and then incrementally backup these changes as time goes on. 2) crashplan allows OSX to backup to NTS? Thanks again. :)
    – tdc
    Nov 16 '13 at 18:36
  • We should split this off to a new thread - but 1) No - plan is file based, so you'll want it and a periodic image from Disk Utility if you need periodic snapshots. 2) crash plan runs on Windows, Linux and Mac.
    – bmike
    Nov 16 '13 at 18:39

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