SuperDuper 2.0.1, by Shirt-Pocket Software
Posted: 7-Jan-2006

5 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Shirt-Pocket Software Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Mark Bazrod Class: PRODUCTIVITY
$27.95   Download

SuperDuper is shareware backup software for the Mac, and it does much more than backups. It makes a clone which is bootable, if desired; makes a "Safety Clone"; can backup everything or just the folders or files you designate; and can do an incremental backup of just the changed files. Yet at the same time, it's easy to understand and easy to use! It works with Tiger. The cost of this software is only $27.95 from
Shirt-Pocket Software. You can download for free a version that clones your drive, but it doesn't have the extra features.

You need Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later (Panther or Tiger). OS 9 users need to go elsewhere. SuperDuper will not back up to CDs, DVDs or Tape. If you want a bootable backup, you'll need an internal or external FireWire drive.

Setup and Installation
To install SuperDuper, just go to, locate the Download button, click and download the disk image, and when it automatically opens, drag the application and User's guide's files to your Applications folder or wherever you like. Very simple.

In Use
I made a bootable clone by opening SuperDuper, designated the source drive as my PowerBook HD, designated the destination drive as my external drive's partition (which I named "BACKUP MONTHLY DUPLICATION"), choose the "Backup - all files" option, and hit the "Copy Now" button. That's it.

SuperDuper main window

NOTE: The drive specification for source and destination can be any partition of the internal or external drive, and for destination, I could have also specified to make a disk image.

In fact, SuperDuper tells you what's going to happen before you backup so you can change your selection before the program goes to work. Thus, you can see if you've made the wrong selection of the source, the destination, which files you're backing up, and which backup method you will be using. The other backup option is "Backup-user files" which only backs up the user's Home folder. When this option is selected, other directories and files, including applications, will not be backed up.

Once a backup has been performed, SuperDuper provides the following options for subsequent backups:

  • Erase the files from the destination drive and copy everything again from the source.
  • Do a Smart Update, which copies only files that are new or changed since the last clone, and deletes any files that were removed from the source since the last clone (this is much faster than the first option).
  • Copy only files that are newer (have a more recent modification date), but not deleting any files that were removed from the source since the last clone.
  • Copy only files that are different (not necessarily newer) in date, size, attributes, etc., but not deleting any files that were removed from the source since the last clone.

SuperDuper - General Options

The Safety Clone option (also called a Sandbox) is something I've never seen before. A Safety Clone is a bootable copy of your system files and Apple apps which shares all other files and non-Apple apps with your source drive. Thus, the great advantage of the Safety clone is that you can safely install system updates on the Safety Clone without concern. If there is a problem with the update, simply boot from the source drive. Changes to non-system files which you made while using the Safety Clone are preserved on the source drive. Your work is not lost. If no problem, simply update your source drive, but now you know it's safe.

SuperDuper - Sandbox

The first option is entitled "Sandbox-shared users and applications". As the name indicates, the Safety Clone option shares all Home folder and 3rd party apps with the source drive (your Mac).

A second option for the Safety Clone is the "Sandbox-shared users" which only excludes your Home folders. Thus, the Safety Clone includes OS X and all your apps. This is my choice because I don't want the aggravation of installing apps, Apple or otherwise, and their updates if there is a problem, but it does take up much more disk space. However, disk space is relatively cheap. Where this feature really proves powerful is when you are going to install a new OS or app or an update. First boot from the Safety Clone so that if a problem arises, you can go back to the original drive, which will contain all the files you worked on since the clone was made. If no problem, just copy simple apps from the clone to the original drive and for more complex apps (ones with installers), just install on the original drive using the installer.

A nice little feature of SuperDuper is that it asks you if you want to repair permissions in Apple's Disk Utility before you backup. It's accessed from the Option button on the screen that tells you what's about to happen. I like it because, if set, it will will run each time a scheduled backup is run - and I otherwise don't repair permissions enough.

SuperDuper also permits you to schedule your backups so that they are performed automatically. When you setup a backup on the main screen, there is a Schedule button which takes you to a screen where you can set the time (weeks of the month, days of the week, and time of day) for the backup to occur. Since discipline to performs backups is something we sometimes lack, this feature is a real benefit. If you have several different backup copy tasks which you perform on a regular basis, you can save the settings for each backup.

SuperDuper, like many other backup utilities, only provides you with the latest version of your files. It does not permit you to preserve a picture of your hard drive at different times, i.e., an incremental archive. To remedy this, I made 3 partitions on my external drive--- one for backup in even months, one for backup in odd months, and one for the Safety Clone.

SuperDuper vs Retrospect
Both SuperDuper and Retrospect provide versatile backup tools, including features for scheduling backups. Retrospect's toolset may be more advanced, with some extra options that SuperDuper does not support, but for my needs, I find that SuperDuper is simpler, more understandable, less expensive, has better support, and has the Safety Clone feature. The latter is a real benefit that Retrospect does not include.

SuperDuper is my favorite backup software for the Mac. It let's you choose whether to back up just your data files, just Apple applications, all your applications, or all your files. It can make an incremental backup of just the changed files, and it can make a bootable clone ("Safety Clone") which permits you to install new applications on the clone without affecting your main system. The latter feature is super for installing upgrades and testing them to see if they are safe. SuperDuper is easy to understand and easy to use, and works with OS 10.3.9 and higher. You can download SuperDuper for free to try it out (the free version does not have all options enabled). I highly recommend SuperDuper for every Mac user.


  • Efficient, easy to understand and use
  • Makes a bootable clone
  • Incremental updates
  • Safety Clone makes installs and updates safer


  • No support for incremental archives

Overall Rating

5 out of 5 Mice