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A data-only backup is a complete backup of all of your data, settings, and applications

In some cases CCC will create a data-only backup of a macOS startup disk. If you're unfamiliar with the APFS Volume Group concept that Apple introduced in macOS Catalina, you can learn more about it here:

Working with APFS Volume Groups

For a data-only backup, CCC copies the entire Data volume within that APFS volume group. The System volume, which contains only about 12GB of read-only system files that are installed by the macOS Installer, will not be copied. A data-only backup is not bootable, however the backup can be made bootable by installing macOS onto it, or you can use the data-only backup as a source to Migration Assistant.

Creating a data-only backup

In some cases CCC will configure your task for a data-only backup automatically. You can perform the following steps to manually configure a data-only backup.

  1. If you would ultimately like to make the backup bootable, erase your destination volume as APFS in Disk Utility
  2. Click the Show Sidebar button in CCC's toolbar
  3. Drag the Macintosh HD - Data volume from CCC's sidebar onto the Source selector
  4. Click on the Destination selector and choose your destination

Installing macOS onto a data-only backup

If your data-only backup resides on a non-encrypted APFS volume, you can install macOS onto the backup disk to make it bootable.

Intel-based Macs

  1. Download and open the macOS Installer: [Catalina] [Big Sur]
  2. When prompted to select a disk, click the Show All Disks... button and select your backup disk
  3. Proceed to install macOS onto your backup disk

Apple Silicon Macs

  1. Shut down your Mac, then power it on while holding down the Power button until the startup options are loaded.
  2. Click on the Options button, then click the Continue button
  3. When Recovery has loaded, choose the option to Reinstall macOS Big Sur
  4. Proceed to install macOS onto your backup disk

Migrating data from a CCC backup using Migration Assistant

You can use Migration Assistant to migrate data from your CCC backup to a clean installation of macOS. For example, if your startup disk is corrupted or had to be replaced, you could follow these steps to reinstall macOS and restore your data:

  1. Boot your Mac while holding down Command+R (Intel Macs) or the Power button (Apple Silicon Macs) to boot into Recovery Mode
  2. Use Disk Utility to erase your Mac's (new) internal disk as APFS (see this Kbase article for additional guidance)
  3. Quit Disk Utility
  4. Select the Reinstall macOS option and proceed to install macOS onto your new disk
  5. When macOS boots for the first time on your new disk, you will be prompted to migrate data — accept the migration offer
  6. When prompted to select a source for the migration, select your CCC data-only backup volume
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