How to Create a Bootable Clone of Your Entire Mac to External Drive

Backup Mac, before you lose your hard drive, dead for any reason or having a startup problem with your Mac or just want to save your projects and office work on urgent bases or want to save family photos or videos. In any case, creating a clone copy of your entire Mac system files and also makes it bootable as the same copy of your Mac OS drive is very handy in these cases which are mention above or you name it.
There is a built-in utility app in Mac OS which lets you create a clone of your entire hard drive, but it will not boot if you lost your built-in drive or having startup issues with your Mac. There are some third-party applications available in the market which lets you make a full clone backup on the external hard drive which will also boot like the internal drive.

Things you need to create bootable backup Clone of Mac

External Drive: An external hard drive which has to be the same size as an internal drive or higher. Make sure you do not have anything significant on this external drive because while creating backup drive will be formatted and all the date on the external drive will be gone.

Apps to create a bootable backup: Third party utilities which let you perform such an action is SuperDuper and Carbon Copy Cloner. These two apps are a lot better and have more feature than the built-in utility of Mac OS. Both apps are free and paid based on features. A free version of these apps lets you do a backup with the bootable option and on the other hand, paid version to have some extra features like update backup with new changes and having schedule backup on a regular basis. Free versions will fulfill our need. So we will use the free version for this task.

We already posted about How to Setup Time Machine on Mac OS X to create a backup of your Mac with Time machine you can create a backup of your full Mac, but it won’t boot. To make your backup bootable, you need to follow


Create bootable backup Clone of Primary Mac drive

In this case, we are using Super Duper to create a bootable clone on the internal hard drive. The other app Carbon Copy Cloner is also almost same as Super Duper.

  1. Download and install Super Duper on your Mac OS. Plug in your external drive on which you want to save clone copy. Make sure you don’t have any data on this drive because it will be formatted automatically.
  2. Now open Super Duper. Select your internal hard drive in “Copy” and in “to” select your external hard drive. Also, make sure to don’t mess with the using section filed because all the other options except “Back – all files” won’t create a bootable drive with all your files. So in “to” field select “Backup – all files” to make your external drive bootable along with entire data.
  3. When everything’s ready, all the drives and backup options are set click on “Copy Now,” and you will be promoted to a new window which will ask you to enter the password.
    mac drive clone
  4. Your bootable backup will start copying to your selected internal hard drive. It will take time to complete the task depends on your hard drive size. While completing this work, you can use your Mac, and leave the backup process in the background.
  5. When finished you can check the backup will looks same as your internal hard drive structure. The entire files and folders look same. Now you can eject and unplug your external drive.

How to boot from bootable backup Clone

  • To boot up from the backup drive, just plug in your external hard drive into your Mac. Now startup your Mac by pressing the Power button and hold the Option key right after pressing the power button to go into bootable options.
    mac boot option
  • In bootable screen, you will see your both internal and external drive. To boot from the backup click on the external drive and then click an arrow on below external drive. You will see you Mac will boot normally and everything will look same as an internal drive.
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