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I'm considering upgrading at long last to Mavericks, but need to feel confident that all my apps & workflows will work properly before committing 100%. I boot off of an external Thunderbolt SSD normally, so that's where my current boot system is (with all my apps installed, etc.).

I have an internal drive with a secondary simple boot partition, also on Mountain Lion. I basically use it on those occasions I need to boot from a different partition to do disk diagnostics, test things out in a "sandbox" of sorts, etc.

I'm wondering if I can copy my current Mountain Lion system volume - apps and all - to the internal boot partition, and then update THAT drive to Mavericks and run off it for a while until I'm confident that Mavericks is going to work for me. At that point I would update my SSD and be committed.

Is this viable? I know that back in the pre-OSX days it was trivial to just copy a system folder and presto - it would boot on a different drive. But I'm not quite sure this is still the case.

To reiterate, the internal drive I want to copy my system to is already a bootable system partition, so there should be no special blessing or anything required I would think.

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Cloned drives are generally not a problem. You don't want to do a simple drag/drop. SuperDuper from ShirtPocket will clone your drive and ensure it's bootable. CarbonCopyCloner will do the same.

There are some more details in How can I get my laptop's existing system onto a new replacement drive?

  • Yeah the thing is, I specifically would rather not go through the whole cloning process & restoring a drive to another drive, since this is not a "new" drive, not is it actually going to serve as a "replacement" for my current drive. Definitely don't want to deal with Time Machine for the same reasons. Is there any technical reason why drag & drop of my current boot partition's contents will not work, for my purpose of merely evaluating Mavericks for several days before committing my primary drive to it? – Jonathan van Clute Apr 8 '14 at 20:18
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You can use TimeMachine to save data you need (by default all information include entire system will be saved) and then restore it to new HDD.

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I ended up just imaging my SSD boot drive using Disk Utility and then restoring that image onto my secondary boot drive. Worked fine and I am now testing out Mavericks without risk to my old system if I decide I need to migrate back.

  • That's the same technique I offered using a different tool. Nice point trolling. – 8None1 Apr 12 '14 at 18:27
  • huh? Don't know what you're talking about. I didn't really think of this as the same thing as using CCC, it was a lot less trouble than I remember CCC being in the past. Hell I gave your answer an upvote so I don't see what your problem is. I was just answering the question with what I actually did, which I thought was the whole point around here... – Jonathan van Clute Apr 14 '14 at 22:34

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