Starting over: How do I format my mini

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Wingnut330, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. Wingnut330 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2008
    Central Ohio - USA
    Hello all,

    So about 4 years ago I bought a MPB and loved it Last year it died and I replaced it with a Mac Mini. When I bought the mini I restored the OS from my MBP backup. It hasn't every really performed well and I suspect it's because of 2 reasons: 1 it's nearly 1005 full, and 2 the new mini has an old MBP build.

    So, I'd like to wipe the mini clean and start over. I'm not sure how to do that process. I'm also concerned because all of my music is on the mini. I have iTunes match.

    So i'm curious how to format the machine and start over and also what do I do with my music? Will iTunes match bring it over for me, or will music that I own need to be reloaded into iTunes after rebuilding the machine?
  2. charlieegan3 macrumors 68020


    Feb 16, 2012
    Do you have an external HD? and the install media (USB/CD)?
  3. Wingnut330 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2008
    Central Ohio - USA
    No but I could get a drive if needed. I don't think my mini came with any software disks or USB.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Here's my suggestions on what to do:

    - Get some kind of external backup. If you can spend $25, I recommend one of these:
    (many items shown, they all work the same, just pick one you like that's cheap, I suggest getting one that's USB for an "eye on the future")

    - To go into the dock, get a "bare" SATA hard drive from the vendor of your choice (it's possible you may even know someone who has one laying around)

    - Get the FREE application "CarbonCopyCloner" from:

    Put the drive into the dock, plug it into the Mini, use CCC to create a "bootable clone" of your internal hard drive. You are now "backed up".

    Next -- Boot from the docked drive by restarting the Mini. As soon as you hear the startup sound, hold down the option key and KEEP HOLDING IT DOWN. In a few moments, the startup manager will appear and you will see what to do next. Select the backup drive and boot from it.

    Once you are booted from the backup, I suggest you give it a different desktop picture than the internal drive, so that you can tell the cloned drive apart from the original. A "cloned drive" looks so alike the original, that they can be difficult to distinguish from one another!

    Now you're in position to do this:
    1. Use Disk Utility to re-initialize the internal drive (DO NOT do this unless you are BACKED UP!)
    2. Install a clean copy of the OS
    3. When it comes time to reboot, you can choose to "migrate" your user account, apps and data from the backup drive
    4. Install software updates as necessary

    Optional additional steps that I take (but are not absolutely necessary):
    5. Use the "monolingual" app to "strip out" all languages except English (this can save up to 1gb of space)
    6. Boot from the cloned backup, and use a defrag/optimizer to defragment the newly-rebuilt internal drive (I like "drive genius")

    Once you're up and running with a rebuilt internal drive, you can continue to use CCC to update your backup clone as you wish. Once daily is probably sufficient. Even once a week will do....
  5. Wingnut330 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2008
    Central Ohio - USA
    Oh excellent - thank you for the detailed response! Can I pick and choose what's restored? I don't want my iPhoto pics etc. My plan is to make this mini a media host with iTunes music and movies and essentially nothing else. When I bring in my user will it bring everything or can I pick and choose?

    Also, can I just wipe it and then log in to iTunes and then it download my songs back to me?

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