Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How to use Apple’s disk imaging tool

iPeople have long claimed that “their” operating system has been ahead of Windows. They say that Windows is always playing ‘catch-up’ with the Mac… and “borrows” (OK. Some say “steal”) the best ideas and features from the Mac OS.
This is an old, and often lively geek debate.

I won’t waste your time rehashing it, or taking sides, but I will say that one area in which the Mac was “ahead” of Windows was it has, for some time now (since OS 9), included a disk imaging utility. Windows users have to purchase such a tool (or find a download) unless you own Windows Vista Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise editions and… who does?
OS 9 came out in 1999.

This Monday, I wrote about how having two backup copies of your files/photos/music really is a Must Have, and how that had saved me much aggravation (I also provided a link to my article on setting the Windows Backup utility to automatically provide back-up protection.) when one of my XP machines refused to boot. Today I will demonstrate how to make a system-state backup copy of your hard-drive on a Mac.

Tip of the day: Create a “ghost image” back-up of your entire hard-drive for easier disaster recovery. The advantages to disk images are: they are compressible, you can encrypt  them, and they are fully searchable.. so you can go into them and retrieve single files or folders. They also “mount” easily, making for rapid “deployment”.
The primary disadvantage lies in the fact that since you are bit-for-bit duplicating an entire drive (or partition), they can be quite large. Also, they’re typically “fixed in time”, and can become stale if not properly amended.

The large size of a partition (drive) image is (usually) not an issue if you apply the second principle of a good back-up strategy: store the copy some place other than on that hard-drive— such as an external hard-drive or optical disc(s).

To make the image, you will use the utility called “Disk Utility”, which is found in the “Utilities” folder under “Applications”, (kinda where you’d expect to find it), which Mac describes as “/Applications/Utilities”.
Open Finder, and click on the black triangle next to Applications. Scroll down to the bottom, and click on the black triangle next to Utilities. Then click on the Disk Utility to open it.

* Under the File menu choose “New”, then “Disk Image”.

* Make sure the volume (drive) you want to copy is selected, then click “Image”.

* Chose Desktop from the “Where” pop-up menu.

Here, you can choose to encrypt, and/or compress. [Generally speaking, you should not encrypt your own (home) back-ups. A forgotten or misplaced password renders them useless!]

* Click “Save”. (You may need to enter an Administrator’s name/password.)

That’s it. Congratulations, you’re done. You will now have an icon on your desktop that is for all intents and purposes another hard-drive (exactly like your original). Double-clicking it “mounts” it and lets you run from it like any other volume (like a thumb drive).
You can (and should!) now move this image to another (attached) hard-drive, or burn it to CD/DVD(s) using Finder, or a disc burning utility.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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April 3, 2008 Posted by | Apple, Backups, computers, file system, how to, PC, tech | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments