If you use a Hackintosh you need a good backup solution. The chance of something going wrong is a bit higher than when running macOS on an Apple computer. Any macOS update can theoretically break your installation, you can break you Clover setup by accident or you SSD might just die.
With a good backup solution you should be up and running in a few minutes after any of those problems occur. I tried a few solutions as my requirements changed.
Initial image based backups
First I decided to use CloneZilla and backup the whole macOS SSD into an image file on another HDD every week. In case of failure I would be able to restore the image file to the SSD or any new SSD and be back up and running in about 30 minutes. I basically use macOS only for work, so restoring an at most week old backup did not seem like a problem, I would then just do a
git pull and all the important data would be back.
The backups worked fine, when I bought a bigger SSD for macOS and just restored the latest backup image to it and everything went fine. I had to remember to boot CloneZilla every week and do the backup, but that was not that much of a problem, it became a weekly ritual.
The problem with image base backups
The problem is that requirements change over time, most of the time after problems you did not expect before.
Size dependent on the filesystem
CloneZilla works well with
HFS+, can detect used and free space. This means it only backs up the used space, so the resulting image is not as big as your SSD and the process is fast. When you change the filesystem to
APFS, for example when updating to Mojave this is no longer true. CloneZilla does not support
APFS so it backs it up sector by sector, the resulting image is as big as the SSD and the process is quite slow.
Inflexibility for smaller fixes
One time I updated Clover and my Hackintosh did not boot, got stuck on some error message. The problem was that the Clover installer decided not to check
OsxAptioFix3Drv-64.efi by default anymore and this module got deleted.
Doing a full restore from an image seemed like a waste of time when I just needed to restore one missing file. I used Clover on my
Unibeast flash drive that I keep safe and booted the Hackintosh with it. This screwed up iMessage (different serial number). I then reinstalled Clover checking
OsxAptioFix3Drv-64.efi, booted backed normally and fixed iMessage.
This made me realize that image based backups are not ideal for real world problems (you probably screw up your EFI or kexts more often that your SSD dies) and I got looking for some other solution.
Bootable macOS backups
I stumbled upon Carbon Copy Cloner; a backup tool that offers bootable backups for macOS. I bought another SSD for bootable backups and got to work.
Preparing the SSD
Once you plug in the backup SSD, you need to format it to Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Do not just format the existing partition (if any already exists), format the whole drive.[Read More]