How to Copy My Mac to Another Hard Drive


Copying, or “cloning” your Mac’s hard drive on an external hard drive is one of the best ways to back up your computer. This complete copy is a “bootable” copy; if a problem occurs in your computer, this copy can be installed and will run in exactly the same way as the original. To be able to boot from the external drive, the drive must be a Firewire drive. If a Firewire drive is not available, the copy can be stored on a USB drive, but it would need to be copied to a Firewire drive in order for a computer to boot from it.

Things You'll Need

  • External hard drive (Firewire or USB)
  • Obtain a backup creation program for Mac such as SuperDuper.

  • Install the backup creation program on your computer and double-click on the icon in the Applications folder.

  • Plug the Firewire or USB hard drive into your Mac.

  • Format the external drive for use as a Mac backup. Open “Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.” Select the external drive from the menu on the left-hand side of the window. Choose the “Erase” tab. Verify that the Volume Format is set to “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)," and name the drive. Press the “Erase” button to format the drive. Quit Disk Utility.

  • Go to the backup creation program and select the drive you would like to copy from the window. This will be your main computer hard drive. Select the external hard drive where you want the copy to be saved. Choose the type of backup copy you want to make. For a full, bootable copy, choose “All Files.”

  • Press “Copy Now” to begin the process of copying your Mac to the external drive. Alternatively, you can press “Schedule” to pick a time for the backup to take place when the computer will not be in use.

Tips & Warnings

  • Copying your Mac to another hard drive takes longer the first time you do it. Subsequent backups can be made using “Smart Update,” which only changes those files that have been updated since your last backup. This cuts down the copying time considerably.

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  • Photo Credit Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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