Note: The topics in this article are not relevant to APFS-formatted destination volumes that have CCC snapshot support enabled. For those volumes, CCC leverages snapshots to implement the SafetyNet functionality, and the snapshots aren't affected by any of the shortcomings described here. Also, bear in mind that SafetyNet is a safety mechanism, it is not designed to be part of the backup strategy. We recommend using the destination exclusively for one backup task and disabling SafetyNet.
CCC's SafetyNet folder ("_CCC SafetyNet") is excluded from CCC's backup tasks by default because it contains older versions of modified files, and files that were deleted from the source volume. Typically when you restore data from your backup volume, you will want to avoid restoring the items in this folder, choosing instead to restore the most recent backup of your files.
If there is something that you would like to restore from the CCC SafetyNet folder, a drag and drop restore in the Finder is usually the easiest way to do so. If you would like to restore many items, or merge them into an existing folder, choose Choose a folder... from CCC's Source selector and choose the folder from which you would like to restore. If you choose the _CCC SafetyNet folder as the source, note that the full path to your archived files will be preserved, e.g. 2021-07-27 (July 27) 14-11-18/Users/fred/Documents/some file.pdf. In most cases, you will want to choose a subfolder within the archives folder as your source. Likewise, choose Choose a folder... from CCC's Destination selector and select the specific folder that you want to restore items into.
When CCC evaluates the items on your destination and determines whether they should be archived or left in place, it does so on a file-by-file basis. This poses a challenge for bundle files — files that are actually a folder of files, but presented by the Finder as a single file. As a result, bundle files (e.g. applications, some types of libraries, some custom file types) may appear in an incomplete form within the CCC SafetyNet folder.
Unless all of the components within a bundle file are modified, only the items that have been updated will be present. Incomplete bundle files are generally not useful on their own, but their contents can be. For example, if you accidentally deleted a photo from your iPhoto library, you would be able to recover that lost photo from the archived iPhoto library bundle. To reveal the content of an incomplete bundle file in a CCC SafetyNet folder, right-click (or Control+click) on the item and choose Show package contents from the contextual menu.
SafetyNet is a safety mechanism, it was not designed for providing access to older versions of files. If you would like access to older versions of files on your APFS-formatted backup disk, we recommend that you enable snapshot support on that volume.
Why can't I delete some items from the SafetyNet folder? The Finder says that some items are in use.
System Integrity Protection (SIP) and filesystem problems will occasionally cause Finder to report that files in the Trash cannot be deleted because they are in use, or because they are protected. If you try to delete these items in the Terminal application, you'll get a more distinct error message, "Operation not permitted".
CCC won't have any trouble pruning the SafetyNet folder on its own during ordinary backup tasks. If you would like to remove an item from the SafetyNet manually, however, or if you would like to remove the entire folder:
- Choose Delete a SafetyNet folder from CCC's Utilities menu
- Drag the folder you want to delete onto the window that is presented. Alternatively, you can click on the drop zone in the window that is presented to make your selection from a navigation panel.
If you're still having trouble after trying that, don't hesitate to ask us for help.
If your backup volume has a "_CCC SafetyNet" folder, you can move that folder to the Trash before using Migration Assistant to avoid copying that folder during a migration. This is particularly important if that folder has a lot of data in it and you're migrating to a disk that is smaller than the backup volume. If you would like to retain the SafetyNet folder on the backup volume, don't empty the Trash. After Migration Assistant has completed, then you can move the SafetyNet folder back to the root of the backup volume.
There are three primary reasons that the SafetyNet folder will be missing or difficult to find on the destination:
An empty SafetyNet folder will be removed at the end of the backup task
If CCC finds nothing to archive over the course of the backup task, the SafetyNet archive will be empty at the end of the backup task. If CCC finds that the SafetyNet archive is empty at the end of the task, CCC will remove it. Likewise, if the "_CCC SafetyNet" folder is subsequently empty, that folder will also be removed at the end of the backup task.
The Legacy SafetyNet folder is not used when snapshots are enabled on the destination
When snapshots are enabled on an APFS-formatted destination volume, CCC will implement the SafetyNet feature using snapshots rather than placing files into a separate folder on the destination. Select your destination volume in CCC's sidebar to find these SafetyNet snapshots.
The root level of an APFS Data volume is not visible in the Finder
CCC stores the SafetyNet at the root level of the destination. When you're making a backup of macOS Catalina or later, the destination will be an APFS Volume Group, and the SafetyNet will be placed at the root level of the Data member of that group. Root-level items of the Data volume are not immediately visible in the Finder. To reveal the SafetyNet folder on an APFS volume group, right-click on your CCC Backup - Data volume (for example) in CCC's sidebar and choose the Reveal in Finder option.
I selected "Don't delete anything", why is CCC placing items in the "_CCC SafetyNet" folder on the destination?
When you select the Don't delete anything SafetyNet setting, CCC applies that setting very literally. If CCC encounters a file on the destination that must be replaced with a newer version from the source, CCC cannot delete the older version of that file that is on the destination. That older file is instead placed into the "_CCC SafetyNet" folder on the destination.
The purpose of CCC's SafetyNet pruning is to make space for additional backups. CCC also avoids pruning items that were very recently archived — after all, it wouldn't make sense to archive an item on the destination, them immediately delete it. To accommodate both of these goals, CCC prunes archives within the SafetyNet before the backup task runs. Pruning the SafetyNet immediately before copying files gives a greater level of assurance that the requested amount of free space (for example) will be available for the current backup. Be sure to consider this detail when specifying your SafetyNet pruning settings. If you want to retain additional space on your backup volume beyond what is required for your CCC backups, specify more liberal limits (e.g. 100GB of free space rather than 25GB).
No – you should expect anything that is in the "_CCC SafetyNet" folder to be deleted at some point, possibly as soon as the next backup task runs. If you would like to maintain a permanent archive of items on your backup volume, outside of your CCC backup, we recommend that you create a separate volume on your backup disk for this purpose.
We also recommend that you maintain a backup of your archived data on another volume! If you don't have a backup of your long-term archived items, you're going to lose them forever if your backup disk fails.