How to restore dead MacMini HDD from Time Machine?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by MacNoobGuy, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. MacNoobGuy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    #1
    hi all, i've got a MacMini here running OSX Lion. i've got an external USB HDD running Time Machine and i've been keeping daily backups for the past 6 months. i just wanted to know how i could restore the HDD if it were to die. if i bought a new HDD tomorrow for example, how could i get my system running back to where it was running today with all of the current settings and files etc?

    is it easy to do?

    thanks, i'd really appreciate any help!
     
  2. MacNoobGuy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    #2
    is there any way for me to check that Time Machine will actually restore OS X, all my videos, music and my work should the HDD actually die?

    thanks
     
  3. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #3
    I think your best bet is to check over at the Apple Support pages. There should be a knowledge base article. While I use TM, I do so to recover from 'user errors'.... i.e. me deleting things I didn't mean to.

    For disaster recovery - the internal HDD goes bad, for instance - I also do nightly cloned backup to an external HDD. Recovering from a crashed HDD is very easy with this strategy. Put new HDD in, clone the external HDD to internal, re-input license codes for a couple of applications that were tied to the hardware.

    I'm not saying that TM can't do that.... just that I don't know how to do it because - in my case - it's not what I would be doing. But I do know it can be done... so check with the Apple Support pages. Good Luck. I'm glad you are trying to get prepared before you need to know how this works. :)
     
  4. MacNoobGuy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    #4
    ok thanks.

    but does anyone know if Time Machine can restore a dead Mac Mini HDD?

    i can't seem to find an article on how to do it from Apple. would i do it by hitting 'alt' at boot up and then selecting 'Recovery'? is there a way i can test it out or should i just leave it?
     
  5. chown33, Mar 12, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013

    chown33 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    #5
    Test it by trying to restore to an empty hard drive. The HD should contain no data you want to keep, because you will have to partition it and overwrite it.

    Testing backups by restoring them and trying them is an important part of a complete backup strategy. Even if it's done just for you to practice doing it, that's useful practice when anything goes wrong. The more familiar you are with emergency procedures, the better for everyone involved.
     
  6. MacNoobGuy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    #6
    ok thanks.

    i just found this link and it says Time Machine can restore a complete system if i had to do it. http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1427#
     
  7. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #7
    That link describes how to recover specific files from Time Machine, but it doesn't address your question. The answer is yes, it can. The procedure is very simple. Whether your hard drive died or you're simply installing a new one, install OS X to the new drive. During the installation process the OS X installer should prompt you about migrating data from another computer or source. This is Migration Assistant, which can be used while in OS X even if you skip it during the operating system installation. You can direct it to Time Machine, your old hard drive, or a cloned copy of your old hard drive. OS X will then go through the backup, copying all files and settings (including multiple user accounts, excluding the core operating system files that have already been installed and customized to your computer). When finished, your computer will look exactly as it was with your last Time Machine backup.

    It's obvious but worth noting that any directories that you have excluded from your Time Machine backups will not be restored if you use Migration Assistant to copy from Time Machine.

    I've used this procedure three or four times now when moving computers and installing new drives, and it works flawlessly. It's a huge time saver.
     
  8. MacNoobGuy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    #8
    wait you just confused me. what's the difference between 'Migration Assistant' and restoring the Mac Mini's HDD from Time Machine?

    thanks
     
  9. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #9
    Maybe I can add a little info here.

    What Ledgem described is installing the OS first, then at the end of the OS using Migration Assistant to import your user account and data from the Time Machine backup disk. That will work, but is really not the easiest method.

    Since Lion 10.7.2 a Time Machine backup will contain a copy of the recovery partition on the Time Machine disk. So to restore everything back to a blank (new) drive like you are describing, all you need to do after installing the new drive is option key boot to the USB attached Time Machine drive. That will bring up the recovery screen from the Time Machine disk. Then use Disk Utility to format the drive, quit Disk Utility.. then click restore. The entire OS and your user account(s) and all your data will then get restored off the Time Machine and onto the new disk.

    The difference is that to use Migration Assistant (MA), you need to have the OS installed first. Then MA can import your user account and data.

    So you can go either way. Reinstall the OS to the blank drive then use MA to import data. Or boot to the Time Machine disk and do a full restore. Same end result. The restore from Time Machine just skips the step of having to DL and reinstall the OS since that is all done as part of the restore.
     
  10. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

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    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #10
    Very neat, I was not aware of this. It would certainly save the time of needing to download the OS X installer, now that the installers aren't provided on physical media. I have another hard drive swap coming up, and I'll test this out with it. Thank you for mentioning it!
     
  11. MacNoobGuy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    #11
    yeah, it looks really good. here's evidence from Apple: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1427# then go 'Restoring your entire system from a backup'

    i'll get to the other replies later when i get home from work!
     
  12. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #12
    I tried it just now, and it worked beautifully. There are some weird things with it (programs recognize that something changed; Mail acted as if I were setting it up for the first time, imported all of my old mail, and now acts as if nothing happened), but I don't remember that being any different from using Migration Assistant. This method saved a lot of time.
     

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