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How to create a bootable image of your hard drive and three good reasons to do it

Having a full image of our hard drive is something that can sound complicated, difficult to do and even meaningless to many of us. But the truth is that having an image of our drive and having a bootable image on top of it, meaning that you can boot any Mac from it, can be really useful in some specific situations.

Let’s start at the beginning: how do we create an image of our hard drive?

Basically we have two possibilities, one is to resort to external tools and the other is to make use of system applications in exchange for a little more effort.

  • The simple way. So simple that you hardly need to explain it, for that you need to use an external software called Super Duper (you can also use another alternative called Carbon Copy Cloner). This tool allows you to create bootable images of any hot disk, this means that you can use the device at the same time as you perform the operation. The result is a hard disk image that you select that you can use to boot up any Mac with. Super Duper also allows us to make incremental copies although in this case we are not interested in that option, just create a base image.
  • The complicated way. As I said, the Disk Utility does not allow us to make an image of a HDD that is mounted at that moment, although we can make such operation from an external equipment. If we have an external installation or other equipment at home to start in Target mode, we can mount our computer and make an image with the Disk Utility. To do so, select the HDD and use the option: FileNewDiskImage from XXXXX, being XXXXX the name of your hard disk.

Ready! We already have an image of our hard drive.

What can I do with this image?

You’re obviously wondering why we want to perform such an operation. Well the possibilities are several, here I explain three situations in which you can make use of that image both to save time and to save more than one disaster.

  • Reinstall your computer. It is the basic utility if you have an image of your computer, imagine reinstalling your computer from an image that contains all your preferences, programs and basic settings. Thanks to this process you will save a lot of time if you have any failure in your computer and you need to reinstall everything, also you will not have to reinstall and later recover the data as with Time Machine. But something more interesting is the ability to use this image in case you have to reinstall several computers in a company or organization. Configure a computer with all the basic preferences of that company, create the image, place the image on the server and reinstall all the computers quickly restoring them from that image and without having to configure one by one the computers.

    Screencast: cómo crear copias de seguridad “booteables” de tu disco duro

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    Temas de interés
    Start your computer from an external drive. Now that hard drives are more than affordable (and quite capable), a great feature of these images is to partition a disk and restore that partition with the image. This allows us to have a second, but external, OS X installation so that if we need to boot our computer externally in case of an internal problem or with files, we can do it in a simple way (holding the alt key during the system startup) and you can also try to repair your internal disk (if it is a non-physical problem).

  • Experience changes without fear. Have you ever had a problem with your main computer for applying changes without much knowledge? Don’t worry, we’ve all experienced it at some point, but I’m sure that after some disaster you’ve lost the desire to continue playing with your computer. If you have an external drive where you can experiment without problems, you can save yourself more than one scare in the future.

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How to create a bootable image of your hard drive and three good reasons to do it
How to create a bootable image of your hard drive and three good reasons to do it


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