Making a “real” clone

I’m a huge fan of SuperDuper! and I’ve used it for years. “Fan” because it’s saved my bacon several times. When a drive dies, I just remove it and use the SuperDuper “clone” and I’m up and running in under 5 minutes.

That said, it’s a “file-level” clone, fully bootable of course, but it’s not an absolutely identical clone, block-for-block.

To do that, you need to do a “block-level” clone. Such a clone ignores the contents of a drive and simply duplicates every low-level block from one drive to the other. You could have one file on the drive or a 15 million; makes no difference – it will take the same amount of time to clone the drive either way.

Carbon Copy Cloner does this, as does DriveGenius and a few others. My personal choice is CopyCatX, since it adds the feature of not requiring the drives to be exactly the same size. (Think about it: if you’re copying all the blocks on one drive, to another drive, that destination drive had better have _exactly_ the same number of blocks as the source, or things are going to get wonky.)

(I believe that if the drives are the exact same size, Disk Utility’s “restore” will also do a block level copy.)

CopyCatX will do a block level clone to a larger destination drive, and then apply the proper resize information to the boot block so that the drive is seen at full size, and not the size of the source.

One quick word here. You’ll often see blanket statements on the internet that “block-level copies are faster than file copies.”

Nonsense. Take a simple example: if you’re copying a 750 GB drive, it will take about 4.5 hours to copy all the blocks. If the source drive has one file on it, a file-level copy will take a few seconds, so the blanket statement that “block-level copies are faster” simply doesn’t hold water. The theory is that the OS has to read the file system and write directories and etc on a file-by-file basis, and that will slow it down. Yeah… but.. these days that adds millionth’s of a second per file. Look: if it takes 4.5 hours to block-level copy a given drive, it will always take 4.5 hours. Period.

The only time a block-level copy will be faster than a file level copy is when the source drive is nearly full… and that refers only to when the destination drive is empty.

If you’re doing a file-level copy using SuperDuper, and the destination already has most of the files from the source (as it would if you’re using SD for backups) then the update of the destination is going to take minutes, not hours.

So: why would you want to do a block-level copy?

1) because it will preserve the exact state of the drive. If you have a drive disaster, the first thing to do is a block-level copy of the damaged drive. Then do your repair attempts on one of them, leaving the other alone. If your repairs only make the situation worse; clone again, and try again.

2) because it will preserve authorizations on that annoying software that uses “activations” and similar approaches. I do this with my daily backup drives. That is: I first do a block-level clone to the destination drive… and from then on, I use SuperDuper to do file-level copies for daily backups. Having done the block-level first insures that the activations are properly copied, and file-level copies won’t alter them.

Finally this tip: why don’t I use Carbon Copy Cloner instead of SuperDuper? Because SuperDuper is nearly twice as fast for file-level clones.

On installing Lion

If you have not run DiskWarrior against your boot drive in a while, it probably wouldn’t hurt to do it now.
One thing I always do before installing a new OS, or update, is run Repair permissions.

Downloading the 3.76 GB file took 45 minutes on my (fairly fast cable) connection, and resulted in an application in my root Applications folder. The installer launched, but I quit it.
Next I copied the entire file to a backup drive.

(You want to do this because the installer will disappear after you have used it.)

Making a bootable DVD:
Then I went to the Lion installer application, and control-clicked on it, choosing “show package contents”
in the resulting contents folder, I opened the SharedSupport folder, to find the file InstallESD.dmg.
I option-clicked on that and dragged a copy of it out to the desktop. (If you do this, MAKE SURE that you option-click, and that the cursor has a green + on it. You want to COPY the file, NOT MOVE it out of the SharedSupport folder!)
Next, I launched Disk Utility and clicked on the burn button. I selected the InstallESD.dmg that I’d copied to my desktop, and let it burn a DVD of that file.

This gives me a bootable DVD for installing Lion. I’m carefully filing this DVD away. Then I tossed out the InstallESD.dmg that was on my desktop.

Once that was done…

I ran Repair Permissions on my main drive; quit all running applications, and ran the Lion installer.
The installer will take a minute to do some setup, and then restart your machine.
The actual installation takes about 30 minutes. (If you are doing this on a laptop, remember to plug in the power supply.)
The installation is hands-off, with the usual “Time remaining: less than a minute” taking about 5 minutes.

Don’t freak out if the screen goes black… it’s just the energy saver kicking in. You can click the mouse button to restore it, and watch the grass grow… er… watch the blue progress bar grow…

I’m not going to repeat things which have already been written, so if you want an overview of what’s new, try these links:

if you get a message saying: “Some features of Mac OS X Lion are not supported for the disk (volume name)”, it means that a repair partition could not be created on your hard drive. see this page:

I’ll report back, as will others here, I’m sure, on what I find that’s most interesting.

Oh… once you install everything and reboot, be sure to check software updates in the Apple menu. iTunes and other items have been updated for Lion.


“They couldn’t say it on the internet if it wasn’t true.”

Is Apple headed for trouble?

Just the observations of an old guy, but one who has been watching and working with Apple since 1978…

FCP-X launch is a disaster.

iCloud reception is luke-warm; hostile in some cases.

Android is a serious contender.

Lion dumbs down the OS.

Apple reduces iAd rates as advertisers flee.

Apples loses “App Store” tm… (maybe)

Apple is “negotiating” with Lodsys.

Google and Amazon have lockers that didn’t cost them a dime to the RIAA (et al.)


“We know what you want better than you do.”  The first sign of problems just around the corner is when you start believing your own PR.

We’ll see how Lion pans out, but if it gets the luke-warm response I expect, I’ll be seriously considering selling my stock. $358 today (7/7/11)… either I”ll be eating crow, or sadly correct… give it a few months.

Honestly, after nearly 65 years on earth, and paying attention all the time,  it’s beginning to look like there’s some tarnish around the edges.


I hope I’m wrong.