Home > Mac administration, Mac OS X, Time Machine > How to do a full Time Machine system restore without being booted from an install DVD

How to do a full Time Machine system restore without being booted from an install DVD

Recently, I found that I needed to do a full system restore on a late-model MacBook Pro, but didn’t have a 10.5 install DVD available that would boot the laptop. I did have a FireWire utility drive that’s updated to 10.5.6, which would boot the laptop, but there is no obvious way to run the “Restore System from Backup” utility without being booted from an install DVD.

Thanks to “seibert” on the PGP forums, it looks like there is a way to run a system restore without needing to be booted from the 10.5 install DVD (though you’ll still need to have one available.) Here’s the procedure:

1. Boot your Mac with a drive that has 10.5.x installed. This volume cannot be the target volume when you restore from Time Machine later.

2. Attach your Time Machine drive or volume.

3. Insert the 10.5 install DVD.

4. Open the Terminal and run the following command:

sudo “/Volumes/Mac OS X Install Disc 1/System/Installation/CDIS/Mac OS X Installer.app/Contents/MacOS/Mac OS X Installer” “/Volumes/Mac OS X Install Disc 1/System/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg”

You may need to replace “Mac OS X Install Disc 1″ with whatever the name of your Leopard installer DVD is. Mine came with my MacBook, so it has this name because there are two disks. sudo is required because the Installer needs root permissions to be be able to set permissions on the target volume when you perform the restoration.

5. The installer will show the usual Leopard installation screen, which you can ignore. Go to the Utilities menu and select “Restore System from Backup”. Follow instructions as you usually would for a Time Machine restore.

“Seibert”‘s procedure was designed for use with a PGP encrypted drive, but this should work with both encrypted and unencrypted Macs.

  1. Tom
    March 13, 2010 at 7:21 am

    This is a very cool trick. I already started my iMac from a different working partition, and I just wanted to run “Restore System from Backup…” while running the mac normally.

    I put in my “Mac OS X Installer DVD” for Snow Leopard and looked around for that utility. (I had to make all the invisible files and folders visible first). But I couldn’t find it! I found “Utilities” folder in the invisible “Applications” folder, and all the usual utilities from the utilities menu when you boot from Install DVD were there, except there isn’t a stand alone utility for “Restore System from Backup…”

    I understand now that I have to run the installer itself from the DVD to get that feature. But I didn’t want my Mac out of commission for 14 hours (it says now while running) because I was booted only from the DVD. Now I’m running the installer Restoring app while booted in regular Snow Leopard. I just hope the installer.app doesn’t mind the multitasking while I restore. I’m watching the Activities Monitor disk activity to monitor the progress and actual read/write speeds.

    This is way cooler than running the Snow Leopard DVD OS where I can’t do anything for 14 hours during the restore. I noticed you posted this a year ago today, and no other comments had been posted yet.

    The following command works for “Mac OS X Install DVD” for Snow Leopard:

    sudo “/Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Installation/CDIS/Mac OS X Installer.app/Contents/MacOS/Mac OS X Installer” “/Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg”

    Note, the quotes are ” and not “ and ”. The straight quote only works, I tried the copy/paste from the above post into the terminal and the slanted start and end quotes pasted instead of the regular ” quote. I guess Unix doesn’t understand the different ascii characters, as it is very Case Sensitive too! (Different ASCII characters for a and A, b and B, etc.) (Also I replaced “Mac OS X Install Disc 1″ with “Mac OS X Install DVD”)

    Thanks for the Hint!

    Tom

    • Tom
      March 13, 2010 at 7:28 am

      I just noticed when posting this post, the quotes changed again! You’ll have to paste it into the terminal then back up and replace the quotes with straight quotes.

      The Command is: (with straight quotes ” ” “)

      sudo “/Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Installation/CDIS/Mac OS X Installer.app/Contents/MacOS/Mac OS X Installer” “/Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg”

      Tom

      • Tom
        March 13, 2010 at 7:32 am

        One more try:

        sudo “/Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Installation/CDIS/Mac OS X Installer.app/Contents/MacOS/Mac OS X Installer” “/Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg”

  2. Lee
    June 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Great tip (after changing quotes)

    This works with the snow leopard DVD


    sudo "/Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Installation/CDIS/Mac OS X Installer.app/Contents/MacOS/Mac OS X Installer" "/Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg"

    Lee

  3. Joachim Schmidt
    July 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I only had a “OSX SL server DVD”, but this trick made the restore run on my SL MacBook :-)

    Thanks!

  4. May 7, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I had some success with this, but ran into a problem. After following the outlined procedure, the permissions/owners of the recovered system were all wrong. I was the owner of everything and everything was in my group and the system wouldn’t boot.

    I ran repair permissions on the recovered system and then was able to boot, but even that wasn’t quite enough. I ended up doing chown -R root . && chgrp -R wheel in /System, /LIbrary, /Applications. Probably this isn’t quite correct, but the recovered system now seems to work.

    Maybe I should have used newgrp -l to get a shell to run the Installer? Or maybe I should have let it boot to the new system (I didn’t).

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