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Report: post-Lion MacBook Pros lack Internet Restore

updated 08:30 pm EDT, Wed July 27, 2011

No easy way to recover from HD or SSD failure

Currently shipping Lion-based MacBook Pros no longer come with any restore media -- neither a DVD nor a USB key -- but also cannot use Lion's new Internet Restore feature, making restoration from a failed HD or SSD boot drive much more difficult, reports J. Glenn Künzler of MacTrast. Hardware drive failures in these machines may now require Apple authorized servicing to fix.

The problem would not affect MacBook Pros that upgraded to Lion rather than shipped with it, nor owners who used command-line or third-party GUI tools to create bootable clones of their boot drive -- but at present, there appears to be no Apple-sanctioned way for new MacBook Pro owners whose machines shipped with Lion pre-installed to easily recover from a hard disc or SSD hardware failure.

If the owner did not make a bootable clone, they would have to take the machine to an Apple authorized service provider to re-install Lion on a new drive, as the Mac App Store does not allow re-downloading on machines that didn't upgrade to Lion from Snow Leopard, and the machines themselves cannot boot from any earlier version of Mac OS X.

In cases where the failure to boot is not hardware-related, Lion automatically includes a bootable recovery partition that becomes visible when restarting holding the option key. It offers the option of restoring Lion from its own partition, restoring from a Time Machine backup, running Disk Utility or getting online help. The emergency partition, however, is present only on the boot drive and is not itself backed up by Time Machine, being considered a separate volume.

New MacBook Airs and Mac minis -- which ship without optical drives -- are now equipped with the ability to use a special Internet Restore option that does not require any pre-existing install of Lion to be present. The feature, which is hardware-dependent, means that if an owner experienced the loss of a bootable hard drive and substituted a new blank hard drive, the Mac would detect this and begin downloading a Lion Restore partition over a broadband connection automatically.

Künzler's testing seems to indicate that currently-shipping MacBook Pros don't have this automatic detection, which may suggest that a revised model may be coming out soon. In the meantime, it is possible for new MacBook Pro owners to protect themselves by using the command-line tool "rsync" or a Lion-compatible clone utility such as Clone X 4 ($30) or Carbon Copy Cloner (donationware) or SuperDuper! (free for full cloning; $28 for advanced features). Apple may eventually offer affected MBP owners a bootable USB drive, similar to the one it plans to offer for sale in August. He says he has "reached out" to Apple for a comment or solution.

The report also mentions other notable differences between the Lion-equipped MacBook Pro and the recent Snow Leopard model, including a change in packaging on the outside (a Lion screen on the front graphic), and on the inside (the consolidation of introductory leaflets and discs into a single book), as well as noting a slightly different OS build number (11A511a rather than the Mac App Store's 11A511) and new official model number -- the latter owing to the replacement of two keys on the keyboard to reflect the change to Mission Control and Launchpad rather than Expose and Dashboard. [via MacTrast]















by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. solefald

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -8

    wow

    7 paragraphs to tell us that MacBook Pro's do not come with the restore media....
    Who cares? It takes less time to make a bootable Lion USB key than it took to write this damn article!

  1. JuanGuapo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +5

    Ok.

    Apple tells you how to install Lion on external HDDs on the recovery site page: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4718

  1. imNat-imadouche

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -5

    Oh Apple

    Your so greeeeeeedy!

  1. imNat-imadouche

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    So much

    for Apples well known user friendliness. I'm sure older folks who like the simplicity of Apple OS will have no idea how to create a bootable image or type silly commands in terminal to be able to restore their macs.

  1. chas_m

    Moderator

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +8

    Reading comprehension

    You guys all lack it.

    Solefald and Juan, re-read the article and pay attention this time. Apple already provided solutions that are simple enough for consumers for OTHER Lion-shipping machines, but NOT for the current MacBook Pros. It's not about a lack of restore media, it's about this ONE model has NO fallback in the case of hard drive failure -- not the Internet Restore talked about in the technote, and NO WAY to make a bootable Lion USB key. DO YOU GET IT YET??

    I don't think this will be a problem for long -- as proven by the Air and Mini, Apple *intended* to provide a way to do the Internet Restore, but this particular MBP revision "slipped through the cracks" on that and it will need to be addressed by the company.

  1. aaanorton

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    @ chas_m

    "If the owner did not make a bootable clone, they would have to take the machine to an Apple authorized service provider to re-install Lion on a new drive..."

    If.

  1. facebook_Hero

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jul 2011

    -6

    Another slow news day eh?

    And what's with the crazy pictures that don't have anything to do with the article. I guess MAcNN has finally rolled out the 1 Million Monkey project, where they all randomly type and insert pictures. Ps. Did AppleInsider scoop you in this one: http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/07/27/paypal_users_mistakenly_charged_as_much_as_4000_for_mac_os_x_lion.html

  1. Sandman619

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    comment title


    Since the RecoverHD is on a separate partition, then only catastrophic HD failure would be an issue. Otherwise, software corruption would not affect the other partition, since the drive doesn't use the unmounted partition of the drive. MacBooks now have internal sensors that can detect a MacBook in freefall & park the drive heads to avoid physical damage on the impact. For the remaining few failures, you walk into an Apple Store, having made your appointment for the Genius Bar & they reinstall Lion on your new harddrive because your MacBook is still under warranty or AppleCare warranty. That leaves very few other issues uncovered

    As for SSD's, they have a very long life expectancy & aren't subject to physical wear like a spinning disc so probably Apple's thinking is not likely to be an issue ?

    Cheers !

  1. freddymac

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    How long?

    Till someone takes Apple to court and sues them for this. Then it will go "class action" Any bets?

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    and....

    To the 'it isn't a problem' folks, bear in mind many people don't even look for such things until they need them. Not everyone falls in the "Let's take a picture of everything in the box as I unbox it" category, you know., and even then, would they think "Hmmm, no restore CD?"

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