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I've got an external hard drive and I'd like to create a full, bootable backup of my hard drive onto it. I'm running Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger). I'd like to perform this backup from the command line, using rsync.

A typical command for backing up my entire HD to the external drive would be something like this:

rsync -sometags / /volumes/iMacHomeBackup

However, this isn't a reasonable command to run. Many folders shouldn't be copied onto an external HD, because OS X modifies them according to the present state of the system. As far as I can tell /Network should be left off, using the --exclude tag, as should /Volumes.

Am I right in assuming that these shouldn't be copied? Would the copied files still result in a bootable drive? What other folders should be left off? Consider /dev, any swap files, and temp files.

Would any special rsync tags aide me in accomplishing my goal of creating a "perfect, bootable backup drive?"

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Here is a great resource.

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rsync should be able to do what you're talking about, but if you want a dead simple way to make a bootable drive, try Carbon Copy Cloner.

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CCC worked some serious magic on when I tried to use it, and I had to exchange the fried drive for a new one. Though it might be unreasonable, I'd like to stay away from CCC, even though it's based in rsync. – stalepretzel Jul 16 '09 at 2:16
I just used CCC yesterday to clone a 120 GB drive onto a new 500GB. I swapped the new 500 in, and it booted with absolutely no issues (MacBook Pro) – David Snyder Jul 17 '09 at 0:54
I too have had great success with CCC. – donut May 17 '10 at 12:49

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