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How to image stock OS before using MBA for the first time?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by timidhermit, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. macrumors regular

    I am making my first transition from Windows to Mac with the 2011 MBA.

    I have some questions on how to backup the stock OS install on my MBA. Can someone give me some advice?

    For PC (Windows), such as a Dell laptop, before I even turn on the machine to set up the stock OS that is already installed for the every first time, I would make a habit of booting the machine to an external CD running Acronis and make an image backup of the entire hard drive. This way, when I restore the image, the laptop will revert to the state as if I just took it home from the store and turn it on for the first time.

    For Mac, I understand that OSX, on first boot, will walk me through a setup procedure. I like to know how I can force the MBA to boot to an external CD running some sort of image software so that I can make a 1:1 disk image before any personalized setup is done by the OS.

    How do I do this? What program should I use (commercial or otherwise). Must I do this using a prepared CD with the USB-connected superdrive? Can I use a prepared USB to do the same?
  2. macrumors 6502


    Hold the alt(also labelled option) key as you are booting and it will present you with any bootable drives it sees (be it the internal drive, USB CD drive, or USB Hard drive). Boot it up and image away. If you're just copying the bits (like with dd) doesn't matter what you do. If you are trying to copy the file system then make sure you have something that can read Apple's HFS file system.
  3. macrumors regular

    Thank you for the tip.

    What is your recommendation, based on popularity, the application to use to do this imaging? Can I install the application on a USB flash drive which I would boot to and to backup the image (bit copy) to a different USB hard drive?

  4. macrumors 6502a

    First off, congratulations on making the transition. I made mine back in 2006.

    I would suggest installing one program on the MacBook air, called SuperDuper and then use that program to make one bootable backup. I've used that program for years and it is the most user-friendly and useful
  5. macrumors regular

    Thank you. At this time, I am looking for a way to create a bitcopy of the stock OS first (even before I run OSX for the first time to set up my MBA). Is it possible to run SuperDuper on an USB flash key (and boot off the USB key) and use it to create a backup image (much like Acronis in Windows or DD in Unix) of the entire MBA SSD?

  6. macrumors regular

    Wondering if I can get more suggestions from this community about imaging the stock OS before setting it up for the first time...

    Can SuperDuper do what I wanted without installing it in the OS first? Can it run off a USB key like Acronis? What other application can do this?
  7. macrumors 6502

    The latest MBA's have a built in recovery partition built in, which will allow you to connect to a WiFi network and download OS X 10.7 and install it freely onto the machine. There are no drivers needed etc for OS X, so imaging it is relatively pointless unless you have set it up and installed apps etc.
  8. macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

  9. macrumors 604


    I just got done cloning both the OS X and Win 7 Boot Camp partitions with Clonezilla. Seems to have worked, but the proof will be when I have to restore. Not sure how I go about testing that... :rolleyes:
  10. hfg
    macrumors 68030


    I usually just use the supplied installation backup disks to restore the "out of box" experience when I sell my Macs. Simply boot from the DVD, use the "Disk Utility" to zero wipe the drive, then complete the installation to the "Welcome" screen and power off (press and hold the power button) the computer and pack it up to ship. When the new owner first turns it on, it will boot to the welcome screen just like a new one, and they can then complete the installation and personalize/register their ownership.

    I do wish I knew a way to bypass the "personalization" part so that I could install all the updates for the new owner, and then return the machine to the "Welcome Screen Boot" status prior to shipping. I have not found a way to do that so far...

  11. macrumors 6502

    I believe, from my old hackintosh days, that OSx86 tools is capable of resetting the OS in such a fashion. It allows you to remove all users and then upon reboot it displays the setup assistant as though it was a new mac. Not sure on Lion compatibility though, only ever used it on 10.5 & 10.6.

    Hope this is useful!
  12. macrumors 604


    I just used a Clonezilla USB boot key to image a brand new MBA before the first boot, It's only about 9GB. I imaged to an external USB hard drive.

    Based in how my day is going, I may yet get a chance to test a restore of this image... :rolleyes:
  13. macrumors regular

    Any particular format I need to preformat the USB key to install Clonezilla so that the MBA can recognize it and run the Clonezilla?

    Also, what about the USB hard drive? What format did you use to preformat the USB hard drive?

  14. macrumors 604


    I followed the instructions on the Clonezilla site and ran an EXE that automatically formatted the USB key, made it bootable and loaded the software.

    When you boot the MBA and hold down the option key, two additional USB drive options will appear: Windows and EFI. Choose Windows.

    i formatted the 1TB USB hard drive HFS using my MBA.
  15. Chilulu, Jul 24, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2011

    macrumors newbie

    I heard the new models ship with a recovery partition instead of coming with a USB key with the original software/image. My only concern with this approach is what if the partition is corrupted or accidentally deleted? Or is this partition stored in some kind read-only NVRAM device? Let's assume one has the need to perform a purely local restore (i.e. no Wi-Fi or Internet).

    Before Lion, all late model Macs shipped with a recovery DVD which when booted from could restore your machine to factory default state. In order to start the restore process, one had to format or wipe the target hard disk, during which partitions were created (or the default accepted), and the file system type selected and named. Though one could recreate (by accepting) the factory default partition layout and name it the factory default of "Macintosh HD," it's technically not a 100% pure "factory reset."

    Anyway, I understand where the OP is coming from (I too come from a Windows background) in wanting to "capture" the factory default state. However, my MBA with Lion installed hasn't arrived yet so I can't really comment on how the whole recovery system is implemented.

    Once it arrives though, I certainly plan on booting it first and foremost with Ghost or System Savior (the latter being an enterprise solution intended for imaging servers). FYI most recent imaging tools support dumping to USB storage formatted in FAT32 and NTFS, with the former requiring the image file to be split into <4GB chunks.

    Hope this helps!
  16. macrumors 604


    Yup, that is correct. And I put that to the test by corrupting my entire hard drive by mucking around inside the Windows Disk Management utility, and I was unable to do anything. :( I did take it to the Apple Store, where they also were unable to fix because they had not yet received their restore images with Lion on them, so they gave me a brand new one. :D

    They should include a restore USB stick, or at least an option to create one. But messing the entire hard drive is something most people will never do... :rolleyes:

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