Backing Up a Mac (with OSX and Bootcamp) 
If you have a Mac you are probably already familiar with Time Machine. It works pretty well and has some nice features. However, it’s not really the ideal way to recover from say a catastrophic hard drive failure. My understanding is that your Time Machine backup cannot be used for a recovery back to EXACTLY the state of your machine at the point of the last backup. For instance, upon restoring you might find that some of your software is no longer licensed correctly (because some digital certificates aren’t backed up properly).

Because of this, many folks recommend making regular backup images, which are exact snapshots of your hard drive. There are ways to do this with low level tools for free, but if you want to keep things easy then most people seem to recommend purchasing SuperDuper!. This tool lets you make backups to an external or network drive. You can also do efficient incremental backups (only updating the changes since the last backup) and do scheduling. You can also mount the image (it’s a sparsebundle) and grab individual files/directories if you like.

If you have a Windows OS on a Bootcamp partition then things get a bit trickier if you want to back that up too. Windows 7 has a fairly nice built-in backup feature. Unfortunately, from my understanding there is no way to recover a Windows 7 backup image without totally formatting the hard drive and then recovering the image. This creates a catch-22 because in order run Windows under Bootcamp, you must first install OSX (which would immediately get wiped by the Windows 7 image recovery).

The solution is to make backup images of your Bootcamp partition while OSX is booted. There is exactly one easy-to-use tool that can do this: Winclone. Unfortunately, this is product is no longer supported. It was released as donation-ware but donations are no longer accepted so it’s effectively free now. From everything I’ve read online, it apparently still works (most of the time). Many have been able to restore from the compressed Winclone images and you can even do resizing of the image if you want to increase or decrease the space that Windows takes up on your hard drive.

So I have been making Winclone image backups with the realization that there might be problems. So I also make user file backups with Windows 7’s incremental “Shadow Copy” feature (sort of like Time Machine). If the Winclone image doesn’t work, I’ll just have to rebuild everything and reinstall my applications.

I have spent a lot of time looking, but I can’t seem to find any better solution than Winclone. Almost every other tool out there (including Acronis and others) can’t handle the partitioning scheme that Apple uses for Bootcamp (GUID Partitioning).

If you just need Windows for a just a couple pieces of Windows-specific software (or just for games), then you might not care about making recovery images at all. Perhaps only using Windows 7 “Shadow Copy” backups for user files (or use DropBox or a remote backup service).

I however really want the full image backups (that can actually be recovered under Bootcamp) because I boot into Bootcamp both from VMWare Fusion as well as directly. This is officially against Microsoft’s licensing policy and you are supposed to buy TWO OS licenses if you want to do that. However, it can be made to work if you jump through the right hoops. If image recovery works for me (in the event of a failure or hard drive upgrade) then I can avoid going through all the effort of double-activating Windows 7 off of one license again.

Hopefully some better tools will come out for completely backing up a Mac with Bootcamp. I'm surprised there isn't a better way already (or maybe I've missed something).

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