How to set up your first backup

This documentation is for an older version of CCC. You can find the latest version here.
Last updated on January 20, 2023

Watch a video of this tutorial on YouTube

Most first-time CCC users are looking to back up the Macintosh HD "startup disk". We walk through the steps for setting up that first backup task here.

Attach the backup disk to your computer

See the Choosing a backup drive section for additional advice on this subject.

Format the disk

Before you can use a new disk for a backing up your Mac, you must first initialize it with the correct format using Disk Utility.

See the Preparing your destination disk for a backup or restore section of the documentation for step-by-step instructions. You can also watch a video of that tutorial on YouTube.

Open CCC

Applications > Carbon Copy Cloner

Open CCC

When you open CCC for the first time, you'll be guided through your first task setup. If you prefer to not be guided, click the Tips button in CCC's toolbar.

Select the Source

Click in the box under the SOURCE heading to view available sources.

See also: "Do I need to create separate backup tasks for "Macintosh HD" and "Macintosh HD - Data"?"


Select your startup disk from the menu of available volumes for the source.

Select the Source

Select the Destination

Click in the box under the DESTINATION heading to view available destinations, then select your new backup drive from the menu of available volumes for the destination.

Select the Destination

What is the meaning of the badges on the source and destination icons?

You can hover your mouse over those badges for a description of what they indicate. You can also click on these badges to change the associated settings.

Begin the backup task

Click Start. The first time you run a backup task, CCC will prompt you to grant it Full Disk Access, and also to authenticate so it can install its privileged helper tool. This helper tool is required to perform privileged tasks, e.g. to copy system settings and applications.

Begin the backup

Congratulations - your first backup is in progress!

Congratulations - your first backup is in progress!

Live Performance Chart

As CCC copies your files, you'll see a live performance chart like the one shown in the screenshot above. The white (or blue) line tracks the write rate and the green line tracks the number of files evaluated per second. Hover your mouse over the chart to see the numerical values.

The "Discovered" value indicates how many files CCC has found on the source. "Evaluated" indicates how many of those files have been evaluated to determine if they should be copied. "Copied" is the number of files copied. The estimated amount of time remaining, when available, follows the "Elapsed" value, adjacent to the 🏁 icon.

Smart Updates

If you run the same backup task again, CCC will copy only the items that have changed. There's no special setting to achieve this behavior, simply click the Start button again or configure your backup task to run automatically on a scheduled basis.

Task icons

CCC uses the following icons to describe tasks in the CCC sidebar:

  • This item is a CCC task (task hasn't run, or the last result was dismissed)
  • This item is a CCC task group (group hasn't run, or the last result was dismissed)
  • Last event result: Task completed successfully
  • Last event result: The task completed, but errors occurred while transferring some files
  • Last event result: An error occurred that prevented the task from completing
  • This task is configured to run "When the source is modified" (blue: monitoring is active, yellow: monitoring is suspended)
  • This task is waiting (e.g. for another task to complete, for the destination to reappear, or for AC power to be restored)

Last event result icons: If you select the task or group, you can click on that icon in the Task Plan to dismiss the status, i.e. to express, "I have acknowledged this result".

Related Documentation