20 April 2008

An (eventual) Time Capsule happy ending

We had a couple of power outages in quick succession. Plus, they weren’t just on→off→on but included a bit of brown-out. Afterwards, my Mac mini wouldn’t get past the boot screen with the gray Apple logo and spinning gear.

Booting from the Leopard disc worked fine. Disk Utility repaired some problems with the mini’s disc. When I tried to boot off it, though, it still stuck on the logo and gear screen.

After various other pokings around, I decide it’s time for an archive install of Leopard. Unfortunately, the mini’s disc was too full.

Andi—my wonderful wife and Apple tier 1 telephone tech support rep.—suggests deleting some stuff to make space because I can always restore it from our Time Capsule. I’m not sure (at this point) how I could delete things—other than wiping the disc. Then I realize that the Leopard installer has an option to restore a Time Machine backup directly. So, that seems the best way to go.

Unfortunately, that kept failing.

I think maybe the partition table got corrupted. So, I repartitioned the mini’s disc and tried again. The restore finished!

After rebooting off the newly restored disc, the mini stuck on the logo and gear screen again.

Verbose boot seemed to show disc problems. Booting off the Leopard disc again, Disk Utility showed no partitions. Any attempt to repartition it now gave an “in use” error.

Tried a few other things, but finally used the command line diskutil to repartition and format the disc. (It’s nice that the Leopard disc includes Terminal.app.)

Now the Time Machine restore option wouldn’t recognize the mini’s disc.

Tried a few other things, but then realized—the mini’s disc has already been wiped at this point—let’s just install Leopard.

That works fine. During the “welcome wizard”, it gives me the option to transfer data from a Time Machine backup.

At the stage where it calculates whether you have enough disc space, it keeps getting stuck. I finally try restarting it and sitting there moving the mouse or hitting a key every once in a while to keep it from going to sleep, and that works. Transfer begins. It puts the monitor to sleep during this process too, but doesn’t get stuck.

Reboot. Everything looks good except that I’ve now got only Leopard 10.5.0 and my iTunes has been downgraded so it can’t read my iTunes Library. (Not unexpected.) After a long Software Update session, I’m all up-to-date again.

So, it wasn’t the kind of smooth experience you might like, but Time Machine and the Time Capsule came through. I’m right back where I was before the incident.

And it turns out, I should’ve just listened to Andrea’s advice. (Not unexpected.)


trollsmyth said...

Yeah, Austin can be really bad for power outages, especially when it gets windy.

When we were living on the north end of town, we'd get these horrible power outages where the power would go out, the system would immediately try to kick the power back on, it would fail again, on again, off again, in rapid succession that seemed tailor-made for destroying computers and other electronics.

All I can say is, I'm glad you were able to restore without too much lost data, and powerstrips are your friend.

- Brian

Robert Fisher said...

"All I can say is, I'm glad you were able to restore without too much lost data, and powerstrips are your friend."


I can hope this will motivate me to finish de-commissioning the old Linux server. Then, I'll move the Mac mini onto the IPS in its place. (^_^)