Monday, June 15, 2015

Adventures restoring the Mac Book Air from a Time machine backup

Taking backups with Time Machine on Mac OS X is a breeze: you plug in the backup drive, and wait for the magic to happen. Restoring the backup to a misbehaving laptop though appears to be a different story. I had to go through multiple iterations before I finally got the data back on the laptop. Since my backup setup is not atypical with the exception of an encrypted drive and backups, I was surprised it took that many times to successfully restore the data.

Initially I tried restoring the backups by booting the Mac in recovery mode, and using the restore from Time Machine option. The restore started, but after roughly 12 hours it silently failed.

For my second attempt I decided to install Yosemite from scratch and use the user migration assistant to recover my data. After progressing for a long time, the restore silently failed as well.

My third attempt was a bit more drastic: I wiped out the drive, and attempted to restore the backup from Time Machine. That too failed after progressing for roughly 12 hours.

For my final attempt I decided to wipe out the drive, reformat the drive to a different file system--case-sensitive journaled unencrypted file system, install Yosemite from scratch, and use the user migration assistant to recover the data. For some reason that worked, and after the migration was complete, I turned on File Vault to encrypt the drive, and everything was back to normal again.
 

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