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I am still on Mavericks and want to upgrade OS X, but since I use a lot of audio apps, plugins etc that would break - I am looking for a way to clone my entire Macbook Pro 1TB SSD as it is right now including OS X to an external 1TB drive. I then want to do a fresh install on the Macobook, but still be able to boot into the Maverick clone from the TB HHD to finish older projects, so I don't have to port everything.

What's the best and especially savest way of doing this?

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I have had good luck by booting into recovery mode and using Disk Utility to clone the drive before doing major OS X upgrades.

The steps:

  1. Plug in your USB drive.
  2. Boot your Mac into recovery mode by holding down command+r from the start of boot.
  3. Once the recovery menu comes up, select Disk Utility and click Continue.
  4. Select the drive you want to clone and click the "Restore" tab.
  5. Drag the destination (USB) drive to the "Destination" field.
  6. Click "Restore".

Once the process is complete, reboot the computer and hold down alt / option and select the drive you've cloned to. This is good to be sure it's functional before upgrading OS X on the main drive. Some software will detect that something's different (Dropbox, Photoshop) and may ask for credentials or to be setup again. But the vast majority of software just works as if nothing happened.

  • It will likely take a long time, especially for a 1 TB drive. You may be looking at up to 8 hours depending on the drive and USB speeds. – donut Nov 3 '15 at 19:22
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Sounds like a job for Carbon Copy Cloner; did you try it? http://bombich.com

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    CCC and my favorite SuperDuper will do the trick AND from a live system, but the DiskUtility/recovery mode trick is free and easy. Just wondering if the copy speeds are similar. – Steve Chambers Nov 4 '15 at 14:46

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