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Restoring individual files from a backup

Drag and drop via the Finder

How to find and restore individual files and folders from your CCC backup

You can restore individual items from your backup volume in the Finder via drag and drop — simply find that item on the backup disk, then drag it back to your startup disk. If the item you're looking for is hidden, or resides in a hidden folder, you can press Command+Shift+Period to toggle the Finder's display of hidden items.

If you would like to restore an older version of a file, you can restore that from a CCC snapshot (what's a snapshot?). Select your destination volume in CCC's sidebar, then double-click on a snapshot to reveal the snapshot in the Finder. The snapshot is mounted read-only, so it is impossible for you to make any harmful modifications to the snapshot. If you would like to restore a single item, you can simply drag the item from the snapshot to wherever you want to restore it to.

Use the contextual menu to mount and browse snapshots

If you're trying to restore system files, applications, or perhaps everything from your backup, proceed with one of the other methods indicated below.

Restoring an older version of a backup

If you would like to restore an older version of a backup, you can restore from a snapshot on your backup disk.

  1. Click the Restore button in CCC's toolbar.
  2. Select your backup disk as the source to the task.
  3. Click on the source selector and select a specific snapshot from the "available snapshots" menu.
  4. Click on the Destination selector to select a destination volume or folder.
  5. Click the Start button to run the task.
Restoring from a snapshot

Restoring older versions of files using CCC's Snapshot Navigator

If you're planning to restore specific items, and especially if you would like to compare the contents of snapshots or look for a specific version of a file, you can use CCC's Snapshot Navigator:

CCC's Snapshot Navigator
  1. Click the Restore button in CCC's toolbar
  2. Select a source volume, or a specific folder from your backup disk if you're restoring just a particular folder
  3. Click on the Task Filter button at the bottom of the window to open the snapshot navigation interface
  4. Click the Include button in the toolbar to set the Default Filter Behavior to Define what is included
  5. Find the version of your files and folders that you would like to restore (see below for additional detail)
  6. Check the boxes next to the items that you want to restore
  7. Click the Done button
  8. Click on the Destination selector to select a destination volume or folder
  9. If you're not restoring the entire backup, click on the Destination selector and choose "Don't delete anything" from the SafetyNet submenu
  10. Click the Start button to run the task

In the Task Filter window, use the slider to select specific snapshots. Alternatively, select an individual file that you're interested in restoring, then use the arrow buttons at the ends of the slider to navigate to previous and next versions of the file. When you have found the version of the item you would like to restore, you can either right-click on the item to reveal it in the Finder (then drag and drop the file to wherever you'd like to restore it to), or you can configure the task filter to restore specific items to a selected destination.

Restoring files to your destination from a SafetyNet Snapshot

SafetyNet is a mechanism that is designed to protect files on your destination volume from accidental deletion. If you errantly selected the wrong volume as a destination, or if you were storing files on your destination that were unrelated to the source data set and you're now missing those files, you can restore those files to your destination from a SafetyNet Snapshot.

  1. Open CCC and select the affected destination volume from CCC's sidebar.
  2. Select the applicable SafetyNet Snapshot in the snapshots table.
  3. Click the Restore... button.
  4. Verify the settings of the task that CCC creates for you, then click the Start button.

When you proceed with this restore task, CCC will copy the files from the snapshot back to your selected destination. Keep in mind that CCC cannot delete the snapshot that holds the files that you're restoring prior to restoring those files to the destination. As a result, the destination must have enough additional free space to accommodate a copy of all of the files that you're restoring. In some cases, it may not be practical to restore files back to the original destination, you may need to recover them to another disk first.

Related Documentation:

Using Migration Assistant to restore your startup disk from a CCC backup

You can use Migration Assistant to migrate data from a CCC backup on locally-attached storage to a clean installation of macOS. Follow these steps to reinstall macOS and restore your data:

  1. Boot your Mac while holding down Command+R (Intel Macs) or the Power button (Apple Silicon Macs) to boot into Recovery Mode.
  2. Use Disk Utility to erase your Mac's (new) internal disk as APFS (see this Kbase article for additional guidance).
  3. Quit Disk Utility.
  4. Select the Reinstall macOS option and proceed to install macOS onto your new disk.
  5. When macOS boots for the first time on your new disk, you will be prompted to migrate data — accept the migration offer.
  6. When prompted to select a source for the migration, select your CCC backup volume† and proceed as directed by Migration Assistant.

Big Sur (and older OSes): Migration Assistant won't list volumes that are encrypted and locked (i.e. not mounted), and won't helpfully offer any UI for unlocking and mounting those volumes. If you would like to migrate data from an encrypted volume, proceed with creating a new user account instead. After logging in, you'll be prompted to unlock the volume, and then you can open Migration Assistant (Applications > Utilities > Migration and proceed with the migration.

Migration Assistant will not accept a backup on NAS storage as a source for migration. Use the method described below to restore files and folders from a NAS backup.

Related Documentation

Working around Migration Assistant restrictions

There are a handful of cases where Migration Assistant will not accept a volume as a source for migrating content. For example, if you have a volume that is formatted as case-sensitive, Migration Assistant will not allow you to migrate content from that volume to a case-insensitive-formatted startup disk. Likewise, if any user account resources are missing from the volume (e.g. because they were excluded from the backup, or because they are damaged), Migration Assistant will not accept it as a source. CCC can help with these cases.

  1. If you're currently proceeding through the first-boot Setup Assistant, decline the migration offer and instead proceed to create a new user account.
  2. Open Disk Utility
  3. Choose "Show all devices" from the View menu
  4. Select the startup disk (any volume associated with the startup disk, or its parent container)
  5. Click the "+" button in the toolbar to add a new volume. Name it "Macintosh", or something like that (something that you can live with long-term).
  6. Open CCC and configure a new task to restore your backup to the "Macintosh" volume (You may also restore an older version of your backup)
  7. When the task has completed, install macOS onto the "Macintosh" volume
  8. When the macOS installation is complete, go back to Disk Utility and delete the "Macintosh HD" volume group to free up the space that it's using.

Restoring your startup disk from a legacy bootable backup

These instructions are only applicable to macOS Catalina. We recommend that you use the instructions in this previous section to restore the startup disk on a Mac running Big Sur or later.

1. Boot your Mac from the backup disk

Attach the backup disk to your Mac using a USB or Thunderbolt cable.

Hold down the Option key as you start up your Mac. Your backup disk should appear as a startup disk option in the Startup Manager.

Note: If you cannot boot your Mac from your backup disk, use the alternate procedure documented above.

2. Prepare the disk that you're restoring to

Unless you're restoring just a handful of individual files, we recommend that you restore your backup to a freshly-formatted disk. See Preparing your backup disk for a backup of macOS for complete instructions on how to format the destination. Please note that this is especially important when restoring a macOS startup disk.

3. Open CCC

When your Mac has finished restarting, open CCC. Applications > Carbon Copy Cloner

Note: When you open CCC on your backup volume, CCC will prompt to guide you in setting up a restore task, in which case the instructions here are redundant. If you decline this offer, CCC will indicate that your regularly-scheduled tasks are suspended. If prompted, choose the option to leave your tasks suspended. Likewise, choose "Revert changes" if prompted to save your tasks.

Open CCC

4. Create a New Restore Task

Click the Restore button in the toolbar or choose New Restore Task from the Tasks menu.

Create a New Task

5. Select the Source

Click on the icon in the Source box to view available sources. Click to select your backup volume as the Source. You do not need to create a separate restore task to restore the System and Data volumes, CCC will restore both volumes.

6. Select the Destination

Click on the icon in the Destination box to view available destinations. Click to select the volume that you want to restore to.

Select the Destination

7. Click Start

Click the Start button in the lower-right corner to start the restore task.

Click Start

8. Reset the Startup Disk

Open the Startup Disk Preference Pane

After the restore is finished, choose Startup Disk from CCC's Utilities menu, click the padlock icon at the bottom of the window to authenticate, then reset the startup disk to your original startup disk and restart your computer.

Reset the startup disk

Related Documentation

Restoring from a data backup on a NAS or network share

To restore data from a folder on a NAS volume:

  1. Close all applications and all Finder windows
  2. Open CCC and click the Restore button in CCC's toolbar to create a new restore task
  3. Drag the folder that you would like to restore from the network share onto CCC's Source selector
  4. Create a new folder at the location where you would like to restore data
  5. Drag that new, empty folder onto CCC's Destination selector
  6. Click the Start button