How do I back up + restore a full disk?


Crotchety UI Nitpicker
I know the subject of backup procedures has been covered quite a bit over the years, but I've searched and just can't find what I need.

What I want is a simple (or maddeningly complex; honestly, I'm not that picky at this point) way to dump ALL the data from my startup disk onto a series of DVDs/CDs, and then later restore my ENTIRE disk from those DVDs later (and it needs to be bootable in the end, of course). Compression would be swell, but I'll take what I can get. I don't need anything fancy like dynamic incremental backups.

Ironically, my first computer ever, a Performa 475, came with EXACTLY such a program pre-installed (of course, back then it used floppies :) ). You just loaded it up, clicked a button, and inserted floppy after floppy when it prompted you, and that was it. Boom, complete backup. And restoring it was just as easy! (I remember my first such backup took 27 floppies. And that seemed like an awful lot of data back then. Ah, simpler times.)

So what's the best way to do this? With OS 9 I always knew I could just manually copy files, manually copy them back, and it would all just work again. But OS X doesn't seem that simple to me.

EDIT: I just noticed that if I exclude my home folder, my entire disk is less than 8GB. That means it should probably fit on a single DVD if it's compressed. That should make things a lot easier. But I'm still clueless as to how to maintain bootability.
I don't know of any compression programs for backups, but I use Deja'Vu which comes with Toast 6. It allows you to do fancy or normal backups to CD/DVD's. You just choose the folders to back up (or the whole hard drive if you want). Another option is Retrospect backup software.

If you want a free solution, you'll have to get an external FireWire or USB2 hard drive at least the same size as your internal hard drive and then download Carbon Copy Cloner for free. This freeware app will create a bootable drive which is an exact copy of your current internal drive. I don't believe it supports backup to CD/DVD's though.

One last choice would be the backup software made by Apple which comes free with a .Mac subscription. You can backup to .Mac servers (though not much since you get very little space) or to CD/DVD's. Problem is, if you don't keep paying your subscription each year, you cannot use Backup.
I think applemaz pretty much summed up all your options.

I used to use Retrospect on Panther, but it doesn't work on tiger (which is a pity, coz it rocks!). You wouldn't believe how many hours I spent trying to get things going in Tiger.

There is an update for Retrospect to allow it to work in Tiger, which works for the most part (allows you to run the app and backup your disk), but when I tried to recover the disk it didn't do it properly and instead completely f#!&#d up my drive.

I think Toast is the best bet, using Dejavu. I haven't used it myself, but it definately works in Tiger, and I've heard good things.
Thanks for the replies. I don't think Deja Vu came with my copy of Toast 6. I guess it's a Titanium-only thing, or just not included in the drive-bundled version. Anyway, Toast 7 just came out. Maybe I'll buy that.

I didn't realize that CCC worked in Tiger now. I'd been keeping an eye on it for updates, but it's still at the same version as before. Turns out 10.4.2 fixed the problem itself. Nice. I'm very glad to have that back in my toolbox.

I'm actually done with my backing up now. I used CCC to create a "bootable" image of my entire boot volume EXCEPT my Users folder (I assume it won't REALLY boot without my Users folder, but I figured I could just add it in later after I restored the system). Then I made another compressed image of my Users folder after removing the major space-eaters (iTunes Library, movies, disk images, etc.). That actually all fit on one DVD (that compression is better than I thought!). Then I did everything else the old-fashioned way: I kept dropping files into Toast until it hit 4.4GB. (By the way, I am annoyed that DVDs use the "marketing" definition of GB, unlike CDs. 4.7 GB, indeed! Ah well...)

I notice that CCC has an option to segment the disk images it creates. I tried this, thinking it would solve all my problems, but the result was strange: I ended up with one segment the entire size of my folder, and then lots of segments of the size I specified (totalling, I guess, what my entire folder would be if it were compressed). The small segments couldn't open without the big one present, thud defeating the entire purpose of segmenting. :( I checked the CCC forum, and apparently this is another bug in Tiger.

My new question is, IF this worked properly (there were some workarounds posted on the CCC forum), how would the restoration process go? I've only worked with segmented DMGs once before, and it required that ALL the segments be present in the same folder at the same time to opened, so I couldn't split them over several disks and use them like that (grrrr). But I keep hearing mention of "ASR" (Apple Software Restore), and making DMGs that support it. Would this fix that issue?

Like I said, for now I'm done. I backed up, reinitialized, restored, and now everything's running smoothly again. So it's not urgent. Still, I'd be interested to know for future reference.
I can't answer your second question, but DejaVu is located in your System Preferences window under the "OTHER" category as long as you own Toast Titanium 6.