Your Mac has become instrumental: iPhoto contains your baby photos, iTunes houses a diverse collection of music, and Mail has all your email. And then, one day, without fanfare or warning, your hard drive keels over and dies. Disk repair tools do nothing, forcing you to send the drive to a costly recovery company.

Had you regularly backed up, this wouldn’t be a problem, but few people do. Backup tools can be impenetrable, and even the best of them, such as SuperDuper!, have odd interface components. However, with version 3, the previously somewhat geeky Carbon Copy Cloner has truly come of age. Its interface is extremely straightforward; within seconds, you can select a source and target, hit Clone and start creating a bootable backup of your hard drive (or a clone of any other drive).

Peel the onion...

Where Carbon Copy Cloner excels is in its onion-like layers. Delve deeper and there’s always more fine-tuning you can do. Instead of copying an entire drive, you can copy selected items only, and advanced options enable you to create filters based on file extensions.

The selected items only option also provides access to smart backup capabilities, which synchronise a source and target, only copying new items and thereby massively increasing back-up speed. A scheduler enables backups to be performed at certain times, and if your Mac is sleeping, tasks begin when it wakes.

Unfortunately, Carbon Copy Cloner 3.0 has some issues that stop it getting a MacFormat Choice award: incremental backups didn’t work on one of our test machines (full clones were instead done) and cloning to disk images is problematic. However, the utility is otherwise top-notch and comes recommended – just be wary during the first couple of incremental backups.