Stupid Question - Recovery/Reinstalling OS X

Discussion in 'macOS' started by jimmyco2008, Oct 5, 2014.

  1. jimmyco2008 macrumors regular

    Jan 8, 2014
    Hey all,

    I just want to make sure I don't inadvertently delete all of someone's documents and such. OS X (Mountain Lion) isn't booting, and recovery isn't working. So I want to use a USB installer I have, but it's for Mavericks.

    The MacBook is capable of running Mavericks of course, but will installing it (without formatting the MacBook HD) erase the drive anyway? I know it's a stupid question, I'm 90% sure I can install Mavericks over Mountain Lion and keep the documents/music/pictures/etc in tact, I just want to be SURE.

  2. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    Your better bet is to clone (I like Carbon Copy Cloner) and clone your hard drive to external. Then do a fresh install from the clone then use Migration to get all the data from the clone. This way you can have a fresh start and a viable backup.
  3. jimmyco2008 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 8, 2014
    No doubt, but I don't have that option. So the personal data will remain if I use a USB installer to install Mavericks over Mountain Lion?
  4. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Correct. A standard upgrade install without erasing the drive will not erase data.

    Just a caution though. Unless the user recently installed something that broke the OS, there is nothing software wise that would make the OS just spontaneously stop working and not boot. It sounds like perhaps you have a hardware issue going on there like maybe a failing drive.

    If you do have a failing drive there and reinstall the OS, the normal thrashing around and stress of a OS install may push the drive over the edge and kill it entirely. If you can, I would put the drive in an external enclosure and see if you can get data off it that way.
  5. jimmyco2008 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 8, 2014
    Excellent point, weaselboy. I was just pondering that. It froze, so she held the power button, then turned it back on, and now it won't boot.

    She can get into recovery just fine, though.

    But my thinking was that a reinstall of OS X probably wouldn't be needed because, like you said, OS X shouldn't just spontaneously spaz out. I was going to boot safe mode and verify/repair the disk, see what S.M.A.R.T. says... But it could be a failing hard drive, true.
  6. jimmyco2008 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 8, 2014
    Booted into Safe Mode, installed an update... It works fine. S.M.A.R.T. is saying all is well with the HDD, and it's functioning quite well for a 2009 MacBook.

    It's possible the update overwrote a corrupt system file/Mach Kernel. In any event, it works!

    If it took 20 minutes to boot or something like that, I'd worry about the HDD, but like I said, everything looks chipper.

    Thanks again for the replies, guys.

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