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I just bought a new Mac Mini M1 running Ventura 13.6 (22G120) and want to setup Carbon Copy Cloner 6 to backup my computer to an external drive. My destination is a folder within said drive (as I have other files and backups on it).

Should I select the whole internal drive "Macintosh HD" or just select the user folder: Macintosh HD/Users/myusername?

If I select "Macintosh HD", will I be able to just drag and drop all the applications and settings/preferences if my source SSD were to be formatted to factory settings? If not, then I'd rather save some space on my external drive and just backup the personal files from the Users/myusername folder.

Thanks.

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Just choose Macintosh HD, it's the safest. CCC will work out what it should and should not copy, e.g it will exclude the SSV.

If you exclude everything bar your User folder, you may lose other customisation at the system level if you only have that to restore. The restore process would be a standard Recovery Mode OS install followed by Migration Assistant restore. A CCC backup is supported as a Migration Assistant source, so you don't need to reinstall CCC to restore.

See How to setup your first backup

However, DO NOT make the backup to a separate folder on your destination drive. You should as a minimum create a new APFS volume on the external disk to use as the destination. If not, CCC may delete contents on the destination it does not consider to be part of the backup.

For restore, follow the CCC help. It is very comprehensive.

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    You might want bold (or <strong>) instead of just upper-case.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 19:39
  • Thanks Andy! I'll chose Macintosh HD as the Source instead to backup customizations. It'll be much quicker to restore w/ Migration Assistant if the preferences are also included. As to the concern about other files in the external drive, CCC's help page says: You can use CCC to back up your data to a subfolder on the destination volume. When backing up to a subfolder on the destination volume, CCC's copying and deleting considerations are made entirely within the scope of that subfolder — content outside of that subfolder is not considered or affected by the backup task.
    – apertur
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 11:22
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    @apertur Fair enough, but I couldn't say whether Migration Assistant would use a folder as a source. As an APFS volume is dynamically sized within the container you don't have to reserve space for it on your external disk. It is by far the safest option for a full machine backup, and I'm sure Bombich would agree. Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 11:38
  • Oh yes... you're right. There is a few extra steps if I want to restore from a folder. But it's still doable. Thanks for pointing it out. I will partition my 4TB next time. Here's the article from CCC about restoring from a folder: bombich.com/kb/ccc6/…
    – apertur
    Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 0:33

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