It’s a Trip to the Moon, Not a Marathon Monday, October 25, 2021

tl;dr

At long last, v3.5 is out, with

  • Big Sur and Monterey Bootable Backups
  • Support for macOS 10.10 and later
  • Apple silicon support
  • Various fixes and improvements (see the Revision History in the Help menu)


Under Big Sur and later, the OS is only copied if you use Erase, then copy. Everything else is updated when you use Smart Update later, of course. The What's going to happen? section will tell you what's going on.

Users on Apple silicon systems with older (pre-2019 or so) licenses will need to either purchase a new license or run under Rosetta.

Auto-update now available, or

Download SuperDuper! v3.5

Long, Strange Trip

If you're interested, the history of this version is documented in detail in earlier blog posts over the last year or so. It's taken longer than we'd hoped, but through the various Beta releases we've got a lot of testing miles under our belts, and we're pretty pleased with the way it came out.

There remain some challenges, of course. Bootable backups under macOS 11 (Big Sur) and later are a bit strange, because they don't show up immediately in the Startup Disk Preference Pane. You'll find they do show up in either Option+Boot (Intel) or Power+Boot (Apple silicon) boot menus, though. And once authorized, they boot nicely.

General Process

So, what's the process for making an initial bootable backup under Big Sur and later?

  1. First, the destination has to be formatted as APFS. To do a nice, full format, you should:
    • Open Disk Utility
    • Choose "Show All Devices" from the View menu
    • Select the destination drive hardware (above the existing volume)
    • Click Erase
    • Choose the "GUID" partition scheme (2nd pop-up), THEN "APFS" formatting (1st pop-up) and name appropriately
    • Click Erase
  2. Then, make an initial Erase, then copy backup. Erase, then copy is selected in Options under During copy.
  3. That's it!
  4. No, really, that's it.

And Then What?

To maintain your backup, use "Backup - all files" with Smart Update (again, in Options under During copy). That will update all "your stuff" (that is, everything except the operating system), and things should still boot normally even if the OS is updated.

When you want to update the version of macOS on the backup, you can make an Erase, then copy backup again, as above.

Does My Backup Have to be Bootable?

It does not. If you start with a fresh drive or APFS volume, as above, a "Backup - all files" with Smart Update will only copy "your stuff" (that is, the macOS "Data" volume).

This can still be restored via migration after a clean OS install, of course...nothing is missing save for the OS, and you can download that any time.

What About Encryption?

A bootable backup cannot start out encrypted, due to macOS rules about creating volume groups. So, after you create a bootable backup, start up from it, turn on FileVault (you don't have to wait for it to finish), then boot back to your regular drive.

Ensure the password is added to the keychain when prompted, and that's all there is to it. Subsequent Smart Updates will maintain the encryption.

Regulations Require My Data To Always Be Encrypted

No problem. While you can't have a bootable backup without the brief gap between backing up and encrypting, a non-bootable backup, as above, can start with a volume formatted encrypted. Just use "Backup - all files" with Smart Update.

Anything Else I Need to Know?

If you get a "Resource Busy" error during an Erase, then copy error under Big Sur and later, it's likely your Mac fell asleep during the copy, even though we asked it to stay awake. You can usually fix this by installing Coca from the App Store (it's free!) and using it to keep the Mac awake during this process.

You may notice that, if an Erase, then copy backup fails under Big Sur and later, the backup drive has been renamed to the name of the source drive.

This is because those backups are done with asr, a system tool that does a low-level replication of the drive. Along with the data comes the drive name. After a successful copy, we rename the drive to its original name, but if asr fails, the drive never gets renamed. Fully erasing, as above, will fix it.

Nap Time

So, that's about it, save for whatever I've neglected to mention! Thanks for your patience as we worked through this release - your support and encouragement is sincerely appreciated. Not much left, except to

Download SuperDuper v3.5

Tweaking Sunday, October 24, 2021

tl;dr - new beta release (B5) now available. Very minor changes, including additional prompts for old licenses on Apple silicon. Download away.

Download SuperDuper! v3.5 B5

Signposting

So, B4's rollout went well, with only a few people accusing us of trying to "put one over" on people by invalidating licenses.

Honestly, that wasn't the intent. If we wanted to invalidate licenses and force people to buy new ones, we would have just done so.

Unfortunately, those users didn't read the post that explained the situation, and so we've added another notification about old license use at startup. Hopefully that'll help guide people either to Rosetta or a new license with less mystery and intrigue.

Disk...full?

Somehow, one of the sections of the What's going to happen? section that pointed out when a source might not fit on the destination seemed to be missing.

After an investigation, including combing the beaches to see if it had just headed to a vacation without telling us, we figured out the problem.

Under Catalina and Big Sur, the check of a volume group's size returns the wrong value - it only gives the value of the system volume (which is typically 15GB or so) rather than the whole group (which is System + Data + Preboot + Recovery, etc).

Apple fixed this under Monterey, and so under Monterey and later, the warning will appear as expected.

Emulation

We found another weird problem where the system wasn't always paying attention to the "Use Rosetta" setting the user selected.

As such, under Rosetta, scheduled copies would fail in some cases, because when SuperDuper! was launched to do the copy, it wouldn't use emulation, and thus old serial numbers (see above) would fail to validate.

We now override the behavior to force emulation, on schedules, for users with old serial numbers. And, of course, if you want to run natively, and have an old, pre-2019 license, you can simply purchase a new license.

Wrapping up

That's really about it for this release. We're anticipating the release version quite soon, so speak now...and thanks to everyone who used the Beta versions and sent in feedback!

Download SuperDuper! v3.5 B5

Native Apple Silicon, Big Sur & Monterey Sunday, October 17, 2021

Executive Summary

v3.5 B4 is now out, is fully Apple silicon native, and produces bootable backups for both Big Sur and Monterey. It will be offered as an automatic update for existing v3.5 Beta users, or you can download it here.

Download SuperDuper! v3.5 B4

Windier Version with Details

So far, the Beta has been going great. SuperDuper itself has been performing well, and the only real issues have, as expected, been with Apple's asr tool, which remains a black box that occasionally fails and spits out obscure errors.

Part of rolling these Betas slowly involves trying to figure out how to help users when these failures happen: basically, it's a learning process, and when we can't refer to the code, and the errors are (at best) a number and a word or two, well, it takes some time.

At this point, though, I'm relatively confident I understand how to work around most of asr's failures.

Architectural History

Years ago, when we released v3.2.5, we announced that our old e-commerce provider, eSellerate, had shut down, and they took their license recovery site with them...along with the ability to generate new serial numbers.

Despite asking quite a few times, they were unwilling to provide us with the code necessary to generate or validate eSellerate serial numbers, beyond what we already had, which was an SDK library developed for Power PC and Intel.

You'll note one significant missing chip family there.

And no, it's not 68K.

At that point, we moved to Paddle and our own licenses, which has gone well, but with the upcoming release of v3.5, we found ourselves in an interesting situation: if we wanted to release an Apple silicon-native version of SuperDuper!, we couldn't include the eSellerate license validation, since it doesn't natively support Apple silicon.

This Sounds Ominous

It'll be OK.

Here's what it means: native Apple silicon execution require new-style licenses purchased after June of 2019, when our new license system was released. Old licenses will not work natively... and if you want to run natively on an Apple silicon Mac with registered features, you'll need a new license.

What Do You Mean by "Natively"?

This does not mean you have to buy a new license! If you run with Rosetta 2 (that is, Intel emulation, set in Get Info in Finder), your existing license will work fine. All the same features are available.

But if you want the additional speed of Apple silicon (and want to future-proof yourself should Apple remove Rosetta 2 the way they removed Rosetta), or think, maybe, it's been a while since you registered, you'll want to purchase a new license.

So, Native Apple Silicon Support?

Yes!

What that all means is that this version now fully supports Apple silicon on Macs with those chips. Not much to say about that, other than we took our time and carefully tested to make sure things worked as expected, given the new chip architecture.

And they do.

Monterey Support

This version also supports Monterey, as of the current Beta release (Beta 10). It seems likely that's close to, if not the actual release version of Monterey, which I expect next week sometime, given recent announcements. They don't tell us in advance, though, so things might change.

Data-Only Encryption Support

Previous Beta versions of v3.5 didn't support encrypted data volumes, due to some tests that were required in previous OS releases. We now support pre-encrypted volumes for Data Volume Only copies (that is, copies of your stuff, with no OS, achieved with Smart Update).

Additional Improvements

We've made some changes to various bits and pieces to try to make operation under Big Sur and Monterey clearer and even more reliable.

One thing I didn't expect to be a problem is that, under Big Sur, SuperDuper doesn't explicitly say it's making the backup bootable.

This has confused people, because they think that if it didn't say it was making the backup bootable, then, well, it's not.

But it is.

Here's the deal. The asr tool, mentioned above, actually performs the bless task that makes the backup bootable. Since it was already done, we changed the wording of the "bootable" step to say it was "finalizing" the backup, since we weren't actually making it bootable any more, and I thought it was better to be accurate.

But, given the confusion, I think inaccurate-but-reassuring is a better approach.

In Sum

It's a long time coming, I know, but the final release is in sight. The feedback on the Beta versions has been almost entirely positive, and that's encouraging. So, enjoy, and let me know if you have any problems.

Download SuperDuper! v3.5 B4

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