Recovering the recovery partition OS X

Discussion in 'OS X Mavericks (10.9)' started by Thaenor, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. Thaenor macrumors member

    Jan 5, 2014
    Greetings, this is going to be a long post so I’ll try to be concise.

    I have a macbook air 11’’ with 120GB HDD. It came with mountain lion but I upgraded through the app store to Mavericks

    I had a bootcamp Windows 7 partition. While uninstalling it there was some error (not much info shown). From what I could tell my Windows partition was removed but the OSX one wasn’t resized to the full disc.

    I tried Internet recovery but every time I tried I got different error codes.

    I tried using the disc boot selector (pressing alt at boot) and choosing the recovery partition, however an error is show and right after the mac shuts down.

    I tried using disc utility to expand partition but there was an error.
    So I followed this tutorial -
    and it fixed my problem. I have all the disc space for the only partition, the osx one.

    The problem is, the issues I had before with the recovery partition still remain. I won’t be able to fix future issues through them. And I can’t recover time machine backups to previous versions.

    I have a time machine backup with Mountain lion (made before upgrading to Mavericks), I wouldn’t mind going back. but there is no way I can access the recovery boot now.

    I thinking about using the Recovery Disk Assistant for Mountain lion I download from the apple site and installed on a usb pen… but I’m not sure what this will do.

  2. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Just so I understand, except for the absence of the Recovery HD partition, everything else is fine?

    If that is the case, you can try using this tool along will the Mavericks installer from the App Store to recreate the recovery partition.

    I have not used this myself, but others here on the forum have used it and report it works just fine.
  3. Thaenor, Jan 5, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014

    Thaenor thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 5, 2014
    Yes, everything else appears to be fine. And the Recovery HD isn't exactly absent since I can still see it and select it from the boot menu, it just doesn't work once chosen.

    I'll take a look at the program you suggested, thank you for the fast reply.

    PS: Does this affect warranty in any way? Being a programmer and all I often like and prefer the DIY solutions... but with warranty involved it might be better to leave this at the hands of Apple staff.
  4. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    Your Time Machine disk will have a recovery partition on it. This is true for Time Machine disks since 10.7.2.
  5. Thaenor thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 5, 2014
    My "Time Machine" is an external drive I had before I got my mac... I just formatted it to a mac journalling (or smth like that). Then used the time machine to run backups in it.

    So should I just choose the external drive in the boot selector? I don't think it works... but I just tried it once a long time ago...
  6. Bear, Jan 6, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2014

    Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    If you want to make sure that the Time Machine disk has a working recovery partition, then yes you should try booting from it. I should clarify that the Time Machine disk has to be one that was and is directly connected (USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt).

    Note: You cannot use System Preferences to select a Time Machine disk as a startup disk, you need to select it when starting/restarting the computer while holding the option key down.
  7. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    This is not going to help you get a Mavericks recovery partition back on your internal drive. If that TM backup was made with Mountain Lion, there will be a Mountain Lion version recovery partition on the TM disk. It is true you can option key boot to that ML recovery partition on the TM disk, but that can only be used either to restore the TM backup or download ML. There is no way this will help you get a Mavericks recovery partition back on the internal because there is no Mavs recovery partition on there to copy.
  8. Thaenor thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 5, 2014
    I want to settle a couple of questions down.

    1. Is it expected that I have a Recovery HD to factory reset my Mavericks? Or does :apple: rely on Internet Recovery alone?

    2. In your opinion, would you consider a good idea to do a clean install and go back to a previous version, by which I mean Mountain Lion?

    2.1 - I downloaded a "Recovery Disk assistant" from :apple: site. Installed it on a pen and it should work has a recovery for mountain lion. Will using this in my current system just result in an error or will it take me back to mountain lion?

    Thanks a lot for the help, sadly I fell more confused. :confused::confused::confused: I came here thinking my Recovery HD was corrupted, now I'm not even sure I'm supposed to have one.
  9. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    1. Yes, a standard, default installation would have a 650MB recovery partition. Looks like yours got borked with all the partition mess involving your Bootcamp removal.

    As a redundant installation method, newer Macs (2011+) have Internet Recovery. That is invoked by a command-option-r boot. Internet recovery pulls down the 650MB recovery utility from Apple's servers and after launch can be used to format a new, blank drive and install the OS.

    You do want to have a recovery partition on the drive even though you have the Internet recovery option available. There are some features of OS X that require the recovery partition, such as Find my Mac and Filevault encryption. Plus you can quickly command-r boot to recovery to repair disk errors without having to download that 650MB utility through Internet recovery (no fun on hotel wifi).

    2. It does not appear to me any of your problems were related to Mavericks and I see no reason to roll back to Mountain Lion. If you don't want to fuss with that recovery restore utility you can just redownload Mavericks from the App Store and install it again over top of your existing install and that too will create a recovery partition. Backup first to be safe, but this will not erase your data.

    2.1 The Apple Recovery Disk Assistant tool is used to copy your 650MB recovery partition from your internal drive to a USB key for a third level of redundancy. So once you use the utility to make the USB key, you could option key boot to the key and have the same recovery tools as if you command-r booted from the internal disk or used Internet Recovery.

    The thing is that Apple utility uses the recovery partition on your internal drive to copy to the USB key. You don't have a recovery partition on your internal drive so the utility at this point won't work for you.

    The recovery partition is different for each OS version. So if you boot from a Mountain Lion recovery partition (either on a USB key or on your internal drive) that will reinstall Mountain Lion for you from Apple's servers. Same for Mavericks... boot from a Mavericks version recovery partition and that will download and install Mavericks for you.

    There is a twist though. When you boot to the firmware based Internet recovery, that bypasses whatever recovery version you have on the internal drive and reinstalls whatever OS came from the factory. This is tied to your serial number. So let's say you bought a Mac in 2011 with Lion on it, then later installed Mountain Lion, then later still installed Mavericks. A command-r boot to the disk based recovery would reinstall Mavericks, but a command-option-r boot to Internet recovery then erase/install would take you all the way back to Lion (this is most often done when selling your Mac).

    Short version is, yes you should have a recovery partition and either using that utility I linked earlier or a simple reinstall of Mavericks (without erasing anything) will put it back and you should be in good shape.

    Just an extra suggestion. Once you do that, do a command-r boot to recovery to make sure it works and while there start Disk Utility and do a repair disk to make sure you have not introduced any disk errors with all this activity.

    Hope this helps. Fire away if you have more questions. :)

    P.S. You are not the only one a bit confused over all this recovery business. IMO Apple has not done a particularly good job explaining it to users.
  10. Thaenor thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 5, 2014
    Thank you very much!

    I would up vote your post ten times if I could.

    I was thinking yesterday "haw to hell with it, I'll just redownload and reinstall mavericks from the store!" I even backed up everything I needed. Guess my instincts weren't far off. :cool::p:D

    THANK YOU! finally I'm making some sense of this.
    So my guess is that the "Recovery Disk assistant" for Lion I downloaded from :apple: will either create a copy of my recovery HD (in which case it won't work) or I downloaded one fresh from the site. Either way it's not worth testing, since the best case scenario involves me going back to Mountain Lion.
    (the only reason I would want to go back to Mountain Lion was so Adobe Captivate would be compatible again and I could test some stuff I was struggling with... but that's a tale for another day)

    I'm gonna go with reinstalling Mavericks from the store. It's fine if it deletes everything (at this point would be a couple of apps) but they are easy to download.

    There were some other issues I'd like to discuss... at the risk of getting a little off topic... but it WAS the reason of all this trouble.

    I've tried to quit.. I've almost done it but I can never do so completely. It's hard to resist playing a little game or two in weekends or when there's a larger chunk of free time. That or you are simply required to use Windows exe's for whatever reason.

    The question is, what are my alternatives for running Windows apps on a mac with 120gb HDD??? I'm talking things like Assassin's Creed 4 or Visual Studio

    what I've tried:

    1- Bootcamp. you need at least Windows 7 if you want things to work. That is a heavy OS in terms of disk space... add to that the programs and games...
    fact is my mac has handled windows games like Mortal Online way better than my i7 laptop (hp dv3). The only issue is... 60gb (half of my drive) aren't enough.

    2- Virtual Machine - if I keep it in my HDD I'll have the same problem as (1) plus it's not as efficient. If I keep it in an external drive it gets really sluggish and slow.
    I've been using this solution. I can't play anything too complex with it, and Visual Studio takes a really long time to load at times. Plus it's a pain in the *** to carry the external hard drive all the time. In conclusion this solves 50% of my problem.

    3 - using a Wine like program - I haven't found a good program for this yet. Tried Croosover but I found it strange to select what app I want from a list and still have to get the .exe myself... either way I couldn't install Visual Studio through this method.
    My guess is that this won't be very effective. I once had an Age of Empires game which I think had some sort of wine skin or something that allowed me to play it.
    It was AoE 2! and even though the low graphics it crashed once due to lack of memory (I have 8GB ram!) so I can only assume it must've been some bug that caused the many processes to fork or something like that.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    PS: for Weaselboy:
  11. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Hah hah... thanks for the upboat! :D

    I don't think Wine is going to work with most games, so that leaves you with a VM of some sort like Parallels or similar. There is just no way around it taking a bunch of disk space.

    I finally gave up on computer gaming and just went with a console, and never looked back. I still remember going to Best Buy years ago and paying $499 for the latest Diamond graphics card. :)

    Let me know how this works out for you.
  12. Thaenor thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 5, 2014
    Just finished reinstalling Mavericks from the store. It installed smoothly over diner. Tested the recovery partition through the boot menu and it worked fine, I got up to the menu where I could choose to reinstall the OS, use a time machine backup, run the disk utility or use the Internet for help.
    btw I tried choosing the Time machine disk from the boot menu and it just booted the mac normally.

    This is great! Many thanks!

    As for the second issue, the best way around this I could find was to use a PC I have. Time is of the essence and I can't bother to look for a solution or alternative for mac.

    Probably this won't be the best place to ask this, but is there a tool or a tutorial that would allow to remove unused things from Windows?
    Later on (in a couple of weeks) I think I'm going to give it a shot and install a VM in parallels with Windows 7 basic, the one with the least features I can get (so it takes less space), and if from that I could strip more parts it would be even better (maybe things like ditching the desktop and just using it in compatibility mode).

    But I should leave that for a post some other day. Thank you very much, again, for all the help and clarifying (and solving) this issue!:)

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