The “Roll Up Some Fixes” Release! Sunday, March 13, 2022

Things have been relatively quiet here at the blog, but not because I've just been enjoying listening to records.

Rather, we've been working on a series of fixes that we're releasing today as SuperDuper v3.6.

This release is especially important for Apple silicon users. macOS 12.3 will break SuperDuper! v3.5 due to problems with asr (Apple Software Restore), the tool that must be used to copy the OS, and we've worked around that issue in our new update.

I'm Sure I've Used #blessed Before

On Big Sur and later, as I've written before, asr must be used to produce a bootable copy. We can update everything but the OS with Smart Update, but if the OS needs to be copied, we need to use asr to do it.

As part of its operation, asr blesses the copy. That basically means it does the final steps necessary to set the drive up for boot.

Under Big Sur and later, however, that's not sufficient: the copy has to be authorized for boot, which is done either with the Startup Disk Preference Pane (if it appears there, which it sometimes doesn't) or via the "boot choice" menu at start (which is accessed during startup via Option on Intel Macs, or by holding down Power on Apple Silicon Macs).

On macOS 12.3, a change in bless breaks asr, and it returns an error, which causes SuperDuper! v3.5 to fail the copy. (At this point, everything's been copied, and no data will be lost, but a scary red bar appears, often followed by a change of underwear, a support email, and a request for dry cleaning reimbursement.)

We've changed SuperDuper! to work around this problem, and as long as you've updated to v3.6, things should work fine.

Better, Even!

But that's not all. We've also improved performance, especially when cleaning up folders with fewer files in them during Smart Update; updated our handling of "Cloud" files on Monterey; fixed a crash with new-style serial numbers on macOS versions before 10.14; worked around some security prompts when running from non-Admin accounts...a list of all the updates is in the release notes, as usual.

Status Report

As I'm sure you've noticed, the status bar in an active phase is, well, blue-on-blue. Over the years, Apple has changed both the size and color of their progress bar control so that it's become closer and closer to our color.

When the window is active, that means there's minimal contrast. When inactive, though, it's quite visible...which I often joke is a subtle hint to not watch the pot boil.

We didn't want to create our own control here, since we'd constantly be chasing Apple's visual updates. In the past we've tried applying a hue filter to the control, but that caused some older Macs to crash, and since we support the OS a long way back, and a lot of old Macs, that proved to be unworkable.

And yes, we could change our bar color, but since Apple keeps changing their color, that isn't a good choice either.

All is not lost, though. You can change the color to suit your taste: in System Preferences's General section, the Highlight or Accent selection changes the control color. So, if it bothers you, there you go—go crazy and choose a bar color of your own!

Wake Up!

As I wrote before, 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 (and even if it looks like it didn't). 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. Ensure you "Activate" it using its menu extra.

Wrap Up

We've been quite happy with the way SuperDuper! v3.5 has been working in the field, with lots of good feedback, and this version should take care of the few issues we've found.

Thanks to everyone who's using it, and who has written in. Until next time, back to the code mines (which I think is a Pretenders song)!

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


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.

My Backup Isn't in Startup Disk Preferences!

Often the backup won't show up in the Startup Disk Preference pane. That's OK! As mentioned in a previous post, you should use Option+Boot (on an Intel Mac) or Power+Boot (on an Apple silicon Mac), and it should show up there.

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


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.


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.


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?


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

Like Riding a Bike Wednesday, May 05, 2021

You know it's been a while since you last released a Beta when you don't quite remember the rhythms of the process.

But, it doesn't take long for muscle memory to kick in... and I'm happy to say that it's going really well. A lot of that is due to you: thanks for your support, encouragement and reports of both success and, occasionally, failure.

To deal with the latter (and celebrate the former), here's v3.5 B2.

A few things to mention as we continue this process:

  • Make sure you have "Check for Updates" turned on in our Preferences. You may have turned it off if you were using the v3.2.5 workaround: it's time to turn it on again, since that's how you'll get Beta updates.
  • Some users were confused by the macOS 11.4 Beta requirements. 11.4 is only required for M1 Macs. Intel Macs work fine with SuperDuper under all versions of Big Sur.
  • Startup volumes will often not show up in the Startup Disk Preference Pane in System Preferences under Big Sur. This does not mean the drive isn't bootable—it's a weird bug in Big Sur.

    To start up from the backup, use Option+Power On on an Intel Mac, or hold down the Power button when powering on with an M1 Mac.

    If you do this, you'll note that the Mac's regular drive doesn't appear in the startup disk preference pane...but the backup drive does! It's weird. But the backup is OK! You can breathe!

  • If you only made a Smart Update, and didn't start with an Erase, then copy backup, you'll note that your backup drive seems "empty". That's because you're looking at the "empty" System volume...and the Data volume is mounted by the OS as "no browse"—basically, it doesn't show up readily in Finder.

    It's still there, though. Use Finder's Go To Folder, in the Go Menu, to open /Volumes and you'll see your Data volume.

    For less stress—and who doesn't want less stress?—start with an Erase, then copy backup.

  • We've actually figured out how to get at least a little useful information out of the weird errors system tools produce:

For Beta 2 we've addressed a few things and polished some others: it's a relatively minor update. Details are in the Revision History, but to highlight a few things:

  • Backup on Connect no longer runs over and over if you use Erase, then copy on Big Sur. This had to do with some very low-level changes to some Big Sur APIs that messed with our code that detected whether we were already running a copy for that volume.

    The bug was useful for testing a zillion back-to-back Erase, then copies, though, so there's that. Yeah! We meant to do that! Sure!

  • Erase, then copy was using asr to copy Catalina, which was unintentional. It now does the same thing v3.3.1 did.
  • Send to Shirt Pocket was failing for users in all versions of SuperDuper due to an locally cached response of a value that had been updated on our server. This turned out to be rather interesting, and frustrating, because we don't have a way of "fixing" old copies...although they will "fix themselves" over time...anyway, it won't happen any more in v3.5 B2 and later.

That'll about do it. Enjoy the new version, and thanks for the emails and tweets!

Download SuperDuper! v3.5 B2

Thanks, again, for using SuperDuper...we look forward to your comments.

Finally. Thursday, April 29, 2021

Sound the trumpets!

We're happy (and, frankly, relieved) to announce the immediate availability of SuperDuper v3.5 Beta 1: our first version to fully support Big Sur backups.

That's right: bootable Big Sur backups for Intel and M1. Today!

Shut Up and Give Me My Download

For those who aren't interested in reading about this stuff (you really should), you can download SuperDuper v3.5 B1 from here.

Note If you're on an M1 Mac, you will not be able to boot from a SuperDuper backup unless you are running macOS 11.4 or later. The new macOS version is in beta, and you can get it here: macOS 11.4 Public Beta. (The usual caveats about running a beta OS apply.)

As you might expect, you can't boot an M1 Mac from an Intel Backup or vice versa. You can still restore, though, using Apple's "first boot" restore process, or by using Migration Assistant.

When starting off with the v3.5 beta, you must first make an erase-then-copy backup. On success, you can switch to Smart Update.

Finally, we know Big Sur Erase, then copy image backups don't work yet—Smart Updates work fine—but we wanted to get this out to those of you who have been patiently waiting. Remember: Beta!

As is always the case with our Betas, this version will automatically update to future Beta versions of v3.5 (assuming our update check is on in Preferences) until the final v3.5 is released. At that point, it will install the release version and move to the regular update check.

Let's Hear What He Has to Say!

(Have those folks in a rush gone? OK, good. For the rest of you, here's the deal.)

As we've been saying for some time, release of our Big Sur version had been gated on factors not fully in our control.

For security reasons, Big Sur forced the use of Apple Software Restore, or asr, for backups that contain a System volume (that is, any startup volume).

Until recently, asr didn't work properly with M1 Macs. It would copy the System volume, then throw various errors, including one indicating that the "source volume format was not yet supported".

Of course, the "source volume format" was APFS, something it clearly did support, so this was weird. Clearly they meant something else, like the various new support volumes the M1 Macs use.

But given that asr wouldn't run at all, there wasn't much point trying to copy the System volume. So we decided to wait, thinking that a fix would be just around the corner.

Which, needless to say, it wasn't. Or it was, but given that blocks are longer in San Francisco than they are around here (and, frankly, Apple had its hands full with a bunch of new Macs, iPads and the like), the fix took much longer than expected. So we needed to do something.

Since copying the Data volume was the only thing that worked, and was still fully restorable, we released a workaround while we waited.

This had two major advantages. First, we didn't need to fully test and beta a new version that half worked, sometimes, with caveats...something we were loath to do. Instead, it made it clear it was a workaround.

Second, it meant that we didn't have to "half wrap-up" our in-progress work.

New Stuff Has Come to Light

Of course, we kept plugging away at it and, when we checked the new macOS 11.4 beta, we were happy to see the "not yet" message had gone away, which suggested "not yet" had finally become "can". Or, at least, "might".

More testing and configuring ensued and, as of late Saturday night (livin' the high life here at Shirt Pocket HQ), we were finally able to boot from a SuperDuper copy of an M1 MacBook Pro, made to a regular USB SSD, without any post-copy OS install.


As such, we can finally release a Beta that works as expected on both Intel Macs (now) and M1 Macs (assuming you have installed 11.4 Beta 1 or later).

To be clear, this is only possible because Apple made it possible in macOS 11.4. I'm certain it required changes to the M1's startup process and to asr to finally make it happen. Without those changes, we couldn't have done this in a supported way.

I'm really happy the teams involved made the effort. Thanks, folks!

The "Did I Say No Caveats?" Caveats

Remember, though, Apple is not finished. There's movement, and success, but we honestly don't know whether the final, non-beta release of 11.4 will work.

Given things are clearly changing, and heading in the right direction, we thought putting this out now would be useful.

As indicated above, you can't boot an Intel Mac from an M1 backup or vice-versa. You can, however, boot an M1 Mac from a backup of a different M1 Mac, once you've authorized it with a user on the Mac you're booting.

Regardless of processor, you can still restore using Apple's "first boot" restore process, or by using Migration Assistant. So it's not a problem to move from Intel to M1 or M1 to Intel.

Important Note asr copies at a low level and works a drive quite hard. In our internal testing, some SSDs couldn't handle the load without intermittently overheating and generating errors.

This seems to be because the controller was trying to manage freed blocks, or wear-level, while still trying to manage the flow of incoming writes.

When this happened, we started to get obscure errors from asr ("resource busy" is quite common). Allowing the device to settle and cool typically resolved the problem. I'm hoping Apple will improve its handling of this error as development continues.

We had the most success with the Angelbird SSD2GO PKT MK2, with its SSD Manager installed and the most recent Western Digital MyPassport SSD (affiliate link).

Erasing a drive from the top/hardware, rather than just erasing the volume, seems to help some drives, too.

Or you can just use Smart Update, which will only copy the Data volume. To wit...

Notes on a Revolution

With macOS releases prior to Big Sur, we could update the OS when changed, regardless of whether it was hosted on a separate System volume (as done under 10.15 and later) or on the same volume (all previous versions).

However, with Big Sur, a system update requires us to use asr to recopy the drive. And asr won't (currently?) just copy the System volume: it's all or nothing.

That's fine with an Erase, then copy backup, because you are asking for a full backup.

But with a Smart Update, fully erasing the drive when an OS changes just isn't appropriate.

So, we decided that under macOS 11 and later, a Smart Update of a "volume group"—that is, a startup volume—will only copy the Data volume, updating your applications and data but leaving the system as-is.

This gives you some interesting options:

  • You can keep your backup under an earlier version of the OS, while keeping your own files and applications up to date
  • It's now possible to restore just your applications and data into an existing OS install, whether through migration or by copying with SuperDuper
  • By updating your backup with Smart Update, and then restoring with Erase, then copy, you can roll back the OS to the version on the backup, while keeping your most recent files and applications intact

You can think of it as a modern Sandbox: you can try a new minor OS version and still roll back if you don't like it...without losing your "new" data. Pretty nice!

Have at it

So there you go. It's been a long, frustrating road, we know—believe me, we know—but we can clearly see our destination. Enjoy the new version, thank you for your patience, and we look forward to your comments and feedback.

Download SuperDuper! v3.5 B1

That’s Big SIR to You! Sunday, January 31, 2021

Hey, folks. Sorry it's been a while, but it's been a busy time. Let's start with the bad news first.

Bad news

As you know, SuperDuper 3.3.1 cannot copy a volume with Big Sur on it. We're currently blocked on some issues I don't have direct control over, and as such I don't have a new version for you that fully supports Big Sur, nor a timeframe for when that will be released.

Right now, as many of you know, v3.3.1 will work with non-boot volumes, but it won't work with volumes that have macOS on them, because it will try to do some of the things that no longer work in macOS 11.

I know that's been a disappointment, but that's where we are with v3.3.1.

Good news!

However, after wracking my brain for far too long, I've come up with a workaround that will let you make the backups you need to save your files, and to supplement your Time Machine backup. And for that, we need to go the Future!


Let me try to explain.

In Catalina, as I explain in Breaking the Tape, Apple split the startup volume into two parts: the System volume and the Data volume. We did a ton of work that year to support this new setup in a way that was transparent to the user; SuperDuper automatically creates the proper volumes, converts the drives to APFS as needed, etc.

Worked great.

In macOS 10.15.5, though, Apple broke 3rd party copy tools in a way that couldn't be worked around without the use of asr, a low-level drive copy tool that has its own issues. They fixed that in 10.15.6...but it was a rather ominous sign for the future.

That ominous sign became terrifying reality in macOS 11. Due to the new Sealed System Volume, use of asr became mandatory if you wanted to make a copy that was bootable. And even that didn't work at all until November 5th of last year—just before Big Sur's official release.

Even now, as of the time of this writing, asr won't make a bootable copy of an M1-based Mac.

So, as of Big Sur, 3rd party tools like SuperDuper can no longer make bootable copies on their own. For that, it's asr or nothing.

It is, indeed, a very sweet solution.

But, 3.3.1 doesn't know that. It tries to do all the special stuff that we had to do for Catalina, and those things no longer work. And so, as you've seen, that copy generates errors or seems to hang right at the start (because it's thrown exceptions that stop the copy).

Didn't You Say "Good News"?

I'm getting there.

SuperDuper! 3.3.1's magic was all about dealing with the split startup volume. It built on the APFS support and scheduling fixes we put into the previous version...and added new things for compatibility with Catalina.

But...what if it didn't do that? What if SuperDuper was...stupider?

Wonderfully Awful

I've been testing this out for a while in-house. and I've come up with a weird-sounding workaround!

Basically, you can use SuperDuper to copy the Data volume of the volume group. The result contains all your data and applications, can be restored in a few different ways...and can even be made bootable.

Note that, as I indicated above, M1 Macs can't readily boot from external drives. There are things you can do, if you have an external Thunderbolt 3 drive (USB-C isn't sufficient), but even that won't work if the internal drive is dead. Unless things change, bootable backups are basically a thing of the past on M1-based Macs.


It's actually easy. To accomplish this, use an old version of SuperDuper—specifically, v3.2.5—to copy the Data volume, which is shown in the older version!

v3.2.5 is well tested, having been on the market for quite some time, and is reliable. So we don't have to worry about doing a broad beta test of a partially complete new release. It's already tested, and I've been busy doing the additional testing necessary to prove it works on Big Sur.

Again, this will make a copy of the data that you need to preserve your stuff, both Applications and Data, while leaving the Sealed System Volume alone.

And it's a valid source for "restore" during a clean install or migration! So restoration is easy and fast should it become necessary.


Yeah, I wish I had thought of this earlier.

So, if you're on Big Sur, and you want to copy a startup drive, here's what to do:

  1. Make sure you have your license information handy. You can retrieve it from SuperDuper's Register... page should you need to.
  2. Download and install SuperDuper! v3.2.5 from here.
  3. Remove SuperDuper! from the "Full Disk Access" list in the Security & Privacy preference pane and restart your Mac. This is important, and works around an Apple bug triggered by the change of SuperDuper!'s bundle ID.
  4. Run SuperDuper and follow the steps to allow it Full Disk Access.
  5. If your license is missing, re-enter it from your license email.
  6. Turn off "Check for Updates" in our Preferences so we don't nag you about v3.3.1.
  7. Select the "Data" volume in the source pop-up, and a new APFS backup volume in the destination pop-up, along with "Backup - all files" (or whatever script you want). If you already have a backup volume, you can use Disk Utility to select and delete just the backup System volume, rather than create a new one. After doing this, rename the Data volume to something sensible (remove "- Data"). Note that you may need to repair it with Disk First Aid before it will show up in SuperDuper.
  8. Make your copy as normal, set up your schedule as needed, etc. Your regular Smart Updates will work as expected.

To fully restore, it's easiest to boot to recovery, erase the internal drive you want to restore to, reinstall the OS from Recovery mode, and then, when prompted to restore during the first boot of the fresh copy of macOS, point at the backup. All your data and applications will be brought in automatically.

If you want to make the backup bootable and have an Intel Mac, boot to Recovery (Cmd+R during power on) and install Big Sur to the backup drive. You can then start up from the backup. Note, though, that once made bootable, you can no longer copy to the backup until you delete the system volume as above. So don't do this unless you need to.

Forward-Looking Statements

It seems clear that the future of bootable backups is unclear.

M1 Macs can't be copied in a way that makes them bootable. Bare metal recovery on an M1 Mac isn't possible, since they depend on the contents of their internal drive even when booting externally. And the tools required to make bootable copies of Intel Macs are limited, often fail, and produce inscrutable and undocumented diagnostics when they do.

Everything's a tradeoff, and with the M1 Macs, Apple has given us an amazing new platform, while taking away some of the things that made macOS such a joy to work with. And one of those things is bootable backups.

I have no idea if this is going to change for the better in whatever the next macOS version brings, and have no insight into Apple's future plans.

But I continue to advise multiple backup strategies, including Time Machine (to an APFS volume under Big Sur), SuperDuper! (for a simple copy of your data and applications) and an online backup program (as a last resort).

With that, back to plugging away at a new version.

Thanks for reading, and for using SuperDuper.

Big Sur Wednesday, November 11, 2020

I'm going to keep this short and to the point.

It's never a good idea to update to a just-released major OS version unless you have to. Nobody knows how reliable Big Sur is going to be for regular users. Let someone else find out before you take the jump.

On our end, SuperDuper! will not be compatible with Big Sur on day of release.

As I indicated on twitter, the first time we were able to make a successful bootable copy of Big Sur at all was November 5th. As of this writing, that was six days ago.

Until that point, it wasn't possible.

So, it's going to be a while. Until then, if you must move to Big Sur, use Time Machine.

Under Construction Friday, September 04, 2020

I haven't said anything about Big Sur yet, and since the public beta has been out for a while, and I'm getting more questions about it, it's time.

At present, it's not possible to make bootable copies of Big Sur, even with asr, Apple's own built-in replication utility. As such, we haven't released a Beta, or even an internal Alpha, because it wouldn't meet our own requirements.

So, for the moment, we're holding back, hoping that Apple will fix the issues and allow 3rd party (or even 1st party, given asr) bootable backups. While asr was failing completely in previous builds, in the most recent one it isn't able to back up because the system volume isn't properly 'sealed' (which is ominous, since why wouldn't a standard install be sealed, and if it's not, why wouldn't you be able to back it up anyway).

So, while progress is being made, we're kind of stuck waiting for the king.

In the meantime, my advice for macOS Betas remains as valid as ever: do not install a macOS Beta unless you have a critical business need to do so. These Betas, even when public, are not for general use, and certainly not for anyone who wants a reliable system for day-to-day work.

If you must install it, use Time Machine for backups for now (and, given my advice in Practices Make Perfect (Backups), on a continuing basis in addition to other methods), since it's at a relatively equivalent Beta quality level to the OS itself and is explicitly tested and supported by Apple.

I'll be back when we have additional news to share. For those in the US, enjoy Labor Day weekend!

Never Look a Gift Fix in the Mouth Thursday, July 16, 2020

Happy to say that Apple has fixed the bug in 10.15.5 that caused firmlinks to not be connected after being copied by backup programs.

As you may know, this had two symptoms:

  1. The backup looked incomplete, with some folders seemingly empty on the backup drive.

    Note that the backup was complete, but because the firmlinks weren't fully connected, you couldn't see the files on the Data Volume without specifically looking for them in /Volumes (which you could access via Go To Folder in Finder).

  2. The backup would boot about 2/3 of the way, and then shut down.

Both of these symptoms were caused by the same symptom. We provided a workaround on request for users who needed it, and while convenience was impacted, your data was never in danger.

Fortunately, it's fixed in 10.15.6, and a normal Smart Update will repair your backups and all will be back to normal.

Until Big Sur, of course...where the "adventure" continues. More on that when I have something good to say.

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