My not-quite-two-year-old son dropped my laptop the other day after I left it unattended for a few minutes. The end result was an ominous clicking sound that I instantly knew meant the hard drive was gone.
I'm pretty serious about backing up. I have too many pictures of my children that I couldn't stand to lose. In the end, I didn't lose a thing. But I figured I'd reflect on the process and Apple's pretty outstanding set up for recovery.
When my wife bought her MacBook Air this summer, I decided to purchase an Apple Time Capsule, too. It was hard enough for me to remember to plug my portable hard drive into my laptop for Time Machine to back up. I couldn't imagine both my wife and I remembering. Time Capsule seemed like a good option for us.
I've never had to restore from a Time Capsule. And I've never had to restore after replacing a hard drive. My MacBook Pro is new enough, that it didn't ship with system disks and instead supports Internet Recovery. Never done that before either.
(I'll be honest. I was freaking out. Even though I knew I had backed up everything, I was still anxious to see all my files.)
iFixIt had great step-by-step instructions. I swapped the hard drive out after an adventure with Best Buy. (I'll leave that rant for another blog post.) And started the Internet Recovery process. On restart, the computer lets you select your wireless network and then you download a slimmed down OS X that lets you boot up, use Disk Utility or restore from your Time Capsule. I formatted the new hard drive, found my Time Machine back up, clicked restore and waited.
It obviously took a very long while to download the contents of my old hard drive. I should have plugged the laptop directly into the ethernet port on the back of the Time Capsule to speed things up, but didn't think of it until after the restore had started.
In the end, the upgrade process was as smooth as replacing a hard drive can be. Internet Recovery is slick and really helpful. Not having to hunt for old system CDs when you're in a panic is great. And once you boot up in to Internet Recovery mode, you have all the options that you need.
As easy as the process is, I would imagine that a novice would still be completely intimidated by this. But if you back up regularly with Time Capsule, you can rest assured that your data is safe and someone will be able to help you recover it.