Be sure you prepare for the Mountain Lion before you download and install this great upgrade. The new Mac operating system (OS) upgrade is here and there are some great features. While most upgrades go smoothly, there is a rare occasion when it crashes your computer. It's better to be safe and back up or make copies of your documents, databases, photos, music, movies, and other important files.
The Limitations of Backups
Mac computers come with a backup utility called Time Machine. The easiest way to use it, you'll need a (Mac formatted) external hard drive connected to your computer. Look for the icon in the menu bar on top of your screen and turn it on choosing the external hard drive from the list.
However, if you have software that you have downloaded that would be lost if your computer crashed, or if you don't want to re-download everything. Consider creating a clone of your computer.
What is a Bootable Clone?
A clone, is an exact copy of everything that's on your computer, but now it's on an external hard drive. "Bootable" refers to "booting up" (starting up) your computer. You can start and run your whole computer from a bootable clone.
A clone is your best safeguard against any kind of fatal crash on your computer. If your Mac's hard drive was physically damaged, if you got a virus (not likely), or if software (like an upgrade to Mountain Lion) made your computer unusable, a clone would have everything that is on your computer today.
How to Create a Bootable Clone
While it sounds very techie, it's actually easy to do. It is important to test the bootable clone before you continue with any changes on your computer. When the clone software has finished, turn off your computer and go to the last section of this story to learn how to start from the clone. If all goes well, then continue with updating to Mountain Lion.
What you need
- And external hard drive
- Cloning software
Choose an external hard drive that is larger than the hard drive on your computer. I have a 250GB hard drive on my MacBook, and need an external hard drive with over 320GB of storage—available for under $50 on Amazon, Staples, Office Max, Costco. You can use a hard drive that has other files on it, but I like to keep my bootable drive separate so no other files could potentially corrupt my bootable clone.
If you are using a hard drive you have used before: If you have an external hard drive, you may need to reformat it. It's not hard. To find out a your hard drive's format use use the Disk Utility app found on your Mac. It will be in your applications folder or search for the "Disk Utility" app using the spotlight magnifying glass in the upper right corner of your Mac. Look at the bottom for the stats on the hard drive. If it says Mac OS extended, you're good. If it says anything else—"MS DOS" or "Fat 32" you will need to reformat the disk using "Erase." Be sure to type a name in the field (I called mine "Lion Bootable") so that you'll know that this is your bootable clone if you connect it to your computer. Formatting will erase everything that is currently on the disk, so be sure to copy any files that were on that disc to another hard drive.
Clone software - Download clone software from the internet. SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner. I have used both and found that SuperDuper kept stalling and Carbon Copy Cloner worked perfectly. Others users swear by Super Duper
Using your bootable clone.
If your computer's hard drive makes a whirling sound and fails, if you can't start your computer normally, or if you want to use the old Lion system after you have upgraded to Mountain Lion, you can boot from the clone.
Be sure the hard drive that has the clone is connected to your computer, and your computer is turned off. Hold down the option key while you press the power button. Do not let go of the option key until you see the screen that shows you the bootable drive options. Choose the drive that has the clone. When you are done using the old clone, shut down the computer properly by choosing shut down from the apple menu. Disconnect the hard drive, and press the power button to start your computer normally.
Find out why you will want to upgrade to Mountain Lion with my list of favorite features and how to use them.