Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How to Create Recovery HD on External Drives

A hidden 'Recovery HD' partition is formed on the boot volume of your Mac hard drive whenever you perform the OS X Lion installation. This 'Recovery HD' partition comes to your rescue when your Mac faces boot failure. You get a range of options with this new feature of OS X Lion, such as reinstallation of OS X, disk verification and repair, and more.

Apple provides another tool 'Lion Recovery Disk Assistant' for those users who need to have 'Recovery HD' partition on their external drives as well. This feature, however, cannot be used for internal hard drives as those in Mac Pro, iMac, and Mac mini.

The process involves creating a clone of the original 'Recovery HD' partition on your startup disk. The 'Recovery HD' is a hidden partition that does not get displayed on your Mac desktop. You need to first make it visible in order for creating its clone on an external hard drive. You can use the hidden debug menu of Disk Utility to make sure all hidden partitions on the hard drive show up in Disk Utility. In order to form a clone of the 'Recovery HD' volume, you need to do the following two things:
  • Open Disk Utility by navigating to the '/Applications/Utilities' folder.
  • Make 'Recovery HD' visible in Disk Utility using its Debug menu.

You can clone 'Recovery HD' to any volume that shows up in Disk Utility. The process will completely erase all data stored on the destination volume. To prevent data loss, you should resize the destination volume and create another partition that will store the 'Recovery HD' clone. You should reserve at least 650 MB of disk space for the clone.

Once you are finished preparing the destination volume, follow the given procedure to clone your 'Recovery HD' volume:
  • Select the original Recovery HD partition in the left pane of Disk Utility window, and then click the 'Restore' tab.
  • Drag and drop the Recovery HD partition in the Source field.
  • Drag the volume to which you need to clone Recovery HD to the Destination field in the right pane of the window.    
  • After selecting the 'Source' and 'Destination', click the 'Restore' button at the bottom.
  • When Disk Utility prompts you to erase the drive, click 'Erase'.
  • Provide your administrator account password and click 'OK'.
  • When the process is completed, you can use the clone as if it were the original Recovery HD volume.

The Lion Recovery feature is a good way to get your Mac up and running in no time when a failure strikes. As an alternative to Lion Recovery, you can use professional Mac data recovery software to recoup all your lost data in the event of a crash. These software are bundled with a Bootable DVD, which can be used to boot your Mac in times of disaster and perform data recovery.  

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