Mac Backups and Local WordPress: A Reading List

Originally published on August 25th, 2016, at
Republished at on March 10th, 2017.
Added to on October 31st, 2017. Also edited to fix a link.

Consider this a link dump.

I spent last weekend, plus Monday, getting my iMac set up so that I can work on building/customizing WordPress themes offline — in part because it’s embarrassing for you to see my work in progress; in part because I don’t know what I’m doing, and I need some room to play; and in part because my host,, doesn’t offer an ooey-gooey file manager, and it’s a pain in the ass uploading the same file over and over, especially if I’m working via Terminal and have to keep switching back and forth between SFTP and SSH.

In any case, useful links have been the thing for the past week or so, and they’ve been sooooooo useful that I thought I would share them with you.

Understand that I didn’t start at the start. Oh, no.

I started with getting my iMac backed up, just in case something went horribly, horribly wrong when I started messing with Apache and installing MySQL (and it’ll always be “My Squull” to me) and adding in command line tools. That meant 1. finally setting up Time Machine, and 2. creating a bootable clone of my drive.

Please also understand that I didn’t know anything about either Time Machine or cloning drives before I decided to do these things, so I read multiple sources before getting started. In the end, I used a trial of Carbon Copy Cloner to do the cloning, because my attempt to clone my drive via Disk Utility failed. Carbon Copy Cloner worked great, however. (Note: If you go this route, at the end, when CCC asks if you’d like to update the recovery partition, your answer should be “Yes!”)

My advice to you, if you decide to back up your Mac after years of neglect and a willful lack of know-how, is that you read the following articles, too:

Cult of Mac: How (and Why) to Clone Your Mac Hard Drive

Backblaze: How to Back Up Your Mac

MakeUseOf: Partition & Use Your Time Machine Hard Drive to Store Files Too

OSXDaily: Use a Single External Hard Drive for Time Machine Backups and File Storage

Please note that, if you’re running El Capitan (and I hope you are), the Disk Utility used in these articles is going to look different from the Disk Utility you’ll be using. The “Restore” option is now tucked away inside the “Edit” menu.

If you aren’t interested in developing locally on your Mac, you’re done with this article. If you’ve read the articles above, made sure you understood them — as a whole — and followed their instructions, you should have Mac backups two ways. The rest of this post deals with the second aspect of my days-long project: getting WordPress running on my Mac.

The easy way to set up a development environment, of course, would be by using Mamp or Xampp to install and configure Apache, MySQL/MariaDB, and PHP. But modern Macs comes with Apache pre-installed, those apps aren’t really needed to get an AMP stack running, and learning is good!

So, another set of articles:

Chris Mallinson: The Perfect Web Development Environment for Your New Mac

Jason McCreary: Installing Apache, PHP, and MySQL on OS X El Capitan

Karvel Digital: Setting Up a WordPress Development Environment on Mac OS

Coolest Guides on the Planet: Get Apache, MySQL, PHP and phpMyAdmin working on OS X 10.11 El Capitan

ITMUSTBE: A fresh OS X El Capitan install plus theming workflow using AMP, Node, Yeoman, and WordPress

The WP Guru: How to install MySQL on Mac OS X El Capitan

Be aware that there was more information than I needed in this collection of articles, but there was still information that I needed in each one. This was, for me, a matter of hobbling together the useful bits, discarding the rest, and eventually getting to what worked. There may have been missteps along the way: I’m not sure why I have Homebrew installed (perhaps my brief flirtation with Jekyll…), I may or may not have installed MariaDB, and phpMyAdmin tells me that my MySQL installation isn’t secure.

Getting a working, local WordPress installation set up was far more confusing than backing up my Mac was.

But I can theme in private, now, or practice PHP locally, outside of WordPress, to get a better understanding of the language. I can experiment with CSS until I get it to do the things I want it to do. I can use WordPress to build a site for private, offline use.

And Apache and MySQL both get shut down when I’m not actively using them.

My advice to other Mac-users with more desire than knowledge is to read all of the articles in the list, compare and contrast, figure out what you do and don’t need, and patch your method together from that.