Can I back up one computer and use the clone to restore another computer?

This article is for an older version of CCC. You can find the latest version here.
Product: 
ccc3

As long as the architectures match (e.g. intel vs. ppc), then the answer is **probably yes**. However, there are two caveats.

  1. Some of your preferences on OS X are considered "host-specific." Preferences such as these will be ignored if you boot your cloned operating system and data from another machine. For example, the screen saver preferences are host-specific -- if you boot another machine from your bootable clone and the screen saver kicks in, you will notice that it has reverted to default settings. Do not fear that you have lost any data, your original preferences will be "restored" when you boot again from your original computer. To learn exactly what preferences are host-specific, navigate in the Finder to your home directory, then to Library/Preferences/ByHost.
  2. Don't install older versions of Mac OS than what comes with your computer. When you get a brand new Mac from Apple, it usually has a specific version of OS X installed on it, and further, a specific "build" number. If you install an older version or build of the OS, for example by cloning your older Mac to it, then it may behave unexpectedly. When migrating your old Mac to your new Mac, be sure that your old Mac has been updated to at least one later release than what came on the new Mac. For example, if your new Mac came with 10.4.7, update your old Mac to 10.4.8 before migrating. If such an update is not available, use the Migration Assistant instead.

Determining whether this type of clone will work for you is really easy — simply boot the destination Mac from the source Mac or from a backup of the source Mac:

  1. If both the source Mac and the destination Mac have Firewire ports, boot the source Mac into Target Disk Mode by holding down the "T" key on startup, then attach the source Mac to the destination Mac with a Firewire cable. If not, attach a backup of the source Mac (or the source Mac's hard drive in an external hard drive enclosure) to the destination Mac with a Firewire or USB cable.
  2. On the destination Mac, open the Startup Disk preference pane in the System Preferences application and set the source Mac's volume as the startup disk, then click the Restart button.

If the destination Mac booted from the source Mac's installation of OS X, launch CCC then clone the source Mac's disk to the destination Mac's internal hard drive. If the destination Mac could not boot from the source Mac's installation of OS X, use the Migration Assistant to transfer your user data and applications instead.

Apple Kbase #HT2186: Don't install older versions of Mac OS than what comes with your computer
Apple Kbase #HT2681: What's a "computer-specific OS X release"?