Snow Ventura Tuesday, September 26, 2023

As surely as spring follows winter, and summer follows spring, macOS release season follows summer.

And with that, nearly always, a new version of SuperDuper!

I'm happy to announce the immediate availability of SuperDuper! v3.8, which bring Sonoma compatibility, along with some other minor changes.

You can read about the changes in other blog posts here, but for now, you can use the built-in updater to install v3.8 or, if you'd like, you can

Download SuperDuper! v3.8

and install all on your own.

Enjoy the new version!

Prompting Problems Monday, September 18, 2023

tl;dr - SuperDuper! v3.8 B2 now available. Includes some fixes for pre-Sonoma users, and a UI enhancement.

Download SuperDuper! v3.8 B2

Guidance vs. Annoyance

Designing UIs involves a certain amount of compromise. You want to give the user the freedom to do what they want...but you also want to guide them to do the right thing if they're going to make a mistake.

Sometimes, that's easy: you disable items, provide sensible defaults, and minimize areas where mistakes can be made. For example, we disable the "Repair Permissions" option when macOS doesn't support it; you can't make a copy until you've selected a source and destination;

Other times, you are warning them about a bad situation. This is usually done with a confirmation prompt, such as when you're going to run a copy. Here you just want the user to make sure they understand what they're doing.

Of course, you don't want to over prompt, and you don't want to annoy the user. (Looking at you, Apple security prompts.)

The Problem

One thing I see sometimes are schedules set up with "Erase, then copy".

Generally—as in 99+% of the time—you do not want to schedule an "Erase, then copy" backup. It's more dangerous, it's slower, and, on Big Sur and later, it will typically fail if the screen is asleep due to weird behavior of Apple's replicator.

I usually want to do "what the user asks". But here, they're asking for something bad. And while they may know they want to do my experience over the last almost-20-years (omg), they usually don't.

But Sometimes You Need UI, Part 2

So, I finally resolved to do something about this situation.

Now, when you try to schedule an Erase, then copy backup, you'll get a prompt that explains that you probably don't want to do this...and a few buttons that let you schedule a Smart Update instead, schedule the Erase if you really want to, or (of course) Cancel.

It won't be shown very often, so hopefully it won't be annoying. We'll have to see. I'm sure those of you who are annoyed will let me know.

Clicky click

So there you go. New beta, new fixes, a UI update. All there's left to do is

Download SuperDuper! v3.8 B2


Sonoma! Monday, September 11, 2023


v3.8 B1 is out, with support for macOS Sonoma! You can download it from here:

Download SuperDuper! v3.8 B1

It's Beta Season!

Hey, folks! We're back and we're happy to be bringing full Sonoma support to SuperDuper.

In general, v3.7.5 works well with Sonoma already, and this release is focused on fixing the few issues we've run into and polishing things a bit.

What's New

Sonoma is a little bit of a "Snow Ventura" release and hasn't affected SuperDuper a lot. That's both good and bad.

Good because it means that we haven't had to change a ton to get things working properly.

Bad because Apple has not improved its support for bootable backups. Their tool, required for copying the OS, remains quite fussy, sometimes doesn't work, etc. It's something we have no control over, though, so we're doing the best we can with the options available.

Backing Up on Big Sur and Later

As has been the case since Big Sur, the general way to use SuperDuper is:

  • Start with an Erase, then copy backup, which will use Apple's tool to replicate the OS.
  • Update that backup with "Backup - all files" with "Smart Update" in between OS updates.
  • When you want to update the OS on the backup, repeat the "Erase, then copy".

One thing that's important to remember is that you can install the OS over the backup at any time to update it. That will update the OS and system applications, while leaving your data, settings and applications intact.

This means that even if you forget to update the OS, you can do it later...and, you can restore even if you don't have an OS on the backup at all.

Wait, What?

That's right. Even if the backup has no OS on it, as long as it's a "Backup - all files" with "Smart Update", you can restore. The process is easy:

  1. Clean install the OS to the drive you want to restore to.
  2. During first boot of the new OS, you'll be prompted to restore.
  3. At that point, select the SuperDuper backup. All your applications, settings and data will be restored.

Yes, it's that simple.

Concluding Thoughts

We think you'll have success with this new Beta release. As usual, once you've installed a Beta, you will be offered additional Beta releases of v3.8 until the final release. At that point, you'll only receive "regular" updates until you install some future Beta.

Enjoy, and let us know if you have problems.

Download SuperDuper! v3.8 B1

You Got Culpa on My Mea! Saturday, January 21, 2023

One of the problems with supporting versions of macOS going back to 10.10 is that it becomes harder and harder to test older versions...and that's complicated further by Apple silicon, since you can't run an Intel VM on Apple silicon...Rosetta won't work.

Unfortunately, in v3.7.3 and v3.7.4, this has caused a problem. It's something we didn't anticipate, and, alas, it caused some minor attribute issues on older OS versions that are fixed in v3.7.5.

These problems will self-correct the next Smart Update, and never put data at risk, but they're embarassing anyway.

What Happened

During the last few months, we'd had a report that the "Date Added" attribute of files wasn't getting updated. We didn't remember exactly why that attribute wasn't copied, and when we checked it under current OS versions it seemed like it could be copied, so we implemented that in our copy engine and distributed that to some external testers.

During that process, we found a way to copy attributes that allowed us to eliminate a read operation. Basically, the fts API has a field that was populated with things we were reading separately, and we changed the copy engine to use those instead.

External testing showed why we didn't copy "Date Added" in the first place: setting it is not supported by some file systems and some versions of macOS. So, before shipping v3.7.3, we backed out that change (with a typo that caused the relase of v3.7.4), but we left in the optimization.

Unfortunately, post-v3.7.4, we received a few reports of folders that had become inacessible without elevating permissions. On investigation, this was due to the optimization: not all versions of macOS populate that field properly, and that was causing the problem.

The Solution

The solution to this was to back out the optimization, which we've done in v3.7.5, released today. Any incorrect attributes will be automatically updated next Smart Update.

Things to Improve

We wanted to turn around v3.7.4 quickly once we found the problem, which we did, but since we were backing out a change (rather than implementing a fix), we didn't put it through a full external test.

That was a mistake, especially since it involved the copy engine. And while it didn't cause any harm as such (save for embarassment), it's something we'll endeavor to not do again.

The Future

This may mean we will have to phase out "new" support of older macOS versions in future releases: beyond the testing problems, it has become hard to even set the "target" version of SuperDuper builds to 10.10.

That wouldn't mean we won't "support" older macOS versions (after all, we offer versions of SuperDuper that work with macOS all the way back to the Power PC days), but it would mean that new versions of SuperDuper may not support as many versions "back" as we'd like.

Have at It

SuperDuper v3.7.5 is available now for auto-upgrade and as a download. Thanks, as always, for your support, reports and for using SuperDuper: we appreciate it.

Wait, Hold On! Thursday, January 12, 2023

You know that thing where you put out a release, that fixes two minor crashes, but then a typo causes a different failure?

Well, welcome to SuperDuper! v3.7.3/v3.7.4, the "Can I Have a Do-Over" release.

v3.7.3 was released to correct two rare problems: both of which had to do with launching scheduled copies.

The first was a weird race condition that caused occasional crashes right at launch, but only with scheduled/scripted copies launched without loading settings. It was strange, we couldn't reproduce it internally, but it happened to a few users and we think we've run it down.

The second caused copies to terminate successfully, typically after copying all the data, before running the cleanup phase of the copy operation. This was another one we couldn't reproduce internally, but seems to be related to a singleton that was getting re-initialized in some situations. And if that doesn't mean anything to you, don't worry about it, beacuse it's fixed and all is right with the world.

Of course, all was right with the world, until we released v3.7.3 this morning, and within an hour a user got an error.

Really? Oh, Man...

We thought we were in pretty ideal shape. v3.7.3 had been given to quite a few people over the last month or two, and it was working great both internally and in external testing. But, right after release, a user had a copy error on Catalina, and it was quite weird so we ran it down.

During development, we were doing some investigation into copying of some uncopyable attributes, and at one point we found an optimization that allowed us to skip a read operation, since we already had the data.

But, when implmented, there was an expansion-related mistake in one access to the variable, which caused an error in some rare circumstances.

Although, again, we couldn't reproduce the problem internally (I hate that, since it makes it hard to generate a test case to guard against this kind of thing in the future), we nevertheless ran that to ground quickly after v3.7.3's release (ah, v3.7.3, we never really knew ya), and out the door went v3.7.4.

So there you go! Two quick releases, two small fixes, one panicked change of underwear, and one other fix. A good way to spend a Thursday.


Analyzed, Statically Saturday, December 17, 2022

Well, v3.7.1 didn't last very long, did it. >sigh<

Happy to announce SuperDuper! v3.7.2, the "give me a fix, one fix only" release.

Ready for Launch

Here's the deal: when Applescript starts SuperDuper with a specific Apple Event ("launch"), SuperDuper starts and doesn't load the default settings. Instead, it waits for the application scripting it to load the settings it wants, and proceeds from there.

Late in the development of v3.7.1, we ran SuperDuper! through the Xcode static analyzer, and it mentioned that one specific thing in our launch sequence could hang. So, it was moved off the main thread to a background thread.

Initial tests showed things worked, and the analyzer was happy, so we went with it.

If a Bug Happens in the Forest...

Well...I noticed that I received a weird error panel during a scheduled copy that showed that a volume wasn't mounted (which was true, but didn't matter). The copy happened fine, and it was kind of harmless, but it was weird.

That, though, was the result of the moved code...the launch event was loading settings it shouldn't, and if the drives for those settings were missing, you'd get an error.

Now, no users reported the problem, but we found it, fixed it, and that's v3.7.2.

Code is Served

That's about it! I'd love to say "100% Faster!" or "Tastes Great, Less Filling!" but really it's just "a bug was fixed".

And now SuperDuper! v3.7.2 is available for automatic update. Enjoy your weekend!

Ventura Highway Friday, December 16, 2022

I'm happy to announce the immediate availability of SuperDuper! v3.7.1, an update that will go down in history as being released today. >fanfare<

So, what's different?

As is tradition around these parts, after the release of a major OS, and our corresponding major update to support it, there's always something that can be improved. Even with extensive private and public testing, there are just so many different Macs, software configurations, peripherals, drives, drive firmware versions, docks, raw drive units...something always pops up.

And so it has. In Ventura, on some systems, we've seen some cases where, post-replication ("Erase, then copy" in Big Sur and later), the destination volumes wouldn't always re-mount. Sometimes an error would occur (referencing the 'bsd' info), sometimes not. When these failures occur, Apple's replicator has also replicated the source volume name, and due to the error, we didn't get a chance to rename it back to what's expected.

Anyway, it was annoying to you and (because we hate things like this) us. So we've been working for the last month or so to try to find a way to fix this...and I'm happy to say we have.

But the excitement doesn't stop there.

What's in a name?

A recent Ventura release has also started notifying people about "Startup Items" that were installed. Of course, as you might expect, when you set up a schedule, we have to install some items to get those schedules to, you know, run and stuff.

So, Ventura starts telling you that it happened. But - rather than use the Application name, it used the "Development Team Name"...and so people who see that "Bruce Lacey" had added some startup items...confusing everyone. (Bruce, as you'll see in the About box, is my partner in this endeavor).

Of course, this confused people, they turned the startup items off, and then schedules didn't work.

We've found the key needed to get the startup items to say something more sensible, and so now they'll say "SuperDuper!"—please don't turn them off! If you do, your schedules will not work.

No Emulation Needed

Finally, we've found a way to get the updater to not demand the use of Rosetta: something entirely unnecessary, given the SuperDuper! application works natively on Apple silicon. This'll make the update seamless for users on Apple silicon without Rosetta installed.


Yeah, not terribly exciting, I know. But, important behind-the-scenes improvements that should make things better for everyone.

As always, thanks for being a SuperDuper! user, and enjoy the new update!

Silly Season Monday, October 17, 2022

Welcome back to Silly Season, where we all wait to see what the Apple gods have wrought with the new release of the OS that'll come this month.

As most of you already know, since Big Sur, programs that want to copy the OS must rely upon Apple's replicator ('asr') to perform the task. There's no choice: this particular copying ball, and the ability to boot from the result, are entirely in Apple's court.

And at least so far, we're seeing a larger percentage of failures both in replication (typically error 49244, which when decoded and byte stripped is error 92. That means there's non-fatal -- except to the replicator -- corruption) and in boot.

These are rather frustrating for us and, of course, for you. For us, because apart from reporting the issues to Apple, which we have done, we can do nothing about them. Apple has to fix the problems; we cannot work around them.

For you, because until those problems are fixed by Apple, you won't be able to boot from a backup.

Still Works!

That said, your Smart Updates are going to work fine, and remain fully restorable. As explained previously, you need only reinstall the OS and point at the backup when prompted to restore during first boot. This all works great...and when Apple fixes the issues with the replicator and with boot, that will "magically" start working again too.


In the meantime, we've been improving SuperDuper. We've worked around some issues with Google Drive (which was incorrectly protecting folders on drives it's not operating on), significantly improved some corner-cases in Smart Update, and made changes needed to work well under Ventura.

Dinner is Served

We don't expect any major problems with this new release, and it has been working well in limited field release. Given that, it's time to roll out a wide public beta, and so here we are.

As always, to use the Beta, download and install the version linked in this post.

Once you're running a Beta release, any subsequent Betas in this series will be offered to you as updates, as will the final, production release.

Once the production release is installed, no further Beta releases will be offered automatically until you opt-in by installing a future Beta.

Enjoy, and get in touch if you have any problems!

Download SuperDuper! 3.7 B1

The “Roll Up Some Fixes” Release! Sunday, March 13, 2022

Things have been relatively quiet here at the blog, but not because I've just been enjoying listening to records.

Rather, we've been working on a series of fixes that we're releasing today as SuperDuper v3.6.

This release is especially important for Apple silicon users. macOS 12.3 will break SuperDuper! v3.5 due to problems with asr (Apple Software Restore), the tool that must be used to copy the OS, and we've worked around that issue in our new update.

I'm Sure I've Used #blessed Before

On Big Sur and later, as I've written before, asr must be used to produce a bootable copy. We can update everything but the OS with Smart Update, but if the OS needs to be copied, we need to use asr to do it.

As part of its operation, asr blesses the copy. That basically means it does the final steps necessary to set the drive up for boot.

Under Big Sur and later, however, that's not sufficient: the copy has to be authorized for boot, which is done either with the Startup Disk Preference Pane (if it appears there, which it sometimes doesn't) or via the "boot choice" menu at start (which is accessed during startup via Option on Intel Macs, or by holding down Power on Apple Silicon Macs).

On macOS 12.3, a change in bless breaks asr, and it returns an error, which causes SuperDuper! v3.5 to fail the copy. (At this point, everything's been copied, and no data will be lost, but a scary red bar appears, often followed by a change of underwear, a support email, and a request for dry cleaning reimbursement.)

We've changed SuperDuper! to work around this problem, and as long as you've updated to v3.6, things should work fine.

Better, Even!

But that's not all. We've also improved performance, especially when cleaning up folders with fewer files in them during Smart Update; updated our handling of "Cloud" files on Monterey; fixed a crash with new-style serial numbers on macOS versions before 10.14; worked around some security prompts when running from non-Admin accounts...a list of all the updates is in the release notes, as usual.

Status Report

As I'm sure you've noticed, the status bar in an active phase is, well, blue-on-blue. Over the years, Apple has changed both the size and color of their progress bar control so that it's become closer and closer to our color.

When the window is active, that means there's minimal contrast. When inactive, though, it's quite visible...which I often joke is a subtle hint to not watch the pot boil.

We didn't want to create our own control here, since we'd constantly be chasing Apple's visual updates. In the past we've tried applying a hue filter to the control, but that caused some older Macs to crash, and since we support the OS a long way back, and a lot of old Macs, that proved to be unworkable.

And yes, we could change our bar color, but since Apple keeps changing their color, that isn't a good choice either.

All is not lost, though. You can change the color to suit your taste: in System Preferences's General section, the Highlight or Accent selection changes the control color. So, if it bothers you, there you go—go crazy and choose a bar color of your own!

Wake Up!

As I wrote before, if you get a "Resource Busy" error during an Erase, then copy error under Big Sur and later, it's likely your Mac fell asleep during the copy, even though we asked it to stay awake (and even if it looks like it didn't). You can usually fix this by installing Coca from the App Store (it's free!) and using it to keep the Mac awake during this process. Ensure you "Activate" it using its menu extra.

Wrap Up

We've been quite happy with the way SuperDuper! v3.5 has been working in the field, with lots of good feedback, and this version should take care of the few issues we've found.

Thanks to everyone who's using it, and who has written in. Until next time, back to the code mines (which I think is a Pretenders song)!

Plastic Fantastic Sunday, November 07, 2021

I'm sure it's clear from everything I write, but I am, as they say, an Old.

Part of that involves going through many technological transitions: computers; cars; TV; cable, satellite; cell phones; BBS systems; internet; touch-tone phones... I mean, it goes on and on.

Many of those are major advances; certainly, I wouldn't want to go back to the days before computing was ubiquitous. At least, I don't think I would. Probably.


Music has always been an important part of my life. The first thing I ever saved up to buy, in a serious way, was a decent stereo: a Sansui integrated amp, Thorens turntable, Nakamichi TX-2 tape deck and a pair of AVID 230 speakers. I think nearly all of two summers' wages went into this, and the rack to put it in. (Sadly, it was later all stolen out of my dorm room in college.)

Over the years, along with that equipment came a lot of music starting, of course, with LPs. (Embarrassingly, I think the first album I bought with my own earnings was the Jaws soundtrack. It's a great soundtrack, but geez...nerd.)

For the most part, over the years changes to "music storage" were motivated by either "convenience" (vinyl LPs weren't something you could play "portably"; CDs took up space; etc) or "quality" (much less common, but CDs were an attempt to be better and more robust than vinyl; basically all other attempts at improving quality have failed in the broad market -- people don't seem to care).

But at each point, something was lost in the transition. Leaving cassettes aside, the transition from vinyl to CDs basically lost the album art and liner notes. The move to digital lost the physical media entirely, so even the size-reduced "cover" was gone, tactile experience lost. And streaming has been, well, awful for artists and completely eliminated the whole idea of "owning" an almost don't even care whether you've "selected" something...with no cost, there's no need to engage, research, or even think about it.

Sure, streaming service. Hey, iTunes. Just put on something I'd like. Whatever.

The Wayside

But, in that ubiquity, we've left so much behind.

The whole experience of music stores; talking with a proprietor whose tastes help you find new things (hi, long-ago-closed Tom's Tracks in Providence!; hey there, long-ago-closed Town and Campus in Plymouth!); flipping through bins of beautiful covers; reading Robert Christgau's haiku-like descriptions of music in his guide; trying to figure out what the hell he was trying to say.

And then, selecting—sometimes on instinct—and bringing it home. Committing real money...and being invested in what's going to happen. The experience of opening an album; coaxing the disc out of the sleeve; placing it on a turntable, cleaning it, carefully lining up the stylus with the lead-in groove and...with the descent...a soft pop...and, somehow, music, taking you on a journey.


I look at a CD and I kind of understand the deal with how it functions. You take waveform in the analog domain, where we all live. You sample that at a rate that basically works. You record the numbers. You burn the bits to a disc. It basically makes sense. It's a scheme I could have thought up.

Mono music is kind of the same. Waveform makes wiggles. You trace the wiggles on a disc. You play back the wiggles. I get it.

Stereo, though, I just don't know. 45-degree cuts? A single groove that somehow produces two channels? I mean, the music is literally right there. It's entirely visible with your eyes, and yet so mysterious. It's not something I would have thought of. Analog is a kind of crazy, weird thing.

There's some sort of magic going on.


Sure, there are limitations, as there are with everything. As "receivers" of the information we're profoundly limited.

We're also limited in attention, which has, at least in my case, gotten worse over the years. Albums, though, are something you can't really ignore, because in 17 minutes or so they demand your attention as you need to lift, flip, clean and start side 2.

It's an experience that has to be planned by the musicians. Sequencing. Time between tracks. The side break. The inner sleeve, gatefold, cover, type, art...all of it working together, encouraging attention, focus.


And I think that's part of it. Vinyl encourages—requires—attention. You have to be an active listener.

It can clearly sound just as good (or bad) as any other method of music storage and reproduction. I'm not going to make claims of some sort of sonic miracle that occurs when stylus hits groove. But I am going to say that everything, as a whole, is just so much more enjoyable.

Your own focus makes you hear things. And the trip the musicians planned for you takes you somewhere. They tell you a story. You just have to listen.

You have to focus.

It Came from the Basement

So, up from the basement came my old records. A turntable from years ago, restored and plugged in.

With the spinning, the vibration, the concentration, a broad smile. It's really good to have this music ritual back.

And amazing to discover what you can hear when you give yourself the time and space to focus.

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