Mac Drive Failure

On Thursday the hard drive on my Macbook Pro failed. Not a problem. I run Time Machine regularly so I have a full incremental backup that’ll restore my machine back to working condition. Just need to buy a new drive, install it and boot the machine into Recovery mode to start the restore.

Oh… That’s doesn’t work with a blank hard drive. Need to use a boot CD.

Oh… OS X hasn’t come on CD for ages. Try with the last physical disc I have – Snow Leopard. Nope. Doesn’t work.

What the hell do I do now?

What you have to do is download the Yosemite installer with another machine and use that to make a bootable flash drive. If you have access to another Mac. You won’t be able to do that on a PC as it won’t be able to work with the Mac file formats. Luckily I was able to do this by booting the laptop from an old, smaller hard drive.

So the lesson from today is that if you have a Mac and you’re running Time Machine, make sure you have a bootable install disc or flash drive to get a recovery going. Make one now while your machine is still working. It could save  you a lot of pain later.

Clear instructions on how to do this can be found here. But in brief:

  1. In Disc Utility, partition the flash drive with a Mac OS Extended (journaled) filesystem and in Options choose GUID Partition table.
  2. Download the installer from the App Store, and cancel the install when it starts.
  3. Run the following command in Terminal (assuming the Flash drive is called Recovery):

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ –volume /Volumes/Recovery –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ –nointeraction