Guide to the Mac Backup App 'Carbon Copy Cloner 4'

A simple way to keep the files on your Mac safe

Carbon Copy Cloner has long been one of our go-to applications for creating bootable clones of a Macs' startup drives. Together with Apple Time Machine, the two apps can be the key to an effective backup strategy for almost all Mac users.

Carbon Copy Cloner 4.x

What We Like
  • Single-window user interface is easier to navigate.

  • Task Chaining streamlines backup tasks.

  • Can edit scheduled tasks.

  • Email notifications with customization options.

  • Task history logs allow you to review backup activity.

  • Disk Center gives quick information on attached drives.

  • Clones can include image of hidden OS X Recovery partition.

  • Interface puts all the features at your fingertips.

What We Don't Like
  • History logs are provided in a separate window.

  • No time estimate for tasks, except in CCC menu bar items.

New versions of backup apps rarely cause much excitement, but Carbon Copy Cloner has such a long history with the Mac, it's interesting to see what Bombich has come up with in the way of new or improved features.

The interface is easy to use. You can create a clone by selecting a source, selecting a destination, and pressing the Clone button. With those three simple actions, you're off to the races, or at least able to have a bootable clone.

The simplicity hides a lot of complex actions that need to be taken to make effective clones of data, and CCC provides access to these advanced options for those of you who need or want more control over the process.


Carbon Copy Cloner allows you to repeat tasks, such as cloning your startup drive using a schedule. Schedules can be as simple as repeating a task once every hour, week, or month. You can also create complex schedules that allow your Mac to be in sleep mode or powered off. CCC will even monitor your connected volumes and run a backup if you plug in a specific drive.

You can edit schedules after they're created, something earlier versions of CCC couldn't do. The editable schedules are great, allowing you to make modifications quickly if you realize your original schedule has a flaw that needs to be corrected.

Chaining Tasks and Running Scripts

Tasks are actions you have CCC perform; for instance, cloning your startup drive is a task, backing up your home folder is a task, and so on. Carbon Copy Cloner allows you to chain tasks together. Perhaps you want to make two clones, one to a local drive and one to a disk image located on a network drive. You can use the task chaining option to allow the two tasks to be performed with ease.

Besides chaining tasks, you can also have CCC execute a shell script before or after it completes a task. For example, you could use a shell script to ensure that no apps and associated data files are open before you run a task, a handy feature for a late-night backup. Or you could use a shell script to announce, "The clone is complete," using one of Mac's built-in voices.

Final Thoughts

We like Carbon Copy Cloner. Newer versions have a lot going for it. It is ready for anyone upgrading from an older version of the Mac operating system to OS X Yosemite through macOS High Sierra; with version 5 supporting up to Catalina and version 6 supporting Big Sur.

The interface makes many processes that were once difficult easy for just about anyone to use, even if you're new to using this kind of app.

If you're looking to augment a Time Machine backup system or want to create your own backup and archive system, Carbon Copy Cloner deserves a look.

Carbon Copy Cloner is available to download with a 30-day demo.

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