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Backup MACBOOK Air, rebuild, and restore.

Posted on 2014-03-11
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Last Modified: 2016-06-07
Hi,

I have an important user who accidentally did something to his MacBook Air, and I need to blow it away and start over. I do need to backup and restore his files, apps and settings. I am a Windows engineer, so I have a few questions.
(1) is Time Machine the best option for the backup, and if so, how long would an initial backup take (generally 1-2 hours?).
(2), if I use the Disk Options, does the OSX OS install automatically or do I need the OS software disk.
(3) Is there anything I am missing here?

Thanks!
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Question by:sarasotamac
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Eoin OSullivan earned 250 total points
ID: 39921310
Personally I believe TimeMachine is not the best option for a once-off backup, if the user already has TimeMachine running and operational and you can simply run an update to the current state of the MacBook that would be ideal.  If there is no backup then I'd use Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) to create an image file of the entire HD on an external drive .. which is faster than TimeMachine.

To wipe and clean install the laptop back to factory settings and assuming you've a MacBook Air with OSX Lion or newer .. you simply hold down CMD+R while the computer is booting. This will boot into Lion's recovery partition and you can use the disk utility to format the hard drive and reinstall a clean instance of OSX.  There's no disk drive on the Air and it is now normal to install from the recovery partition and download the installer over the Internet.
Assuming you cloned the HD with CCC you can mount the drive image on the desktop and use the Migration Assistant app to import the accounts, settings and apps from the backup image.  If you used TimeMachine then the migration assistant can also import directly from a TimeMachine backup
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by:sarasotamac
ID: 39921381
Thanks. So with CCC, I can copy the whole drive, mount it on the rebuild laptop,  and pick and choice what to import from it?
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by:Eoin OSullivan
ID: 39921401
Yes  ... CCC can run on a live OSX and make a full copy of the entire HD .. the size of the disk image will be about the same as the occupied space on the laptop HD  so make sure there's enough space on the external HD for the backup.  In CCC select the HD in the left column .. and on the right dialog select 'New Disk Image" and save it on the external HD.  You'll have to enter an admin password to give it full permissions to access all files.

Also use a HFS formatted external HD not FAT or NTFS as OSX cannot write to NTFS and FAT has filesize limits

CCC 3.4.7 is free and works on OSX up to 10.7 Lion
CCC 3.5.4 costs $40 for OSX 10.8 and 10.9 (there's a fully functional 30 day demo too)
Both copies are here
http://bombich.com/download.html

I'd recommend it as a useful backup tool for OSX.
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by:strung
strung earned 250 total points
ID: 39921517
Here is another alternative:

1. Make sure you have a USB external large enough to back up the internal drive.

2. Connect the external and boot from the recovery partition on the Air, by booting while holding down Command-R.

3. Select Disk Utility and use it to erase and reformat the external drive as Mac Extended Format (Journalled).

4. Then use the Recovery tab in Disk Utility to recover the internal hard drive to the external. This will make a bootable clone of the internal drive on the external.

5. Once the restore is completed, reboot while holding down the option key to bring up the boot picker and select the external drive to make sure it is bootable and appears to be complete.

6. Shut down and unplug the external drive.

7. Reboot from the restore partition on the Air by holding down Command R.

8. Use Disk Utility to erase and reformat the internal drive a Mac Extended Format Journalled.

9. From the restore partition select re-install operating system.

10. Once the operating system starts installing, reconnect the external drive.

11. At some point the system will ask you to reboot and after rebooting migration assistant should ask you if you want to copy settings, apps and documents from the external. (If not, select Migration Assistant manually from /Applications/Utilities).
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by:sarasotamac
ID: 39921550
Hi Strung,

Thanks, this seems fairly straight forward.
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Expert Comment

by:Eoin OSullivan
ID: 39921571
strung's option works well if you've an external HD you can fully erase and over-write the clone of the HD from the laptop and uses the Apple DiskUtility app which is on every Mac.

CCC is the option if you have a pre-formatted Mac HD with other data on it (such as a timemachine backup) or other files but has enough free space to store the image.
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by:sarasotamac
ID: 39921583
At this point I have to see what I have in terms of hardware, however two excellent answers. It is much appreciated.
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