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Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.3 Review - Backup Software for the Mac

Backup, Archive, and Clone, All in One Simple Tool

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Carbon Copy Cloner from Bombich Software has been a favorite backup utility of the Mac community for many years. Carbon Copy Cloner has won our annual Readers' Choice Awards for two years running, and it will certainly be a major contender for a third straight year.

Carbon Copy Cloner is now up to version 3.4.3, and has an elegant user interface that is easy to use.

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.3 - Pros

  • Clean user interface with easy-to-understand settings.

  • Back up to and from network drives.

  • Create bootable clones.

  • Archive features ensure data is not lost.

  • Block-level clone creation available.

  • Incremental backups.

  • Free.

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.3 - Cons

  • Some error messages are cryptic.

  • No time estimate given for backups.

  • Embedded ads.

Specifications

  • OS X 10.4.8 or higher (Lion compatible).
  • Intel or PowerPC Mac.
  • HFS+ formatted drive required for bootable clones.

Review - Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.3

Backing up your Mac's data is a high-priority task, one you should perform on a regular basis.

Carbon Copy Cloner provides just about all the backup capabilities you need for your Mac. It can perform full and incremental backups, create bootable clones of your startup drive, sync files, and schedule backups. It also has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

You may wonder why you even need another backup app, since Apple includes Time Machine with every Mac. Time Machine is a great backup app, one I use every day, but Carbon Copy Cloner can do a few things that Time Machine can't; the most important is create a bootable copy of a startup drive. With just a few selections from Carbon Copy Cloner's user interface, you can make a complete, bootable copy of your startup drive. If something goes wrong, you can boot from the clone and get right back to business.

Carbon Copy Cloner can also perform incremental updates to the clone, which vastly reduces the time it takes to keep the clone up to date.

Scheduling

Carbon Copy Cloner has a built-in scheduling system, so you can easily configure repetitive tasks to occur when you wish. For instance, I like to keep my bootable clone up to date by scheduling the task to occur once a week; you may wish to clone more or less frequently. Carbon Copy Cloner also lets you run scripts before and after copying occurs, as well as put your Mac to sleep, restart it, shut it down, or do nothing after the copying is done.

While the ability to specify scripts is handy, it's not always the best way for non-technical Mac users to control what Carbon Copy Cloner does before and after it makes a copy. I'd like to see the developer include additional basic capabilities for users to choose from; in particular, I'd like to be able to set the copy function to be initiated by an event, such as shutting my Mac down for the day.

Interface

Carbon Copy Cloner's user interface is straightforward and easy to understand and use, yet it provides a great deal of information to the user. You start by using two drop-down menus to select source and destination drives for the copy, and then select the type of copy to perform. Additional options, including scheduling, customizing settings, and accessing advanced settings, are all available with a few clicks.

The other main feature of the user interface is a large scrolling list of the items that will be copied. When you select a source from the drop-down menu, the root level of the drive displays its files and folders. You can navigate through the list and uncheck a box if you wish to exclude an item from the backup. For example, I don't wish to have my Parallels or VMWare Fusion virtual drives backed up. They are large and can add a great deal of time to the backup, so I prefer to back them up separately.

The one issue I did find with the "Items to be Copied" list, is that when I select my startup drive, the list includes a network drive I have mounted on the desktop. I have to manually deselect the network drive's checkbox to ensure that it doesn't get copied. I can write a script that will unmount all network drives first, but this is a good example of why I'd like to see more canned routines available in the scheduling options for functions to perform before or after a copy is created.

Final Thoughts

Carbon Copy Cloner has been one of the go-to Mac backup applications for such a long time that I honestly can't remember when I first came across it. It definitely belongs in every Mac user's utility tool belt.

Carbon Copy Cloner developer Mike Bombich provides this backup utility free to Mac users, but I heartily suggest making a donation to support Mike if you decide this is the backup app for you.

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