Apple Macintosh – I lost my hard drive but no worries!

I’ve got a modern iMac running OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard).  Beyond being a Mac geek at heart I have always felt that OS X makes it easy to do things so I can focus on the work and not the machine.  I was so glad when Apple introduced Time Machine, a utility that runs by itself in the background and constantly makes backup of your data, because I always have this fear of losing my digital archive.  I’ve got some many pictures, movies, and music that I would be devastated if I lost my data.

I’ve got a 500gb external HD plugged into my Mac that is used solely for Time Machine.  Since I originally setup my iMac and Time Machine I have never even looked at the drive or the files.  Today my internal HD took a crap and after failing to try and repair it I was forced to erase it and start from new.  CRAP!  Now it’s time to see how well this Time Machine utility really performs.  The following is what I had to do in order to restore my hard drive:
  1. Start up from my OS X 10.6 cd (3 minutes)
  2. Launch Disk Utility and erase/format the HD (1 minute)
  3. Choose “Restore from Time Machine image” and select my latest backup (1 minute)
  4. Let it restore my HD (2 hours)
After going through the restore and trying to boot I was faced with the problem that the machine wouldn’t boot up cleanly.  I had to approach the restoration via the method of clean install and then restore my files.  Here is what I did:
  1. Start up from my OS X 10.6 cd (3 minutes)
  2. Launch Disk Utility and erase/format the HD (1 minute)
  3. Chose to install 10.6 from the CD (45 minutes)
  4. Booted up and patched up to the latest patches
  5. Used Time Machine to bring up my files and chose to restore:
    1. Documents
    2. Applications
    3. Data for Mail, Calendar
    4. Libraries for iPhoto and iTunes
In the end it still wasn’t something that a novice could do, it required knowing where data files are stored and choosing the correct files to be restored.  The great news is that I didn’t lose a thing.

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