Carbon Copy Cloner’s 🤯 Blog Post on Bootable Backups

Mike has posted a very :warning: important :eyes: post on the Carbon Copy Cloner / Bombich Software blog:
Beyond Bootable Backups: Adapting recovery strategies for an evolving platform. I recommend reading the whole thing, but some important pieces (Note: the italics only emphasis is original but the bold and italics emphasis was added by me.)

Back in December I had a conference call with Apple …. They indicated that they were working to resolve the ASR/Apple Fabric issue, but they made it very clear that copying macOS system files was not something that would be supportable in the future. Many of us in the Mac community could see that this was the direction Apple was moving, and now we finally have confirmation.

What does all of that mean? In theory it means that Apple Silicon Macs cannot boot at all if the internal storage fails. Lacking a Mac whose internal storage I was willing to damage to prove this, I contacted the authoritative experts within Apple in April and they unambiguously confirmed that that is the actual result – you can’t boot an Apple Silicon Mac if the internal storage has died.

All of which leads me to conclude the bootable backups are no longer going to be a part of my backup routine. :astonished:

As someone who has prided himself on his comprehensive backup system, it pains me a bit to give up something I considered to be one of the main pillars of that system, but if I can’t boot a “dead” Mac from a bootable backup anyway, there’s no real point in having one. :man_shrugging:

:rotating_light: However, I think this news has to be worst for people with only one Mac. Previously I would have had a bootable backup drive in case I woke up one morning and my Mac wouldn’t boot. If that happens now, I could use one of my older Macs to get by. But if you aren’t able to have an entirely separate computer… that’s a scary thought.

Further Reading

Back in February, Adam Engst wrote The Role of Bootable Duplicates in a Modern Backup Strategy at TidBITS which I also recommend, and he concluded with this:

…I’ll stick with my nightly duplicates because they’re just too useful for troubleshooting and recovery. But I can’t say that bootable duplicates are the necessity they once were.

Adam is smart, experienced, and insightful. At the time I first read that article, I wondered if it was trying to convince himself (and others) of the seemingly inevitable, that is, to convince himself he didn’t need bootable backups because Apple was basically taking them away anyway. But, re-reading the article now, alongside the CCC blog post, I see that Adam was saying then many of the same things Mike is saying now.

I’m no slouch, but Mike and Adam are both smarter than me. I will be taking their advice.


I can think of one analogy here.

At one point, my car battery died. It died to the point that I could no longer even jump start the car. I had to replace the battery.

When this problem would have meant that I would have had to pay a tow truck to take the car back to the dealership to have them replace the car battery … I would have been royally upset (to put it mildly).

That we cannot boot from an external hard drive … OK. But, when we are stuck with no option for a dead internal hard drive but to return the computer to the dealership (an Apple Certified Service Rep) … I would think that we some folks might be royally upset.

This news gives less allure to consider Apple Silicon for my needs. Fortunately, I expect my i9 MBP to last a rather long time.



Even then, however, you would expect they could do it the same day.

Now imagine that you went to turn on your car, and couldn’t, and it would be a minimum of 3 days before you could use it again because that’s how long it took to get serviced?

Yes, but your car battery doesn’t contain the software you need to make a living. (I assume your data are backed up somewhere.)

I suppose this situation with Silicon Macs is no different than with iPads. There is no booting an iPad from an external drive. At least with iPads there is a path to recover all apps from the App Store (i.e., a single source) and all data from iCloud backups.

Rant Warning………
Help me understand this. I’ve been watching these developments intently…since buying the M1 MacMini. So let me ask a rhetorical question. The GENIUS’ at Apple have designed a computer that when the internal hard drive fails (the one that can’t be replaced) AND NOW (for security?) can’t be booted from an external hard drive that I (the Owner) created!

Am I missing something here?

Apple wants you to be fully dependent on… Apple. :angry:

nope. you are experiencing the creepy control of computers that people (like me) have been raging about for years… Apple will run off people who want real control of the computers and be left with people who think iPhone-level control on their computers is just dandy.

trading freedom for security… didn’t you watch Episode III?

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Yes. I see the new marketing slogan in this.

The new Apple Silicon Mac. Just like an iPad. Only more expensive. And without the pencil.


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Yup, they’ve been going in that direction for years. You can’t upgrade the HDD/SSD, the RAM, the GPU, the CPU. But… the vast majority of Apple customers, in fact the vast majority of the entire “computer” market, wouldn’t ever do any of that anyway.

I’ve seen the same arguments about cars… at least I did many years ago… where there are so many electronics in the things that no-one can fix their own car any more. And yet… the car market remains enormous and everyone just takes their car to the mechanics regularly or when needed. Speaking of which, the battery dying is perhaps not a fair comparison to a hard drive dying. There are plenty of things on a car that can break that will take longer to fix. Heck, my son had to get a dent sorted after someone reversed into his car and he had to leave it with the repairers for 3 business days that spanned a long weekend. Oh, and how many people fix or upgrade their Teslas?

The one thing I believe Apple should do is treat Macs like iPhones when it comes time to repair. How many stories have we heard about people taking their dodgy iPhone in to Apple and being given a new one on the spot? Not that I’ve ever had that experience in a country with zero Apple Stores, but that seems like it would be the answer.

But, you can still DRIVE the car with plenty of (such) things.

The battery analogy might be better stated this way. My car battery starts to die. I can no longer plug in a battery charger. I cannot even remove the battery to replace it. I have to have it serviced by the original dealer.

This mantra fuels the belief in the paradigm of design for immediate obsolescence rather than sustainable design.

I don’t happen to have the level of disposal income to afford the former for computers or cars. And I don’t believe that my grandchildren should have to reap the trash heap from me not being able to follow the latter for something as simple as a dead battery that requires trips to the original dealer to have serviced.



Every system is about trade offs. Consolidating components down to a system on a chip gives us faster, cooler, and quieter machines, but at the expense of serviceability of the individual parts.

That the drives can no longer be easily replaced is regrettable, but they are also faster and hold more than they used to. That we can’t boot from an external backup is not great either, but again, look at what we get out of the M1 Macs. Maybe it’s personally worth the trade off, maybe not.

That being said, sometimes they go too far. I wish we could keep things more serviceable and fixable.


I think this argument is disingenuous. Macs are well known for outlasting PCs. There’s a 2007 iMac upstairs running Ubuntu, and a 2015 iMac which can (and at some point will) run Big Sur. If you’re replacing all of the innards of your computers, where do the old innards go? On the same trash heap?

I get the argument for being able to custom build a Mac, and even for being able to incrementally upgrade it, I really do, even if I (and most people) would probably never bother doing it myself. But Apple literally will take your old gear back and refurbish or recycle it, so the trash heap argument doesn’t cut it.


Good point. Not all of us (just like yourself) are living in metropolitan areas in the USA with Apple stores just around the corner. In my neck of the woods we have exactly 2 official Apple stores. None of them at a convenient place for me. And I’m not sure what level of service they even provide, other than selling iStuff.

I do have several car dealerships in my area though. All of them with in-house capable mechanics, And on-site service on top of that.

You’re missing the point. It’s not about replaceability, it’s about (at least temporarily) using an external disk to boot your Mac.

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  1. And the next release of what ever you bought will be faster. So what? Prior to the M1 and Mac Sur any idiot (like me) could buy a new fastest, biggest bomber, use their Cloner app (you purchased Five years ago for $20) and have a ‘new’ screamer, until it didn’t update to the latest OS, and

  2. NOW, with a Mac M1 and the HD craps you can’t replace it AND you can’t boot from an external drive with a ‘crapped’ internal HD because of Apple’s security IMPROVEMENTS!

Go Apple!

I appreciate the information here; very helpful.

Apple’s products have nearly always been optimizing for an experience that leaves some negative tradeoffs for the technically-inclined. This is just one more example, but it should be taken in context for what it is providing. The power/price ratio for the M1 devices are a leap forward for general computing. Whether they could have provided a way to meet their security and performance goals while allowing for bootable backups is one of those tradeoffs that is hard, if not impossible, to accurately judge. Voicing concerns to Apple so they get customer feedback is productive for sure.

But now with awareness, one can look into options for their own situation. For example, there are Apple-certified technicians that may offer a loaner program if your computing needs make it critical that you have a device available. I did not see that Apple has the loaner program they have for iPhones available for Macs. Another example is having a backup Mac (clearly more expensive and possibly not financially viable for some/many). Another is to look into using a credit card to purchase a mac to use while one is being repaired and then return it if needed. A good backup strategy will facilitate all of these options, even if a bootable backup is not an option. It would be nice to collect ideas here so that others can know their options when they get into a computing emergency.

I would much prefer that they didn’t change things so that bootable backups were available. And I hope they can change it. I look forward to the clever ideas of the MPU community to work around this or provide great alternatives.

All good questions but all irrelevant since the latest MacOS release again ‘allows’ bootable external HD’s, but for how long is now the question.


I know this is common practice in the USA, and perhaps in other countries too, but I’m very much against this “abuse” of consumer rights. Eventually all these ‘needless’ returns do have an impact on the price of products. And not for the better. Apart from that, buying is not renting. Of course, these are just personal opinions.


Since Apple took care to reinstate that, I’d say they intend to maintain it.

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From your lips to God’s (Cook’s) ear!

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