CCC versus DropDMG

Hi Mac Experts -

Tough cloning problem, “Carbon Copy Cloner”  versus  “DropDMG” - - - which is “better” for cloning a boot SSD for backup purposes.

Both of those two utilities are seldom used by “ordinary” Mac users, so I am having a terrible time trying to unearth their pros and cons.

Both utilities can handle hidden files, hidden EFI partitions, “hard links”, and other hidden pseudocode that Apple throws up as part of their file systems - - - such that a “Restored” internal boot SSD is a more-or-less  dead ringer for the original internal boot SSD.  ( 1-TB )

…bootable and all.

Perhaps I better describe what I am trying to do?

I suffer bursts of creative activity, usually when I forget to take my medications.   ;-)

I   _try_   to create backups often, but like many other Mac users I am remiss.

And any recent backup is   _still_   missing the most recent activity, which often takes me hours to re-construct assuming I can even remember what I did.

I thought of desperate means of reconstructing recent activity, such as buying a “White Hat” key-logger to recreate my recent keyboard activity.

Is that even feasible?   Are any good key-logger app’s for sale commercially?

Will the   “En Ess Say”  list me as a cyber-terrorist because I bought a key-logger?

Will I have to live in Peru along with Edward Snowden?

ANYHOW back to my simple question.

Does  “DropDMG”  do roughly the same thing as  CCC ?   (Carbon Copy Cloner)

Usually Mac geeks buy everything in sight, just to check out weird utilities.

Any Mac geeks in EE ?
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Sigurdur ArmannssonDesigner Commented:
I have not used DropDMG but it seems to do very similar stuff as Carbon Copy Cloner which I am more used to. DropDMG description does not mention if it clones the Restore disk.
Both programs seem to be pretty good for what you are after.

As you describe it, it seems very important that you would make a good cloned copy of your disk with the ability to start up from the backup if the main disk fails.

You would also need frequent backups not only off hours but while you work. DropDMG is promising you do a backup while you work and I can confirm that CCC can also make backups and cloning while I am working on that disk.

You would need to schedule frequent backups so you would never have to worry about it. Both applications can do that.

I however use CCC mainly to make clones of Users to move to other macs but use Chronosync to do the kind of daily mirroring of file servers or computers. It's very easy to set up different kind of backups, like one every month of your whole disk run only at night, hourly of your workspace etc. Please take a look at that one.(
SuperSenileAuthor Commented:
"DropDMG description does not mention if it clones the Restore disk."

Through trial and error DropDMG seems to clone all the "hidden" stuff like CCC does.

Main problem I have with   _both_   utilities is because I have HUGE backups of 400GB and more on the client Macs I am backing up - - - it takes me anywhere from an hour to four-hours to create a backup, even with CCC.

Meanwhile my client is merrily typing away with new stuff, and of course they keep no record of what they are typing.   :-|    - - - mainly convoluted database entries

So I get yelled at for my out-of-date "Restores".

Been thinking of desperate measures like key-loggers to restore the recent client entries after the main Restore is done.

Key-logger possibly under the control of the client ?   ( his trusted employee? )

Course even key-loggers would miss stuff like speech input, which does not use the keyboard.
You should probably get yourself a large Time Machine Disk and have your system back up to Time Machine frequently.

As for Cloning:

Disk clones are always slow the first time around.  They're no longer really necessary except for special cases, such as digital forensics.  Cloning takes far too long and puts your system out of commission.

You would have less downtime just installing a new OSX onto an external disk or even with another system, then use Migration Assistant for the system files and rsync for the /Users/ folders.  You can either do the rsync first or the Migration Assistant first.  If you want the user to have the least amount of downtime, do the rsync first.  If you have to wait for a few days, you can periodically rsync to reduce the final rsync time when they have time to give you access.

When the user can give you full access, run a final rsync with a 2nd admin account, then run the Migration Assistant on just the system files and system settings and you're done.  The Applications could be done either via rsync or Migration Assistant.  I rsync them and install a few of the larger apps to reduce the total user down time.  You could actually run Migration Assistant on the entire thing, but that would take almost as long as cloning the disk.

To clone your user account, open a Terminal to rsync the 400 GB /Users/ACCOUNT_NAME folder via command line.
rsync -a /Users/ACCOUNT_NAME "/Volumes/Macintosh HD-1/Users/"

Unless you've specifically given a name to your install disk, it will generally be "Macintosh HD".  Since your boot disk is also "Macintosh HD" your 2nd disk will be "Macintosh HD-1".

That rsync may take a few hours for the first pass.  You can do the rsync while the account is being used, but a few files will be become stale or corrupted along the way.  To make sure everything is duplicated correctly, you'll need to create a 2nd admin account to a final rsync.  You can do it all with the 2nd admin account, but I usually run rsync while the account is being used, then when it's done, I log out of the account and log into the 2nd account and run rsync again from the 2nd account.  The 2nd pass only takes a few minutes to copy the changes.  This way you can continue working and minimize the total downtime to just a few minutes.

You can rsync remotely, so that you don't have to attach a disk to the User's system while they're working, but it's a bit slower over the network.  Enable ssh (Remote Login) and you can run the rsync from a remote terminal, while your user is working.  You'll need to add your ssh key to the root account.  You don't have to enable the root account password.

Here's the command to copy from the remote system to the USB disk attached to your local system
rsync -a root@REMOTE_SYSTEM_NAME:/Users/ACCOUNT_NAME "/Volumes/Macintosh HD-1/Users/"

You can use Migration Assistant for the entire thing, but that takes much longer.  If you want to work on the system while it's "cloning", you should rsync your User files and possibly the Application files and just run Migration Assistant to get the remaining system and network settings.  The user profile is all in their /Users/ACCOUNT/ home directory, so all their personal settings will be copied during the rsync.  Everything should be the same once the process is completed.

Once you've made the first copy, you can rsync the entire user folder periodically, but I still suggest Time Machine.
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SuperSenileAuthor Commented:
Thanks serialband  

I did not realize how little I know about backing up a Mac while simultaneously using a Mac in my dotage.

It will take me a while to digest and check out your detailed response, because I am in my 2nd childhood.

I just did a  "man rsync" and it scared the life out of me.

Terminal's man pages are used to frighten little kids and old geezers.

"Cloning takes far too long and puts your system out of commission"

That is what I found out.  My response to that was to have two identical Macs, one Mac "in use" while the other Mac was being cloned via "Target Disk Mode"  from the "in use" Mac.

Then switch Macs, the new "in use" Mac would now put me in the CatBird seat.

That scheme worked pretty good as long as the size of both Macs was 20-GB or less.

Did not work worth sour apples if the "used" size of both Macs was huge, say 400-GB.

So then I got really desperate, I downloaded WebWatcher, a key-logger program with a wild plan to quickly dump the keys into my clones to bring them up to date.

Plus then I would not have to spend a month or more trying to learn " rsync ".    ;-)

All that did not work worth sour apples, mainly because WebWatcher was way too expensive for enterprise work, think $6,000 or more plus yearly contracts.

Tell ya, it is downright fun trying to solve this problem in my senile old age.   :-)

I do not use TM because it is kinda weak when it comes to whole drive backups, missing properly backing up a lot of hidden stuff that "clones" catch.

TM is great for handling regular non-hidden files though - - - and you   _can_   force TM to backup a lot of the hidden stuff if you know what you are doing, but it is a royal PITA.
I just put it in target mode and do rsync for the /Users account.  The command line stuff seems daunting at first, but if you manage a lot of systems, it's reduces a lot of work.

You don't need to use most of the options of rsync for cloning.  Just use the command I gave


You can compress the data when going over a network


SOURCE and DESTINATION are just the directory or filesystem path and can be a remote system path.  User_Account@remote_system:PATH

You can use Migration Assistant with a Thunderbolt Cable and that will be a little faster than Cloning, since you've already installed the OS Software..  Some Cloning software also copy the empty space, so you'll spend more time copying the disk.
SuperSenileAuthor Commented:
< sigh >  Everything would be so easy if terminals  dd  command worked great on todays modern SSDs - - - but it doesn't work well for backing up a SSD.

Okay, onwards and upwards.   I will tackle the rsync command.

I have a few questions.

Only respond to the questions you feel like addressing - - ignore the rest.

1)  " I just put it in target mode and do rsync for the /Users account. "

I am confused about the   _difference_   between a Users Account as compared to a Whole Disk Backup.

I am the only user, does that mean that backing up my Users Account is identical to backing up the entire drive?

I know, it is a stupid question, but I bet a lot of Mac users don't know the exact difference between backing up the Users Account versus backing up the entire internal SSD.

Is there a difference in size, for example?  (Users Account vs entire internal SSD)

If I  ONLY  back up the Users Account, is there any danger that the stuff I didn't back up will scuttle my User Account backup?

Am I asking the wrong questions???   ;-)

2) Does rsync "capture" all of Apple's  "meta-file" info' such as permissions, hard-links, file creation and modification dates, hidden files, and myriad other things in their HFS+ file system - - - or does rsync only work well with Unix based file systems?

Maybe I should just dive in and USE rsync instead of asking stupid questions.

It will become readily apparent whether rsync contributes to a "good" backup or not.

Many thanks for your patience.
You can't dd a live system.  You should be able to dd offline, but SSDs do wear leveling to remap their blocks as you use them.

Migration Assistant doesn't do the OS system executable files.  It only copies configurations/settings and Preferences files, so it will be faster.  When you've done a full install, you should already have identical OS system executable files.

The User account does not include OS files or the System level setting files.  User files exist in the /Users directory only.  The Migration Assistant copies settings from /Library, /System, /Applications, etc...  You can't copy a system file while it's running and loaded.  You end up with corruption.  Some files will copy, but some won't copy correctly.  You will always need to log out of the user account to complete a final rsync.  You will need to run Migration Assistant to copy System settings and Applications.  You must do both to copy the system.

The rsync command copies the changes.  It is heavily used in the linux/unix world to copy data for backup.  It's used with rsnapshot to create snapshot copies, just like Time Machine.  You can get the majority of the files while you're using the system, but you will need to log out of the account and use a 2nd user account to rsync again and get the rest of the files while you're not using them.  The 2nd pass will be much quicker because it will only need to copy the changes.

It's a 3 step process.  You will need to install a new OS, then rsync the larger user account data, then run Migration assistant.  It won't be a perfect 100% duplicate, because the OS will be a fresh install into different sectors on the disk.  The data will be duplicated, but they won't be on the same sectors of the disk.  The OS files might even be in a better state, as they'll be on uncorrupted sectors in a fresh install.

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SuperSenileAuthor Commented:
Could not be any clearer, thanks.

Now it is just a case of me stumbling into this and making my usual mistakes, prior to actually making it run smoothly.
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