I recently had my iMac Hard Drive completely fail. It would boot to the white/grey screen with the Apple logo, put a progress bar underneath, and then just spin that spinning spinner forever, never actually booting. Very scary! Although I am concerned that I might have to replace my HD before my Apple Care runs out, what I wasn’t concerned about was whether I lost any data. I knew I had a backup, and that it would be easy to restore from this backup! Or so I thought…
I had been backing up my iMac via Time Machine, over the network, to my Drobo FS Time Machine partition/share that I had previously set up. So thus, I knew I had my data backed up, but what I didn’t know is what a nightmare it would be to actually do a restore from this network backup.
As it tuns out, it’s actually a pain in the ass, unless you know the secrets to unlocking the mysteries of Time Machine, and the Drobo FS. Here is what I had to do, I hope this helps somebody someday:
Launch into Lion’s (in my case, OS X 10.7.4) Recovery partition (hold down the option key after turning on your Mac via the power button, then select the Recovery Partition), or alternatively, boot from the OS X Lion USB Stick or DVD, whatever you have access to (for Snow Leopard 10.6.x, this will probably have the same instructions, so this should work for SL as well).
Next, ignore the main menu options that pop up, and instead run Terminal, via the Utilities menu at the top menu bar (very top of screen, near the middle). In Terminal, you have to do a few steps (use the following Terminal commands as templates, substituting your own data as necessary):
- We have to create a volume on the disk drive that OS X’s Recovery/Restore software can ‘see’ (otherwise known as a ‘mount point’):
- Then, we have to mount the network share to this newly created volume, so that it appears as a ‘local’ disk to OS X:
mount -t afp afp://YourDroboFSAdminUserName:YourDroboFSAdminPassword@IPAddressOfDrobo/YourDroboTimeMachineShareName /Volumes/TimeMachine
Using the above template, my command wound up looking something like this:
mount -t afp afp://admin:email@example.com/DroboTimeMachineShare /Volumes/TimeMachine
- Finally (and this may be Lion only, so try with and without), we have to mount the actual image of your Time Machine backup to make its contents readable by OS X’s Restore process:
Using the above template, my hdid command looked like:
If you don’t know the name of your sparsebundle file (required for Step 3 above), from the same Terminal window, you can just switch into the /Volumes/TimeMachine directory you created (“cd /Volumes/TimeMachine”), and after completing Step 2 above, you can type “ls” to list all the files in that newly mounted directory. Your sparsbundle file should be there, so make a note of its name for Step 3.
After you complete the above steps, you can quit the Terminal application, and then launch the ‘Restore From Time Machine Backup’ option from the main menu that Lion originally presented to you. Click ‘continue’, and choose your Time Machine backup (which may take a second or two to show up, but not much longer than that).
From there, you are on the long road to recovery, and you can enjoy watching that ‘Restoring’ progress bar for the next few hours.