Using Disk Utility to Backup Your Mac.
When you decide to back up your Mac, it’s important to choose the right way to do it. While using Time Machine is a great option, sometimes it helps you consider all the options.
For example, if you’re looking to replace your MacBook’s hard drive, consider creating an image of the hard drive and saving it to an external drive. You can do this with Disk Utility.
Making a backup of your Mac will allow you to make an exact copy of your current hard drive and restore all information when you install a new drive. Having a bootable disk backup also eliminates the risk of data loss when performing system updates.
Get ready to back up your Mac
Before you start backing up your Mac, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Disk Utility is free and included with macOS. You can find it in Applications Utilities.
- Before you start backing up your Mac, make sure you have an internal or external hard drive. It needs to be large enough to hold the data you have on your current boot drive, and so that there is nothing on it that you want to save. The backup will remove the destination drive.
- The destination drive must also be properly formatted. Especially if you’re using an external hard drive or external solid state drive for data backups, as most are not pre-formatted for Mac.
- Before starting the process, check the target disk for errors.
- Finally, the whole process will take from half an hour to several hours, depending on the data you are copying. So make sure your computer is plugged into a power outlet so you won’t have to use it for the next couple of hours.
Check the target disk with Disk Utility
If there are any errors on the destination disk, it can cause backup problems and you will not have a reliable copy of the boot disk.
We recommend using Disk Utility to check the target disk before starting the backup process. To do this, follow these steps:
- Open Disk Utility.
- Select the target drive from the device list.
- Click First Aid at the top of the app. Then choose Run.
This will start a verification process that shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
If Disk Utility shows validation errors, you need to repair the disk before moving on. To do this, click the First Aid button in Disk Utility again to repair the disk. If you get a confirmation message at the end, you’re done.
In contrast, if errors are still displayed after repairing the disk, you will need to repeat the entire process until the disk is fully repaired and you receive a confirmation message from Disk Utility.
Start the Mac Backup
Now that the target disk is ready, you can start the cloning process and create a copy of the boot disk. To do this, follow these steps:
- In Disk Utility, select the boot disk.
- From the Disk Utility menu, select File New Image Image from your disk name.
What to do if the image creation option is grayed out
Sometimes the option to create an image from the current disk is disabled. This is due to the fact that some versions of macOS have a rather complex file system. Disk Utility sometimes only shows volumes and not all available devices.
To fix this, open the View menu in Disk Utility and select Show All Devices. After that, you will see a different file structure. To create an image of your internal drive, you need to select it in the “Internal” section, and then repeat the process “File New Image Image from” your drive name “.
- Before starting a backup, you can change its name. If you are only using this drive for backups, we recommend choosing something like Mac Backup so you can remember it in the future.
- Select the target disk.
- For general use, select the default options: “compressed” in the “Format” section and “none” in the “Encryption” section.
- Click Save. This will start the backup.
Disk Utility will take a while to create a backup of your Mac depending on the amount of data on your startup disk. When finished, Disk Utility will notify you. Then you will have a complete copy of your hard drive that you can use to recover data later.
Use Boot Manager to verify your version
Another extra precaution you can take is checking the backup to make sure it acts like a bootable disk. After the Mac backup is complete, you need to restart your computer and see if it can boot from the backup. You can do this using the Mac Boot Manager.
- Close all applications.
- Click the Apple menu and choose Restart.
- When your screen turns black, hold down the Option key until your screen is gray and you see the bootable hard drive icons.
- Select the backup you just created.
Your Mac will now boot from the just created backup. To return to your boot disk, you will need to restart your computer again.
If you don’t want to lose your data, making a Mac backup should become a habit for you. If you can’t remember when you last copied files, it’s safe to say that it’s time to do it again.
There are many different ways to back up your iOS and macOS devices. You can choose the one that best suits your needs, or even better, use different methods for different data types. Besides Disk Utility, try using iCloud to back up your photos and Time Machine to create copies of large files.