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Awhile ago, I wrote an article on how to create a "Sandbox" using ShirtPocket's SuperDuper.  I use a Sandbox every time I test beta software or when upgrading OS software. I don't like to break software that is working just fine, if I don't have to.

Creating and using a Sandbox can be easier than you think and immensely helpful to keep your workflow flowing.

I thought I'd share the updated article on our blog.

If you want to make a complete bootable backup copy of your hard drive, SuperDuper is the application to use. And why would you want this? Well, let’s see. You could accidentally delete a file that you need. Even worse, you could accidentally delete a file that your computer needs. Or, how about your hard drive could die tomorrow and if you don’t have a backup, you are hosed.

If you need more reasons, please read Cal's blog on Friday. The topic is "Backups"

if you think your drive couldn’t die that fast, let me be an example. Once upon a time, my drive made a weird sound. After hearing it, I thought, “Hmmm, I didn’t run the backup last night because (insert your lame inexcusable excuse here).” I immediately launched SuperDuper to back up my drive. Ten minutes after the backup finished my drive died. The computer flickered, the screen went black, then no sound, no light, nothin’, dead.

The above reasons alone make SuperDuper indispensable. Now, on automatic, SuperDuper is set to run every night. Repeat, every night. But there are a few more features that SuperDuper sports that are pure genius as well. One is the ‘Sandbox.’

First, imagine this very real scenario. Your system runs just fine. All your software has been updated to be compatible with your OS. All your externals work (printer, scanner, etc.). So when you turn on your computer, you are happy because everything just works. Then along comes – the big OS update. The first thing you might think is “Great, new features to look forward to.” Then reality sets in and you might think, “What will break when I install this update? Which software and which hardware won’t work properly or at all? When will such-and-such upgrade their software? Will such-and-such upgrade their software?”
 
Real questions, that may seem minor to some, but cause companies large and small to hold off on updates. Especially, if they are in the middle of important projects. Or hold off for even the lesser reasons of ‘If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.’ Or ‘My equipment works with this software, I don’t know if I can afford to upgrade.’

So, what is a Sandbox? A Sandbox is a bootable copy of your original OS, copied to another hard drive (internal/external) or partition. Once a Sandbox is created, you would restart your computer with the Sandbox selected as the startup volume, then run the OS updates on the Sandbox. With this, only the Sandbox is effected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sandbox (with the new OS), has access to and shares all of the computer content (user files, info, apps, etc.) with your original (unaffected) OS. You can now run your applications and hardware from the Sandbox, to see if there are any conflicts.

Because all of the computer content is shared between the original OS and the updated OS on the Sandbox, if a file is opened, edited and saved, this is the original file being edited. Any changes to files are real no matter which OS you decide to startup from. This allows you to carry on with normal work conditions, while seeing if the new OS on the Sandbox is stable under your normal work routine. No loss of time or duplication of work effort, you still keep going as you had been.

There are two options to create your Sandbox.

‘Sandbox – shared users and applications’ which doesn’t copy your User data or any applications other than Apple provided applications.

Then, there is ‘Sandbox – shared users’ which doesn’t copy your User data, but does copy everything else.

The former is considered the better choice. 
When I created my Sandbox, I noted a beloved third-party software that I used everyday, would have to be left behind, it wouldn’t work in the new OS. There was a Wacom tablet that now didn’t work, but once a newer driver was downloaded, it functioned just fine.

The newly download driver downloads into the Sandbox OS, not the original OS. So, when going back to the original startup drive, this driver will not be present.

A Sandbox allows you to take the time to run your applications and peripherals in an updated OS without changing your original OS. If there are conflicts with the new OS that make updating unreasonable on your original OS at this time, you needn’t worry. Your original OS has not been touched. And you’ve just breathed a big sigh of relief because there’s no restore, archive and install, no aspirin to take. Simply restart with your original drive selected as the startup drive, and you are now safely back where you started, and happy.

If you find no conflicts, resolve conflicts, or find no items that are show-stoppers, you can update your original OS. Either way the end result is still, happy.

SuperDuper by ShirtPocket is a free and paid ($27.95) version. Get the paid version. It will be the best money you could ever spend to keep your content safe (accessible and happy).

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  • Tomas Jones

    Thanks so much for this! I am a believer in the Sandbox. Why, you ask? Because, after a big Quicktime/iTunes/Java update, my audio output started having problems. I had a backup, so disaster was avoided. (Did I mention that I am an Audio Engineer, and good audio output is essential to my job)

    Cheers, TJ