SuperDuper & FileVault on OS X Lion

Lion is the latest version of OS X that my old MacBook will run, I don’t know if the following applies to later versions as well.

There’s a few things that can go wrong when trying to make an encrypted Lion clone with SuperDuper:

This is the process that eventually worked for me, using SuperDuper 2.7.2 (v92) on OS X 10.7.5:

  1. Use Disk Utility to create a single, Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted) partition filling your entire external drive.
  2. Use SuperDuper to clone your internal drive to your external, using the erase then copy method to do the first copy.
  3. Now test it: shut down your mac, remove your internal drive, connect your external drive and turn on your mac. It should boot from your external drive, asking you for the drive password to decrypt it during boot.

This confirms that even if your internal drive completely dies, you can boot your mac from your clone. It’s not relying on any kind of boot or recovery partition or encryption keys stored somewhere on the internal drive. (To boot from your clone without removing your internal drive first: shut down the mac, then hold down the option key and turn it on, keep the option key held down until it offers you a choice of drives to boot from.)

I haven’t tried it, but it should be possible to boot the clone and use SuperDuper to restore your OS X system to a new, blank internal drive or even to another mac.

You can now shut down your mac, put your internal drive back in, boot from it, and then connect your external drive and update your clone using SuperDuper’s smart update, and the clone will continue to be bootable.