View Full Version : encryption and bootable backups?

Dan Lester
01-02-2014, 10:13 AM
I've been using Super Duper for many years on many machines. Just fantastic. But now I'm bolluxed. Tried to set up a SD clone (to a 1 TB USB disk) on a 10.5 MacBook Pro that happens to be (unlike all my other machines) encrypted. This is a work machine that I'm required to encrypt. The clone is made, and SD reports that the volume was made bootable, but it's not. When I do option-restart, the backup volume simply isn't displayed as a boot choice.

I suspect it's all in there, but unless I can boot to that volume, and log in, the encrypted stuff on the clone is completely unavailable to me (which is why the encryption makes it secure!) Also, not having a bootable volume makes it pretty inconvenient as a life-preserver in case of a system disk failure.

What's going on? I'm not sure if this is a SD issue, or a system issue. I'm not even totally convinced that the problem is because of the encryption.

01-02-2014, 10:26 AM
Does it show up in the startup disk preference pane as a boot choice?

Dan Lester
01-02-2014, 07:54 PM
Does it show up in the startup disk preference pane as a boot choice?

Yes, it does.

I should add that this machine is an Intel Core 2, and the USB drive is GUID partitioned.

01-02-2014, 08:55 PM
Can you select it as the startup drive in the startup disk preference pane and do that? Repair it with Disk Utility (right-hand "repair disk" button first).

Dan Lester
01-02-2014, 09:33 PM
OK, I did a "Repair" on the USB backup disk with Disk Utility. No problems reported.

Then I selected the backup volume in that disk as the "Startup Disk" in System Preferences on my Mac. Then I rebooted.

Yes! It works. I'm booted on the clone and everything looks, well, like the original.

So what it comes down to is just that option-Restart doesn't want to show me that USB backup volume. Now, I need that to work, of course, because if my laptop disk craters, I need to be able to do option-Restart to boot on the clone. So what's going on? Why can't I do that?

01-02-2014, 10:20 PM
Does it do so now, though? If not, power off, disconnect the drive, get to Option+power on, then attach the drive and see if it does.

I'd recommend making a thumbdrive with the OS installed on it (along with SD) in case you don't have boot media, if the drive is unreliable at Option+power on time.

Dan Lester
01-03-2014, 12:40 PM
OK, as noted, I can command the backup disk to be the "Startup Disk" (in System Preferences). When I do that, the machine reboots successfully to the backup disk.

But option-restart, which I gather is supposed to start something called the Startup Manager, STILL doesn't display the backup disk as a boot option. The only icon it displays to chose from is that of the internal disk.

So the SD clone seems to have been made, and I can boot to that clone, but not through the Startup Manager.

So I'm trying to understand. Is this a SD issue? Or a System issue? Or a backup disk issue?

BTW, this is one of two partitions on the backup disk. The other partition is for backup of another machine. I need to see if I can see that partition with the System Manager on the other machine. I think I once did that, but I'm not sure.

That's a nice idea of making a system backup on a thumb drive. But if I can't use the Startup Manager to boot to an external disk over USB, why should I expect to be able to boot to a thumb drive over USB with it? Are thumb drives treated differently, as volumes, than hard disks?

01-03-2014, 01:52 PM
A simple installation of the OS to the thumbdrive should boot fine. They're regular volumes.

Why your drive doesn't show up, I don't know. We know it's OK, and we know you can boot from it. It should show up...

Dan Lester
01-03-2014, 02:07 PM
Yes, I think that SD is absolved of problems here. Thanks!

01-06-2014, 03:47 PM
Having just run through creating a new encrypted backup in the last week or so, the repair disk thing didn't work for me.

I've only found two reliable ways to create a bootable encrypted backup, and both involve creating the Recovery HD partition:

* Install OS X to the backup drive
* Use Disk Center in a CCC (http://www.bombich.com) trial to create the Recovery HD partition manually (apologies for linking to a competitor)

Once that's done:

* Run SD as normal
* Boot off the unencrypted backup
* Use FileVault to enable encryption of the backup

01-06-2014, 04:02 PM
There are a number of programs out there that can create a recovery volume, if you feel you need one, of course. Regardless, I'd suggest creating a bootable thumbdrive with OS X and SD on it should be have an encrypted (or even image) backup.