Mac backup suggestions

Hi MPU-ers, I’m a fairly new Mac user and looking for suggestions to back up my laptop. It’s a 256 GB machine, and I’m only using half of it. I mostly use the cloud for data storage. However, I have an amazing setup (thanks to you’ll and MPU) and want to retain it in case my machine crashes since it has taken me a while to set it up and don’t want to re-do it. Here’s what I need help on:

  1. Should I use time machine to back up my laptop? (I don’t intend to save real data in the backup either way. Will rely on cloud for that, but open to suggestions)
    1.1 If yes, should I use a normal hard disk (SATA) or SSD? Capacity suggestions
  2. Should I also create a bootable backup on a second hard disk?
  3. Also heard about Carbon Copy Cloner but couldn’t figure out what it exactly does. Bootable creation or is it a time machine replacement or something else.
  4. Any other suggestions

PS: I know a bunch of you love backblaze, but I don’t want to spend money on subscriptions for this. :slight_smile:

Time Machine is great, and a spinning, non-SSD drive is fine for this purpose, as long as you can be patient with the first backup.

Having a bootable backup on a third disk is a luxury that saves time, but isn’t totally necessary. SuperDuper is also good for this purpose.


Seconding @Kevin_Newman, use TimeMachine. Already available on your Mac. Yes, first time backup will take longer than the subsequent ones, but that’s the point of the whole thing–to get a version onto another device and then go incremental from there.

I suggest a USB drive. As it’s disconnectable, be sure to “eject” it before unplugging. MacOS is picky about that.

Also, once the initial backup done, try it out to restore some files to see how it works. Best to do this before it’s an “emergency”.


Hi there,

Like you, I’m a bit of a newbie, but I found this article helpful so I just thought I’d share it:


Best wishes and good luck.



Does this have to be an SSD?

FWIW, I always follow the 3-2-1 backup strategy which looks like this:

  • Time Machine backup
  • Bootable backup on another SSD drive using Carbon Copy Cloner
  • Off-site backup using Backblaze

If you don’t want to pay for a subscription, an alternative you might consider is storing an encrypted backup with someone you trust. That way if the worst case scenario happens like a fire, you still have a backup of your data.


Hi @andy4222 and welcome to Mac.

For backups, the more layers you can build the better, especially if you consider any of the data irreplaceable.

  1. Time machine is an excellent place to start, relatively cheap for a spinning disk (I would recommend you buy a 1TB usb C drive) and easy to setup
  2. if you want to go further, my next step would be Backblaze for online backup. This is different from using iCloud to sync and store your data and costs $7 a month (annual plans are available) this means that no matter where you are or what happens, you can access your data both for a large restore, or just to download a single file
  3. superduper or Carbon Copy Cloner will take a copy of your drive in your computer and can make it bootable. Either spinning or SSD is fine with cost and speed being the differentiator( SSF is more expensive but quicker) but the disk just needs to be at least the same size as your internal SSD. With SD or CCC you can also make multiple copies so you could backup before a significant upgrade and put that copy in a drawer.

The final point is that Disks will fail, hence my advice to have multiple copies and backup methods, so it’s worth testing your backups from time to time and also worth budgeting to replace your drives every 2-4 years.

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Does carbon copy cloner store in an encrypted format? Also, how about time machine.

Storing somewhere else is definitely a great idea


my HD is 256 GB. Won’t 500 GB suffice? Or does time machine keep storing snapshot at regular intervals? Can the backup size be more than the size of the actual data on my disk

What’s the point of CCC or SD it is there’s time machine already? Let’s say I time machine the backup to two disks? Doesn’t that create redundancy…or time machine only backups to one disk?

For CCC or SD, doesn’t the disk need tobe 2-3x in case I plan to save multiple clones of the disk? Also, with spinning being slow, is the point to restore the clone back to my mac’s HD and make it running again?

Sorry for so many questions

Double size is recommended. Can be more if you want. Just means it will keep data longer before recycling. I use double size.

Some people dislike or are unable to make TimeMachine to work. I can’t see the point, frankly. These other products I’m sure are very good, but I don’t feel I need.

FYI, my backup setup, all running automatically without me doing very much. I test restore about 2-3 times a year.

for three Mac’s (1 iMac and 2 Macbooks):

  • TimeMachine to two connected USB drives and Synology NAS on local network. Normally only one USB connected at a time; the other in the garage. Swap when I think of it (couple of times a month)
  • Synology backup of VERY IMPORTANT STUFF to Synology home folder
  • Backblaze backup on iMac (which I consider the “core” machine with everything anyway.

for the Synology NAS:

  • Synology Hyperbackup to a very big (and least expensive I could find) USB drive
  • BackBlaze B2 via Synology Cloud Sync

Redundancy is always good when you are unwilling to lose your data under any circumstances.

Time Machine is a great program. Easy to use and can work on its own without a lot of attention. It has helped me out many times.

Time Machine works great until it doesn’t and I’ve had it fail me a couple of times. Which is why I also make weekly backups using Carbon Copy Cloner.


I use CCC for nightly backups to an external SSD. It has the considerable advantage that, if you’re not using the external SSD for anything other than the CCC backups, you can use quick update in CCC which makes for extremely fast backups. I’ve been using that feature for many weeks now and have had no problem with it.


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Good article with one fundamental omission…

It doesn’t list network availabillity and server reachability as a con for the online options. That leads to the false conclusion you’re always connected, your network is operating at sufficient speeds, and servers are always reachable. i.e., The Myth of Network Persistence.

Online backups are useful but you also can’t ignore or be unaware of those variables.

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The bigger the better for Time Machine. It means that it can store more historical versions, and retain deleted info for longer. You could use an 8TB drive for a 256gb internal, it would just give you more options for restore and longer retentions. TM backs up any changed files (not the whole disk) on an hourly basis, and then retains for a sliding scale hourly for the first 24 hours, daily for the next month, then weekly and then monthly.

CCC AND SD clone your drive, I.e. a direct copy of that drive at that time the backup runs. I’m unsure whether you can have multiple images on the same drive, but a failure of that drive could lose all images if you can, so probably better not to.

Questions are fine. :grinning:

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I’ve used Time Machine for years and we also advocate it since it’s free, built-in, and simple to use. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect but it’s generally very good and absolutely better than no backups at all. (Don’t get me started! :wink: )

That being said, I’m about to pony up for Carbon Copy Cloner as I used it this weekend to archive a 95GB and a 35GB user acccount. Simple to use UI with more advanced functions available. And impressively fast.

Plus… backups are what Bombich and company do! If you want to really nerd out, check out their FAQ, support, etc. If anyone knowns backups inside and out, I’d say it’s these people :heart: :slight_smile:


I’m technically unsure as well as I’m just now using CCC, but partitioning a larger drive for each machine you’re backing up would likely work.

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This is a very well written book that might help [Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac(


This CCC knowledgebase article is helpful in the context.

I certainly agree with that. The knowledgebase is a mine of information.

I’ve used CCC for years and am sure you won’t be disappointed with it.



It will work but as @geoffaire pointed out it’s not really a great idea. Drives are cheap compared to losing your data and/or backups.

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