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Frankenmac 2017: How to back up a hackintosh

After last week’s temporary death of Frankenmac, I decided it was important to back up the machine—even though I haven’t yet migrated my data to it. Having a backup would let me quickly recover from any future self-induced stupidity. Backing up a hackintosh is generally the same as backing up a regular Mac, with one key exception: Making sure you back up the EFI partition, which is where are the special bits are stored to make your hackintosh boot.

Here’s what I did to make sure I had a bootable backup of Frankenmac…

Step 1: Prepare the backup drive

Format an external hard drive with a GUID Partition Map—this will create an invisible EFI partition on the drive, which is required for a Hackintosh backup. Use Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for the data partition.

Step 2: Clone the data drive

Use your favorite cloning tool of choice—I use Carbon Copy Cloner—to clone your hackintosh data drive to your backup. This step is no different than a normal Mac backup. You should also create the recovery partition, if your backup software does that for you (CCC does).

Step 3: Mount the EFI partitions

For the next step, you’ll need to mount the EFI partition for both the hacktinosh and the backup drive. You can either do this via Terminal, or using the handy EFI Mounter GUI app (free account required to download).

If you’re using EFI Mounter, after providing your admin password, you’ll see a window like this:

That shot is from my iMac, which has many drives attached. On your hackintosh, you’ll probably just have two. It doesn’t matter which order you mount them in, so mount one, relaunch EFI Mounter, and mount the other.

Step 4: Copy the EFI folder to the backup’s EFI partition

One of the two mounted EFI partitions will contain a folder named EFI. Copy that entire folder—drag-copy in Finder should work fine—to the backup drive’s empty EFI folder.

Step 5: Unmount the EFI partitions

Do this via Terminal, or using EFI Mounter and its Unmount button. As before, you’ll need to run the app twice to handle both EFI partitions.

Step 6: Test your backup!

This is probably the most important step. Restart your hackintosh, and when the Clover boot loader appears, select your newly-cloned drive as the boot device:

If all goes well, you’ll soon be greeted by a clone of your hackintosh. Confirm that you booted from the clone by checking the About window:

Wrapping it all up

Once you’ve done this backup once, things are easier going forward: You don’t need to update the EFI partition unless you do something to modify your EFI…and for me, once I get this machine fully configured, I don’t intend to touch that partition again unless it’s absolutely required!

13 Comments

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  1. Surprised that CCC will make a recovery partition – but won’t make an EFI partition nor copy over the /EFI folder onto it?

    Eagerly waiting to hear further reports on your Hackintosh configuration efforts. I’ve done a couple of these – back in the bad old pre-Clover days – and getting the niggling bits of audio, wifi, Bluetooth and iCloud functionality working bedeviled me.

  2. I don’t think this actually works as you intended. I think you’re using the OLD Clover bootloader from the pre-existing drive to boot. By copying over the contents of one EFI folder to another, I don’t think you’ve actually installed a bootloader onto the new drive.

    Have you?

    Can you boot the system WITHOUT the old drive connected?

    Thanks!

    1. You are right.

      No he hasn’t installed a bootloader onto the new drive!

      After restart it shows “no bootable device insert boot disk and press any key” you have to instal Clover EFI bootloader on this new drive .

  3. Hey, thank you Rob!

    It worked flawlessly on a P9X79-E WS Hackintosh running Clover, Sierra with XEON 3 GHZ 10 Core and two Nvidia GTX 770.
    Now I just need to figure out how I get the 2nd Cinema 27″ LED Screen working on that Setup. Any ideas?

    1. What’s your problem with the second display? I had an issue where my screens would go black instead of going to the login screen. I had to enable CSM support in the BIOS

    2. Hi chrism,

      would you be so kind and pass some tips for stable Sierra installation on P9X79 E WS? I have this motherboard (with working Mavericks) But I’m trying new Sierra install and I can not cope :(

  4. Worked great for me. The first time I forgot to read ahead and copy the EFI and recovery. Once I redid that it worked fine. Wanted to make sure the TP Link WIFI adapter would work with my Hackintosh without screwing it up. So made a backup and booted into it and got the WIFI adapter working fine. Went ahead into my main install and installed the drivers with Kextbeast onto the main drive and got WIFI working. Now I have the main bootup and a bootable backup without any USB drive which is great.

    My Hackintosh is:

    Gigabyte GA-B75M-D3P
    i5-3750k
    16GB DDR3
    EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB FTW
    High Sierra with 10.13.3 supplemental update

    Thanks,

    Brad

  5. Thank you for that guide :)) Worked like a charm, now i have a working El Cap OS and can now safely attempt to update to Sierra. I only update to Sierra to be able to install a TB card that works for my Antelope Audio D8 Interface’s TB connection. On EL Cap that’s sadly not possible, as i had to learn.
    Do you have a guide to update from El Cap to Sierra via App Store?
    Have a good day and thanks again:))

    1. I don’t, as I started with Sierra, but you could probably find the answer in one of the forums on the sites I linked in other FrankenMac articles.

      regards;
      -rob.

  6. Worked like a charm for me. Swapped my spinning drive for an SSD, and everything was perfect (just much faster) once I swapped the drives over.

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