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I'd like to know if is possible to make a full, bootable, and restorable image of an entire Yosemite installed system, (that is, with all installed apps and settings) without using a commercial software like Carbon Copy Cloner (which is no longer free, indeed).

I found those threads: Creating a OS backup image for an easy restore on a new system and How do I make a bootable USB flash drive a Mac?

but both seem to propose recipes to create a bootable OS X thumb drive along with a set of basic tools, while I require a method to perform a full image of my installation.

Thanks a lot.

  • I presume u can create a bootable drive with a clean .dmg and rsync the difference. No guarantees, but I don't see how it would not work. – fartheraway May 24 '15 at 15:03
  • Sorry but I'm a mac newcomer. Let me ask for details: you are suggesting to create a .dmg image of the installed system with disk utility. Ok, I'll google to see how to do it. But once that image is created, how can I make it bootable, and how can I restore it? Also, what do you mean about rsync-ing the differences? Thanks. – MadHatter May 24 '15 at 15:08
  • DL yosemite from App Store, install it onto a flash drive. Now u have a pristine and operational system. rsync is a command-line copy&paste. It can spot the difference between you current os and the new os, and override the new os with files from current os, thus creating an identical copy of the current os with correct file permission etc. – fartheraway May 24 '15 at 15:14
  • This way u can not only create a copy of current os at one point in time, u can also keep the flash drive up 2 date by adding and subtracting files – fartheraway May 24 '15 at 15:18
  • This is very interesting, and I'm digging into the rsync man page. But what about the other method, imaging with the Disk Utility? Thanks. – MadHatter May 24 '15 at 16:11
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I think this is what you are meaning.

In terminal type in sudo dd if="/dev/disk0" of="/volumes/<volume>/image.img"

Warning

Entering this command wrong could render your computer useless.

Info

disk0 is the hard drive of your Mac and <volume> is the name of your external drive and image.img is the name of the file you will create

To restore go to internet recovery and swap the if and of arguments.

This will also backup any partitions you have on your computer. This means if you have boot camp setup it will also backup and restore windows too. Bonus!

Disclaimer
I am not responsible for any damage that you cause to your system when entering in this command. Research the use of the dd command if you are not sure how this works before proceeding.

  • I would not recommend this approach; if the target volume is smaller than the source, you wind up with unusable space; if the target is smaller, it won't restore properly. Also, the image will include all blank space (and fragmented files, etc) from the source. I'd strongly recommend using the Apple tools (see @Redarm's comment) or DeployStudio instead. – Gordon Davisson May 24 '15 at 21:28
  • While I don't think I'll go with the infamous dd (too dangerous), nonetheless I'd like to know how restore an image created with dd. Thanks. – MadHatter May 25 '15 at 0:03
  • @MadHatter To restore just swap the if and of. – iProgram May 25 '15 at 8:11
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    While I prefer to not accept this answer, I invite all of you to upvote it: it's useful information. – MadHatter May 26 '15 at 14:37
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    Got it :-) I don't blame you, just your method has some potential downsides expecially for unix newcomers. Nonetheless, as I said, useful to know! Thanks. – MadHatter May 26 '15 at 15:40

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