I know that we can easily use time machine. However, i wonder if there exist any other way to backup the data on my macbook? Since I do a lot of modification to the system and sometimes make it has kernel panic, I would need the backup program to be able to restore everything from a bootable cd (the backup file can be on the hard disk).

So, if your solution offers a bootable backup, that's great, but I'm more interested in equivalent functionality of Time Machine where multiple snapshots are available.

  • 1
    You can setup your system with your Mac OS X cd and revert to the last time machine backup.
    – dertkw
    Commented May 17, 2011 at 18:36
  • 1
    Consider using a virtual machine installation of OS X for tinkering, and leave the base system unchanged. Then you can just roll back. Commented Jul 15, 2012 at 0:00

5 Answers 5


To create bootable backups which contain everything including system files, you may want to look at Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper.

  • Is one of them better than the other ?
    – Cedric H.
    Commented May 17, 2011 at 20:16
  • 3
    I use CCC mainly because I found it first and it works
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 8:15
  • Another happy CCC user here.
    – boehj
    Commented May 27, 2011 at 13:04
  • I use SuperDuper (and have CCC). Been using it for many years and have never had an issue.
    – Richard
    Commented May 2, 2013 at 21:40

Carbon Copy Cloner is a nice application. It is free.

  • CCC is now a commercial product. 39.95$
    – masted
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 20:12

I would do this in the reverse way. Use Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper to make a bootable clone of your working disk, to an external hard disk. It doesn't need all of your data on it, just the system. Use this copy to do your experimentation with. If something goes wrong, just make another clone of your system disk. This keeps the main system disk always in working condition.


A combination of SuperDuper for complete bootable backups, and something like Crashplan for offline backup is a good bet.

  • Use SuperDuper to make one or more bootable 'known good' back up disks (these can be on separate partitions of a USB drive for example). This gives you a complete backup of your entire system that you can restore quickly.

  • Use Crashplan to back up data files offsite, and to other computers if you have them. This means that even if your computers and disks are damaged or stolen, you still have an offline copy of your data.

(Note, a true offline copy will take much longer to restore but it is really a backup of last resort, i.e. when all else fails)

  • Does crash plan offer any sort of snapshot or versioning of backups?
    – bmike
    Commented May 2, 2013 at 16:24

The KISS Principle would suggest restoring your system from the OS X DVD that came with your Mac.

For personal files, I think the best backup option is cloud storage, like Dropbox (2GB free, $10/mo for 50GB, $20/mo for 100GB). It instantly syncs files between all your Internet-connected computers, and you can access them from your mobile device(s), too. No extra charge for data in/out, so it's a good solution for restoring all personal files from scratch after reinstalling the OS.

Common sense also advises against storing important personal files on a computer that you're making significant system-level changes to, especially if you've "broken" your computer in that way before.

  • but this will be a slower restore that CCC or superduper which have a complete duplicate
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 17, 2011 at 18:44
  • @Mark Slower, perhaps -- but your backup of your personal data is always guaranteed to be perfectly up-to-date as long as you're connected to the Internet. For cloning-style backup apps, you'd have to expend significant effort to make daily backups.
    – Austin
    Commented May 17, 2011 at 18:46
  • Dropbox offers great functionality including the limited ability to undelete files, but Time Machine backs everything up and Dropbox backs up limited items, over a slow connection and offers selective un-delete of a subset of a subset of the contents on a Mac. I see dropbox as an adjunct to a good full backup solution for files that need to be off-site and in a third place - not a primary backup solution.
    – bmike
    Commented May 2, 2013 at 16:23

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