How to Avoid a MacBook Meltdown – Part II

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Date: Wednesday, April 12th, 2006, 00:01
Category: Software

Rob Kolter, a Mac-only systems consultant in Colorado and PowerPage regular writes:

After reading of your frustration with the MBP Firmware update I’ve got a couple ideas that might help you in the future.
1) Install your OS on a FireWire drive. Do the core install and when the computer reboots unplug the drive. Let it boot back on the internal drive. After the reboot, install any updates: iTunes, iPhoto, GarageBand, 10.4.6, etc. on the FireWire drive. Make a DVD master of the FireWire Drive and burn it to disk. The absolute best way I’ve found to do this is to make a Netboot install image using OS X server tools that contains the image. Once you are booted off that CD, you can use Disk Utility to restore the core OS.
2) Create an Applications folder inside your home folder. Put ALL your non-Apple applications in it. Backup your home folder regularly. I backup to a compressed disk image overnight several nights a week. I carry the most recent copy on a FireWire drive in my bag. If my OS dies a sudden death, it becomes a pretty simple process to restore my OS and then my home folder.

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Rob Kolter, a Mac-only systems consultant in Colorado and PowerPage regular writes:

After reading of your frustration with the MBP Firmware update I’ve got a couple ideas that might help you in the future.
1) Install your OS on a FireWire drive. Do the core install and when the computer reboots unplug the drive. Let it boot back on the internal drive. After the reboot, install any updates: iTunes, iPhoto, GarageBand, 10.4.6, etc. on the FireWire drive. Make a DVD master of the FireWire Drive and burn it to disk. The absolute best way I’ve found to do this is to make a Netboot install image using OS X server tools that contains the image. Once you are booted off that CD, you can use Disk Utility to restore the core OS.
2) Create an Applications folder inside your home folder. Put ALL your non-Apple applications in it. Backup your home folder regularly. I backup to a compressed disk image overnight several nights a week. I carry the most recent copy on a FireWire drive in my bag. If my OS dies a sudden death, it becomes a pretty simple process to restore my OS and then my home folder.
In case of disaster, boot from the CD and restore from the disk image. After restart, you will be at the Apple registration and initial setup screens for a virgin OS X install. Create a user with a different name than your usual user. Then restore your home folder with all your applications and settings to the /Users/ folder. After your home folder is restored, go to System Preferences -> Accounts and set up a new user with the same short name as your restored home folder. Give that new user administrative privileges. The system will ask if you want to use the existing folder or choose a new name: use the existing folder. Logout and log in as your restored user: all your applications and preferences will be restored. Go back to System Preferences -> Accounts and delete the user you created on initial startup.
The disk images I made also serve me well as a consultant. I have two images: one for 10.3.9 and one for 10.4.6. By pre-building these I am able to save a lot of time doing system restores for my clients as well as installing new hardware. I keep these disk images up to date and burned to DVDs.
NOTE: I am not using any Intel-based Macs at this time and neither is my customer base. I’ve not tried this on an Intel-based Mac, but it works REAL well on my PowerBook G4 1.67, my G5, and my wife’s iBook.
I hope this trick will help you in your next disaster recovery.

Contributed by: Rob Kolter
Bill Elkus wrote How to Avoid a MacBook Meltdown – Part I, he uses Synchronize Pro X from Qdea on 07 April 2006.

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