Time Machine Recovery to New Disk Results

Having seen the option to restore from a Time Machine back-up using the Migration Assistant, I decided to do a fresh install of 10.5.1, then give the Migration Assistant route a go since I knew the restore from Time Machine backup option in the install utilities menu has already been proven to work well.

Once I formatted my replacement drive (a 320GB Seagate “7200.10”, exactly like the drive it was replacing) and taken care of the fresh install, the usual welcome screen launched and my registration info was pre-populated with the data I had entered the first time I registered. Once past the registration screen, the Migration Assistant appeared. I selected the “from a Time Machine backup” option, then clicked “Continue”. I was then prompted to select which items I would like to transfer (choices were “Users”, with the option to select only certain users, “Network and other settings”, “Application folder”, and “Files and folders on ‘Mac OS’”). I selected all options and clicked “Transfer”. All in all, I had 73.2 GB worth of data to transfer, which took around an hour.

So far, the only oddity I’ve run across was the “Tranfser Warnings and Errors.rtf” file that appeared on my desktop after the restore alerting me that I may need to re-install “Norton Utilities”. What’s odd about that is that I had never previously installed it or anything from Norton or Symantec in the first place.

Everything I was concerned about losing is still here (including some prefs and even browser cookies for the eleventy billion sites for which I was dreading having to re-enter login info). iTunes still knew who I was, iPhoto libraries were intact, and Adobe apps were still activated.

Two nice benefits I see so far to using the Migration Assistant restore option instead of the whole shootin’ match route from the aforementioned system install utilities menu:

    1. You get a chance to do a fresh install (which means you also get a chance to apply the latest version of the available updates - a good thing since Apple has pulled and reissued updated updaters a time or two in recent history).
    2. Restore time doesn’t seem as dreadfully long since the restore step is only restoring your data, settings and applications and not the entire OS, log files, caches, etc.

One tip when you’re done restoring (and happy with the results) is to make sure you remember to re-enable Time Machine, as mine was disabled after the restore. Also, if possible, buy a back-up drive for Time Machine use only that has at least double the capacity of the drive(s) you wish to back up. Once you’ve turned Time Machine back on, be sure to visit the options panel to be certain you’re backing up all the drives you want to back up. I have two external drives that were on the exclusion list by default, so my entire music collection wasn’t getting backed up.

Kudos to the folks at Apple responsible for Time Machine! You just saved my hide.

Boot Camp Surprise After OS X Drive Failure

So…last Friday morning, I walked into my home office, sat down at my desk, shook the mouse to wake the screens on my shiny new Mac Pro, and was greeted by a pinwheel of death which refused to go away. I turned the machine off, let it sit for a few and powered her back up, only to be greeted by what sounded like a noisy front case fan and a gray screen. No apple logo, no spinning wheel. Just a gray screen. I was in a bit of a hurry to get to the office and didn’t feel like messing with it, so I just powered it back down and picked back up where I left off once I got home that evening.

No love. Drive was toast. Couldn’t boot into single user mode. Couldn’t see it in Disk Utility after booting from the System Disk. Couldn’t choose the drive from the System Installer. Couldn’t select it to restore to. You get the picture. Toast.

I packed up the drive in a paper wine bag (since I didn’t have any static bags handy…and because I found it humorous at the time) and headed to the closest Apple Store to see if they could swap it out for me. They confirmed it was truly dead, but they didn’t have any replacements in stock, so they ordered one and informed me I’d have to go without my Mac Pro for the weekend.

Rewind to the week after I bought the machine back in March. Fortunately, the first upgrade I ordered was a 750GB drive to serve exclusively as my Time Machine back-up drive…just to be safe. Thank God. I had also purchased a copy of Vista Business…just to live dangerously, but had installed it on its own dedicated disk…just to be safe. After returning diskless from the Apple Store, I fired up my Mac Pro again, this time holding down the Option key, to see if Boot Camp would work in the absence of OS X. Well, what do ya know! It worked. Looks like Boot Camp lives on the hardware and is completely independent of OS X, so Vista booted up without a hitch and I was able to use my machine over the weekend after all…though not with OS X, which is where I prefer to work.

So far, Apple replaced the drive without any hassles and Boot Camp surprised me by working independent of OS X. Next up - Time Machine’s system restore functionality put to the test.