ccc, APFS

Resuming your bootable backups after upgrading to High Sierra

The time for betas is over! High Sierra is here. APFS is here. We're ready for both, and we've got you covered. APFS, HFS, encrypted, not encrypted, FileVault – whatever your source or destination, we support all of these combinations in CCC 5. We've tested so many different scenarios, we put the results into a chart to keep track of them.

"Can I continue to back up to an HFS+ volume, or do I have to erase the backup disk as APFS?"

Over the last day or so, we've been getting this question a lot from folks that have upgraded to High Sierra. This new filesystem has generated so much confusion, we even got the question, "Can I still back up to an HD platter-based disk?" We expected some concern about what's supported on each end, but the lack of support and readiness for all of these combinations from other products is causing even more confusion than we anticipated.

My answer is that all of these configurations work with CCC 5, and that you don't have to change how your destination is formatted. CCC 5 automatically archives the special boot volumes associated with an APFS source, and automatically populates them, as necessary, if you have an APFS destination (even if the source is HFS!). We specifically tested all of these scenarios and set up a "command central" for our testing and for reporting issues that we're seeing that are specific to macOS High Sierra:

High Sierra Testing and Known Issues [Link removed, out of date]

I hope that chart goes a long way toward relieving concerns about what is an acceptable source and destination format for your High Sierra backups. But just to reiterate:

  • CCC can clone your High Sierra SSD to an SSD or an HDD that is formatted as either HFS or APFS.
  • CCC can restore an HFS-formatted High Sierra backup to an APFS or HFS volume.
  • CCC can make bootable APFS backups.
  • CCC can make bootable HFS backups.
  • You can mix and match APFS and HFS sources and destinations – CCC will make the destination bootable.

CCC handles the special APFS "helper" volumes seamlessly, and quietly

Only CCC has supported Recovery HD archiving and cloning since Apple introduced that special volume in OS X Lion five years ago. The semantics for creating and populating those volumes are a bit different for APFS, but these special APFS helper volumes are very similar to the HFS Recovery HD volume. As a result, our intellectual and technical investment that we made in recovery volume support over the last five years has paid off. We were able to add support for APFS helper volume archiving and creation fairly quickly, and we spent the bulk of the summer on testing this functionality between filesystem types. Support for APFS helper volumes in CCC 5 is even more transparent than recovery HD cloning – there's no separate task, no followup chores; CCC automatically creates and updates the APFS helper volumes as necessary.

We also had time to add support for other features of APFS, like APFS encryption. If you provide your encrypted volume password to CCC, CCC can automatically unlock and mount your encrypted volumes when your backup tasks run. We've been testing APFS snapshot functionality as well, though as I indicated earlier in the summer, the documentation on that functionality is still pretty weak, and I'm not yet convinced that it's mature enough to test it on my end users' systems.

Our High Sierra and APFS-specific Resources

Over the last couple weeks we've poured a lot of effort into updating our documentation and support resources that are specific to High Sierra and APFS. These new videos and "best practices" documents will help you navigate your way through the upgrade process:

We're here to help

If you get stuck or need some advice, you can get help right from within CCC. Choose "Ask a question" from CCC's Help menu to get in touch with our Help Desk.