We posted our Catalina-certified build of CCC way back in August, so the last few weeks have been eerily calm. Now that Apple has made the OS release schedule so consistent, we find this time of year to be a lot less stressful by simply being ready for it, on time. Since about Catalina Beta 9, the OS has been feeling pretty polished and ready for prime time. I think I have just one gripe with Catalina — Spotlight is so persistently annoying when it prevents volume unmount requests! That's a pretty trivial complaint though, and easy enough to work around. On the whole, Catalina seems to be working pretty well, and CCC is 100% ready to make bootable backups of the new read-only System volume and its Data volume sibling. If you're wondering what those are, we put together an article to explain how the new System/Data volume group works:
Working with APFS Volume Groups
Getting Ready to Upgrade to Catalina
Before you upgrade to Catalina, it is important to understand that downgrading to your previous OS will be impossible without a bootable backup of the previous OS. Before you apply the upgrade, we recommend that you establish a bootable backup of your current OS on an external USB or Thunderbolt hard drive, then verify that you can boot your Mac from that backup disk. Before you pull the trigger on the upgrade, detach that external disk from your Mac and set it aside. This is a really simple step that you can do to save potentially a lot of headache in the future. And you need a backup anyway right? Make it a CCC bootable backup.
For more detailed advice on preparing for the upgrade and instructions on how to downgrade, check out this CCC knowledgebase article:
Best practices for updating your Mac's OS
When should I upgrade?
As with every major upgrade, I recommend that any users that rely heavily upon the availability of their Mac for work or other productivity consider waiting for at least one OS update before making the upgrade. The early releases are exciting, but with any excitement there's usually a bit of risk. Early adopters will surely find some shortcomings and bugs which will be resolved in the next month or so with minor OS updates. Does this upgrade fix a problem that causes me daily grief? Will this upgrade improve my productivity or security, outweighing the time I may have to invest in fixing early-adopter problems? Those are the key questions I ask myself before applying any upgrade.
What should I expect after I have upgraded? How will my backups be affected?
In most cases, you don't have to do anything special once you're ready to resume your backups on macOS Catalina. The logistics of making the backup are definitely a lot more complicated than they were for Mojave, but we've worked really hard to make most of that transparent. If your backup volume is currently formatted using Apple's legacy HFS+ filesystem format, CCC will automatically convert that to APFS when you run your first backup task (after getting your approval, naturally).
If your bootable backup is encrypted, there is a little bit of prep work to be done. CCC has to create a volume group at the destination, and we can't do that with a volume that is already encrypted. In those cases, CCC will proactively let you know exactly what needs to be done to proceed with the backup. Once the backup is up to date, you can re-enable FileVault on the destination. After that, you're all set.
Our team is primed and ready to help you with any upgrade-related questions or concerns, so please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're just a click away – choose "Ask a question" from CCC's Help menu.