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ctucker10 10-18-2008 08:48 AM

new MacBook, no FireWire
 
I don't have a new MacBook yet. I'm just wondering how SuperDuper will work with USB2.0 instead of FireWire400.

Currently I use SD and TimeMachine to backup a 12" Powerbook G4 to two seperate external FireWire drives. TimeMachine everyday, SuperDuper once a week. I'm considering buying a new 13" MacBook. The new MacBooks do not have a FireWire port.

Will SuperDuper work reliably via USB2.0 for my weekly Smart Backups?

dnanian 10-18-2008 08:56 AM

Yes. SuperDuper! works fine with USB drives, properly partitioned. The issue is with USB and Power PC-based Macs, which don't support startup from USB.

Intel Macs work fine with USB drives (even though FireWire is better).

brich 10-18-2008 10:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dnanian (Post 21999)
Yes. SuperDuper! works fine with USB drives, properly partitioned. The issue is with USB and Power PC-based Macs, which don't support startup from USB.

Intel Macs work fine with USB drives (even though FireWire is better).

Dave, for clarity's sake, if I have an Intel Mac and a choice of cloning via FireWire or USB, what specifically would make FW the better choice? (I'm still in the PPC environment with a 12" PB, and SuperDuper works perfectly with FW). But, my concerns in moving to the Intel side are comparative speed for incremental backups and reliability. Is the USB alternative just as reliable but slower? Can you elaborate?

dnanian 10-18-2008 12:01 PM

Specifically, FW maintains speed bidirectionally, and doesn't 'step down' its performance to very low levels when slower devices are connected (because each drive is at least FW400). Bidirectional transfers (read and write) can occur simultaneously, too, at full speed.

On top of that, each FW device is 'smart', and transfers between devices are handled by the device, without mediation by the host.

FW 'power' is more reliable and higher, so bus powered devices tend to operate better.

Because there are 'more' devices with USB connections, there are more opportunties for bus disruption, slowdowns and failures.

Finally, a FW port is a FW port. On laptops and the like, some of the USB ports are 'high power', some are not, and users can get confused. (Yes, there's FW800 and FW400, but they're explicity different ports, even though you can use an adapter.)

No doubt there are many other reasons, but those are some off the top of my head.

brich 10-18-2008 01:03 PM

Thanks for that information. If I interpret the gist of it accurately, the USB2 port on a new MacBook will work ok with a USB2 external drive (I use bus-powered external for my lappies), but FW would still be a superior connection choice for bootable cloning. Dave, if you were considering a new MacBook, would the lack of FW be a major consideration or even a showstopper based on your experience?

dnanian 10-18-2008 01:31 PM

It's something I care about, yes. But if FireWire vanished from the world tomorrow we'd all have to deal with USB, and I'm sure we all could.

ctucker10 10-18-2008 02:27 PM

Dave -

My current Powerbook is PowerPC-based. How do I determine if it supports startup from USB?

dnanian 10-18-2008 03:09 PM

Please re-read what I said above...

binotto 10-19-2008 07:14 AM

The end of Target Mode?
 
Right now, I backup between documents partitions on an iMac and a MacBook using Target Mode, instead of using an external harddisk. This way all my Macs have identical documents.

Does the lack of FireWire on the new MacBook mean the end of this workflow? (I'm guessing that there isn't any Target Mode on the new MacBook.)

Do you know if there is Target Mode on the new MacBook Pro? Are there any problems backing up using a FW400 to FW800 converter (no more FW400 on any of the new Macs)?

Many thanks,
Brett

dnanian 10-19-2008 09:53 AM

The USB only MacBooks will not be able to do this, correct. You'll have to use other techniques (for example, use SugarSync or DropBox to syncronize the two folders).

The new MacBook Pro retains FireWire Target Disk Mode, and there's no problem (I've found) with 800->400 cables or adapters.

mkraft 12-04-2008 01:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dnanian (Post 21999)
Yes. SuperDuper! works fine with USB drives, properly partitioned.

I don't recall seeing (in the SD user guide) any requirement that USB drives be partitioned to use SuperDuper!

I thought that was only an issue if the user wants the backup to share the drive with other files (?)

What does "properly partitioned" mean exactly?

Thanks.

chris_johnsen 12-04-2008 04:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mkraft (Post 22570)
I don't recall seeing (in the SD user guide) any requirement that USB drives be partitioned to use SuperDuper!

I thought that was only an issue if the user wants the backup to share the drive with other files (?)

What does "properly partitioned" mean exactly?

Thanks.

All disks should be partitioned, this is not a requirement from SD!, it is just the way disks are generally managed on all operating systems these days. Completely unpartitioned disks are usually supported, but such usage is very rare for data disks and extremely rare for startup disks. Being partitioned does not imply that there must be more than one volume created from a single physical disk. A disk can be 'partitioned' into one volume (even though the normal English meaning of to partition is “to divide into multiple parts”). Usually a new Mac will come with its drive partitioned under the GPT (GUID Partition Table) scheme into a single volume that spans (nearly) the entire disk.

Partitioning a disk into multiple volumes is one way to store both a system backup and other files (or more than one backup, etc.) on the same drive. Another way is to make backups to disk image files that are stored alongside other files.

By "properly partitioned", I suspect that he means that Intel Macs need GPT to be bootable and PPC Macs need APM (Apple Partition Map) to be bootable.

Many external drives come partitioned in the MBR (Master Boot Record) style with a FAT-variant filesystem because that is a partitioning scheme and filesystem combination that just about every operating system understands (Windows, Macs, other UNIX and UNIX-like systems, etc.). Just because an OS can read a volume does not mean that the underling hardware+firmware can boot from the volume.

I suspect that SD! will backup to/from any volume that is formatted as HFS+ (even one on an MBR partitioned disk). But the target volume will likely only be bootable if the disk is partitioned with the scheme that the hardware requires (this is because the BIOS/OpenFirmware/EFI usually only looks in one partition-scheme-dependent place for booting information).

mkraft 12-04-2008 12:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chris_johnsen (Post 22572)
I suspect that SD! will backup to/from any volume that is formatted as HFS+ (even one on an MBR partitioned disk).

Thanks. I wasn't aware of that usage of the term 'partition.' So, if I understand your reply, one only has to use an HFS+ drive, or reformat a drive that isn't HFS+-formatted, and all should be well for any SD backups (including their being bootable) - ?

dnanian 12-04-2008 01:40 PM

No. You need to partition the drive properly for your CPU type (even as a single volume/partition).

chris_johnsen 12-04-2008 03:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mkraft (Post 22575)
So, if I understand your reply, one only has to use an HFS+ drive, or reformat a drive that isn't HFS+-formatted, and all should be well for any SD backups (including their being bootable) - ?

Partitioning and formatting are independent. The partitioning scheme specifies how the disk is divided into one or more volumes. The format of a volume (each volume can be formatted in a different way) specifies how the files of a volume are stored in the space reserved for the volume by the partitioning scheme.

Disk
Partition Scheme
Partition 1
Volume
Partition 2
Volume
Disk:Partition Scheme ratio is always 1:1.
Partition Scheme:Partition ratio is 1:(1 or more).
Partition:Volume ratio is always 1:1.

For bootable SD! backups, you should use the proper partition scheme for your hardware (GPT for Intel, APM for PPC). And since SD! only works with HFS+ volumes, that is the format (filesystem) you will need to use. Both the partitioning scheme and the format need to be correct for a bootable backup.


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