Restoring from a backup on a remote Macintosh

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macOS Catalina (10.15) and later

Using Carbon Copy Cloner to back up to/from another Macintosh on your network

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Carbon Copy Cloner offers the option of securely copying your selected data to another Macintosh on your network (or anywhere on the Internet for that matter) via the Remote Macintosh... options in the Source and Destination selectors. After a brief setup procedure to establish trust between your Mac and the destination Mac, simply choose the source or destination volume/folder on the remote Mac and CCC will take care of the rest.

A closer look at how CCC determines the "bootability" of a destination volume

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CCC determines whether your destination volume will be bootable and indicates any configuration concerns in the "Cloning Coach" window. If you see a yellow warning icon in the Task Plan header, you can click on that icon to see these concerns. CCC will also present these concerns to you the first time that you configure a backup task to any particular destination volume.

A caveat for backing up to a remote Macintosh that has no user logged in

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For improved detachability, macOS will unmount any non-internal volumes that are attached to the system when you log out. So, for example, if you log out of your computer while a USB or Thunderbolt hard drive enclosure is attached, you can detach those hard drive enclosures from the system without having to manually unmount them first. This is a good thing — it would be annoying if you had to log back in to your system just to eject a drive. The downside of this, though, is that if you have a CCC backup task that runs when no user is logged in, the destination volume may be unavailable.

"My disk is already formatted APFS or HFS+, why am I getting this warning?"

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If your disk is not partitioned using the scheme recommended and supported by Apple, CCC will indicate a warning when you start the backup task such as:

"You may have difficulty booting from this destination volume, the underlying disk is not partitioned with a partitioning scheme that Apple recommends for Intel Macs.", or when CCC attempts to convert the destination to APFS after installing macOS 10.15 Catalina, CCC may be unable to convert the volume from HFS+.

I have a full-volume backup in a folder or a disk image, but I don't have a bootable backup. How can I restore everything?

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CCC makes bootable backups specifically to avoid this kind of situation. When you have a bootable backup, you simply boot from that, then restore everything to a replacement disk or the original disk. One step, minimal time, couldn't be easier. Occasionally people get into this sticky situation though -- I have a backup of everything in a disk image or in a folder on the backup volume, there's a clean installation of macOS on my replacement disk, now how do I get everything back to the way that it was before?

Restoring non-system files

What makes a volume bootable?

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Bootability comes down to a few simple rules:

Backing up large files, mounted disk images, and Virtual Machine containers

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Note: When backing up an APFS-formatted volume with CCC 5.1 or later, CCC will copy files from a read-only snapshot of the source volume. The subject of this article is not applicable in those cases.

Backing up databases on OS X Server

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Databases are proprietary file types that often cannot be backed up in the conventional manner. In CCC, you can leverage a preflight shell script to perform an "out of band" backup of various databases using database-specific tools. The CCC backup task will subsequently back up the database archive files, from which you could restore the database at a later time.

The following pre-clone shell script will dump the contents of any MySQL databases. In the event that your standard backup of the database doesn't open, you can later restore it from the dump.