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Someone with a keen interest in photography, and a keen interest in learning to take better images.

Major system recovery

Great, I update to iTunes v10.5.1 and sync my iPad, everything freezes up. Something is using 100% of both CPUs and the sync is stuck trying to “Determine tracks to sync…”. After waiting an hour, and not being able to gain control back, I gave up and switched off. Now, I know that’s not good but what other option was there?

Tried again, with the same result and the same switch off. Time to hit the forums: now Safari is running like a dog, both CPUs have spun up, and again no response. Turn off again…you can see what’s coming.

Opened up Disk Utility, and yep, the system drive is full of errors that can’t be recovered. Boot into the install DVD and try from there…Disk Utility can’t fix these problems. And now, when I try to boot back into OSX, I just get the “grey screen of death” (if there is such a thing!) so I now have a completely tanked system.

Off to the Apple store – can I get a copy of DiskWarrior?? Can I £@$^ – they’ve removed pretty much all of their software from the shelves. Is that something to do with the App Store now built into Snow Leopard and Lion?? Which I can’t use because I can’t boot the blasted iMac?? And anyway, wouldn’t you want this on a DVD to boot from??

Fortunately, I have a regular Time Machine backup, so the laborious recovery starts. This is where you find out how good the backup is! I actually found the restore process quite confusing in terms of the steps to take so, for those who may come after me:

  1. Boot into install DVD
  2. Use menu option “Disk Utility” to erase the system disk
  3. Use the menu option “Restore from backup” and follow instructions
  4. Find out you can’t restore to the system disk because OSX isn’t on it
  5. Install OSX…..wait for 45mins-1hr….pointlessly fill in details that you are going to overwrite…
  6. From the clean install, boot into the install DVD
  7. Use the menu option “Restore from backup” and follow instructions
  8. Find out you can’t restore from TM because it was created with a newer version of OSX
  9. Boot back into OSX, insert the Snow Leopard DVD, boot into the install DVD
  10. Install OSX….wait for 45mins-1hr
  11. Boot into the Install DVD
  12. From the menu option “Restore from backup” and follow instructions
  13. this time you can restore…..wait for 3 hours or so (you’re wait time will vary!)….
  14. Boot into OSX…get as far as the white apple and a kernel panic…WTF!!…
  15. Try again…get as far as the white apple and a kernel panic….uh oh…
  16. Slap forehead, reboot with eject key held, take out Leopard install DVD, insert Snow Leopard install DVD
  17. Boot with option key held, select DVD and hit return.
  18. From the menu option “Restore from backup” and follow instructions
  19. Leave it running, go to bed
  20. Wake up in the morning, reboot, success – no kernel panics anyway
  21. Login, faff around with rebuilding mail, reauthorising computer to iTunes etc…
  22. Breathe a sigh of release…and relax….

In hindsight, some of those steps were unnecessary (and I should have realised about restoring with the right DVD in place) but there are no real instructions that I found. Anyway, everything’s back and I now know Time Machine works. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

      I want to restore the system – why make me re-install the OS first?
      I’m trying to restore my system – I don’t want to re-enter my personal details or set up an account. Let me restore the system.
      You know I’m restoring a Snow Leopard backup, you told me so and wouldn’t let me restore to an older version of the OS. When I try and do it from a Leopard disk, stupid I know but there you go, why not warn me it won’t work. Why make me sit through 3 pointless hours. Twice.
      Put some detailed instructions on the support site. Or, if you have, make them easy to find. Better still, put them in the slim documentation that comes with the system – when it’s tanked, the internet isn’t reachable unless there’s another device in the house!

Enough said on this matter.

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