I decided last night to finally let the Apple update software download and update my Apple MacBook Pro. I received the Pro a little less than a month ago and immediately upgraded it to "Leopard" which is OS X v10.5. As with all of the modern operating systems, OS X includes a tool that notifies you of software updates, security patches, and other updates to the OS.
Last week I went to Georgia to visit relatives and play with the newest members of our family. Before doing that, I took a moment to look at the Apple forums to see if anyone was having issues with the OS X v10.5.1 update. Sure enough, there are quite a few problems. The problem is that I mostly forgot about those checks and when I pushed the button last night, I was in denial. There’s no way that could happen to me. Not the kid. No way.
You know that little sixth sense that tells you not to do something? Most good IT Pros have it. That’s why we’re Pros. Well, pay close attention to that sense. I didn’t.
More importantly, I broke a cardinal rule. I didn’t run a backup first. I mean come on. This is Apple with those cool Vista versus Mac commercials. There’s no way in hell they would dare release an update that would cause a catastrophic failure of my Mac. Right?
So what happened exactly? Heck if I know. All I know is that the Apple app said it had an update for iPhoto and OS X that would require a reboot. Let’s see, I wonder how many updates I’ve applied to Windows XP and Windows Vista in the last 5-6 years that required a reboot. I have never cratered a Windows machine such that it would not do anything other than boot from DVD. Sure, I’ve had blue screens on bad video drivers but those are exceedingly rare now. I’ve had to boot to safe mode a few times.
I take that back. I cratered a Windows Server drive one time. I shut down my Windows Vista machine in a hurry, pulled the drive out of my laptop, and popped another drive into the laptop with Windows Server 2003 on it. Just as I popped the drive in and it connected, I noticed Vista wasn’t really done shutting down and it wrote to my server drive. You ever have that sinking feeling in a moment like that? I knew, just knew bad stuff happened. Sure enough, that drive got whacked somehow by the write. Good thing I had a dupe of those demos.
Back to the story on OS X. I messed around with the machine doing drive diags and such. I knew this wasn’t a hardware failure. I knew a kernel component or something got replaced or hammered and was missing. I started to take it down to my local genius bar and say, "Here genius, you fix it!!!" But I’ll be darned if I’m going to let an OS X update hose my Mac and get away with it.
What to do?
When the tough get going, the tough restore. Yea, I punted. I figured the only way out of this mess was to resort to a backup from Time Machine. Sure enough, I had several to choose from. The last good one was from 11/13 so I thought about what I would lose. Since I didn’t take the Mac to Georgia, I knew not much. In fact, the only thing I added was a new version of the Messenger:mac beta I’m testing. That’s all I lost by using the backup.
Which brings me to a point. Are you backing up? I know many people who don’t. Imagine losing the hard drive of your Mac or Windows machine right now.
Let that sit on your brain for a moment…
Can you afford to lose EVERYTHING on that hard drive? Your email. Your pictures. The serial numbers for electronic copies of software you purchased. Your music. The doctorate you’ve been working on for months and months. The proposal and presentation you are delivering tomorrow that might make or break your company and job. Scared? Good. Go buy an external hard drive tomorrow and plug it into your machine and do a backup. Do one every Sunday night before you travel on Monday.
Whenever my Mac gets used during the daylight hours, I plug in the Time Machine dedicated drive and let it do it’s thing. It’s a good thing I do. Saved my bacon. Back up and running in less than an hour. I’m still upset. I never expected such a catastrophic failure. I guess I should not be surprised at this point. My Mac has been far from bug free. I crashed it day one with Time Machine. I crashed it twice trying to work with HD video. Now this.
Somebody needs to re-write some commercials I know…
[UPDATE] Sorry, but I just couldn’t help adding a reference to "Leopard is the New Vista, and It’s Pissing Me Off". I’m pretty sure there are some inaccurate statements in the article, but it’s a worthy read. Summary, there’s work to do in the Apple and Microsoft houses.