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Macintosh OS/Mac Reinstall of Mountain Lion Failure


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My computer has lost a lot of its functionality after a reinstall of Mountain Lion. I have been doing regular backups doing Time Machine and I have the disk and all looks good there. I have read and understand PRETTY well (don't quiz me) the stuff on restores and migration.

I have a late 2007 powerbook that originally was installed with leopard. I still have all those disks. I am living currently in Guayaquil, Ecuador. This is a big city, and there is a Mac repair place within a couple of miles here. They have done a little bit of work for me, and I think it was competent, but I am not sure that they have dealt with this particular situation before so I wanted to ask an online expert for advice.

It is my habit to not upgrade my operating system unless Apple or an application that I want to use requires it. Thus, I am far from an "early adopter".

I am only telling you all this in that I don´t know what is important for you to know. So I am going to tell you what I believe you should know. You can ask for further details of course.

I only personally have the original discs that came with my computer when I bought it new. These are all the installation discs and misc. stuff that came with leopard. I still have all this in excellent condition. I upgraded to snow leopard through a store here and was not given any discs. The store said that they did not have the new discs to give me. My spanish is not yet up to competently clarifying things like this, so I let it drop.

Then I was having trouble with some apps that required upgrading my operating system again. I went to another Mac store and they upgraded the system to Lion. That went well, too. Again, I could not get the discs that they used. They told me at that time that they could not upgrade the machine to mountain lion. But the machine ran well after that install.

Then people started sending me stuff in photostream, and I found that I could not accept these with lion. I looked online and found that my machine was capable of being upgraded, and I installed the upgrade and the machine ran very well for a couple of months in Mountain Lion. This was installed over the net through Apple´s store.

I installed a few more apps. I am not sure when it happened, but the machine started to slow considerably. Most frustrating was that after every restart, the grey screen with the Apple logo would seem to stall for as long as 10 minutes before going to the users panel.

I read up on this and saw that repair disk was an idea. So I repaired the disk and it ran better, but still that annoying long long reboot time.

So, I read up a little more and came to the conclusion that reinstalling mountain lion was a good idea. I wish that I had read more! What I am encountering now is pretty much like all the things mentioned in this article:

The internal disk utility did not allow me a repair, but did allow a verify, and (different from the thread above) no red error messages were reported. But every time I tried to reboot out of there and get back to my drive, I was unsuccessful. Option held down on restart brought up my internal drive as locked, safe boot did not get all the way through, it would seem to get part of the way into a load and then turn off the machine. Command R just brought me back to the same choices of restore, reformat new install, etc.

So, with my less-than expert understanding of solutions that are online, I put in a 17 gig pen drive and formatted that and put the operating system on that. And the system downloaded and gives me read only access to my documents on my internal drive. It seems that many of the applications on my hard drive are not accessable though, perhaps all. I can see them, they are there, but none of the ones that I have attempted will load.  

So, I just want to know what´s the fastest way to get rolling again with minimal expense? I can not really afford a new drive here, as all electronic things seem to cost 50% to 200% more here due to taxes and tariffs.

The internal disk is 300GB. There is about 45GB free. The external drive has one partition for backups and 300 partitioned for old files from an older pc. I COULD take that partitioned 300 and transfer those files to another pc. (When I attempted to restore from my last save, it would not let me restore to my internal disk but would allow me to restore to this partitioned space (the 300 GB partition where the old pc files reside.)

Could you tell me the best way to do things here? I am imagining that I could reformat the current internal disk and then install mountain lion from the internet. Would that work on a late 2007 machine? or would I have to reinstall leopard from my discs and then go about a series of upgrades?

I am attaching an image from Disk Utility showing the current layout. A question is, should you instruct me to reformat the internal drive, should I click on where it says 320.07 GB WDC WD320... or below where it says HD320? (Disk 1 and Disk 2 are the operating system on the 17GB pen drive.)

I have never used allexperts before so do not know when/where/if I will be presented with a bill for any service you give me. I thought that I would be presented with something like that by now. Maybe I missed it? At any rate, I am happy to recompense you for help.


There's no bill. Yup, I've been giving away help here for years.

I'm a little confused about your situation.

If 10.8 (mountain lion) has worked well for you, then yes, we can do a reinstallation of it. You should have discs for 10.5, 10.6;
10.7 and 10.8 were electronic downloads (but couple be placed on a thumb drive or other storage mechanism.

• What exactly do you have? What are you trying to keep? Your user information?
• It sounds like you have a 300 Gig drive in your laptop...and I'm unclear what else. Could you tell me what storage you have?
ª Are you able to boot at all?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello and thank you for your replies thus far. Also, many thanks for all those years of assistance to others. I am sure they appreciate what you have done for them. I know I do!

I hope this makes my situation more clear:

My computer is currently down. I have mountain lion running  from a flash drive in a usb port and can only access my documents in read only. None of the apps other than Mac apps that are part of a new install seem to be working.   

The major events immediately preceding this situation:

I downloaded and installed Mountain Lion via the app store a couple of months ago. Worked well.

Apps added and (I am not sure when) system slows. Most notably on reboot, a close-to-10-minute hangup at grey screen with Apple logo before going to users panel.

Disk Utility Disk Repair seems to resolve general system speed but slow reboot prevails. I then reinstalled Mountain Lion through the app store.

I did the reinstall and the Installer runs on existing OS X installation, and then reboots the computer, After reboot the installation continues, at some point the installer reports that my internal drive is faulty and that the reinstallation would be stopped.  

This is almost exactly the same behavior that is outlined here, 'cept for I did not get the red error reports in the disk utility verify:

After this failed install, I was no longer able to access my hard drive, other than through disk utility, where I could only do all the disk utility operations.

So, I inserted a flash drive and installed mountain lion to the flash drive and now I can access my documents in my hard drive but in read-only and my apps do not seem to work. (I have not tried them all, but I have tried several apps and they do not work.)

I tried to do a back up restore but it would not allow me to do that to my internal drive, it would allow me to do restore to a partitioned area in my back up drive. (I have not done that.)

I am not certain, but I feel that my internal drive is not in fact corrupted but that the installer has made it currently inaccessible via permissions changed. (as the person in the article above surmised.)

I want to know what would be best. I THINK (I am not confident that this is best, just seems so to me... and I don't know if if would work.):

1. Erase my internal disk. (Not certain EXACTLY how to do this. If you look at the image I sent you earlier you will see that the internal disk SEEMS to have two sections;  320.07 GB WDC WD320... and HD320. Which should I highlight before I press the erase button?)

I am thinking that I will only be able to restore functionality to this disk by reformatting it. Maybe I got that wrong.

2. Clean install of Mountain Lion. (Would I need to reinstall Leopard and all intermediate operating systems to do this? Or could I immediately reinstall directly to Mountain Lion?) Would it be a better idea to stop at Lion and not go beyond that? I could forego Photostream -- the only application that I wanted to use that required Mountain Lion.

If that was at all unclear... the very main thing that I need is a functioning Mac as soon as possible. Ideally without a reinstall from discs of my applications. Most of what I have were downloaded from the net and I do not have discs for them. I can re-download them again of course... but they are already on my machine and in time machine and I would rather not hassle over this.

Got some ideas?


Thanks for the extra information.

If Mountain Lion will not install on that disk, it's likely that after this many years the disk is bad. At this point, I do not trust it.

You don't have two drives. Starting with Lion (10.7) Apple created a small partition for diagnostics and recovery. So 'disk 2' isn't a second drive, but a backup of some key portions of OSX. Ignore it.

You said it's urgent that you have a working system. You do not need the older discs to install Mountain Lion, but you will need a bootable drive with 10.8 on it. I think you said your USB Stick can do this for you? Is this the case?

My two suggestions:

1) Replace the internal drive. Install Mountain Lion. Then you can perform 'migration assistant' and recover much of your User information (pictures, music etc) from your Time Machine Backup.

2) Purchase a separate external drive (DO NOT USE YOUR TIME MACHINE DRIVE). Install OSX on the external drive then you can perform 'migration assistant' and recover much of your User information (pictures, music etc) from your Time Machine Backup.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Well, your reply helped considerably as I thought I might have to do all those intermediate upgrades! I erased my hard drive with disk utility, installed Mountain Lion successfully and then used Migration Assistant to access time machine and get all  my files and apps to the new installation. Success!

A few difficulties though. Profiles for chrome and Firefox are missing and Safari thinks that my drive is full when I attempt to download! I have tried already most of the fixes recommended on the first page of search engine results descrining my situation. No luck. Can you help with this?


I do not trust your internal hard drive. At all. At 6 years (2007, right?) it's probably dying.

The place where the chrome and firefox profiles are located is inside of your hidden user Library. I don't know of a safe way realistically to instruct you to try to recover those specific portions. It's complex and my fear is that they're damaged (your time machine was backing up a damaged system.)  It may be best to just start over (Both chrome and firefox have online cloud based backups for the future where you can sync all your information.)

You can try doing a fix permissions in disk utility to see if it fixes Safari.

Dan - please hear me - I think the drive is dying and putting your personal valuable information on it is unsafe.

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Jeff Greenberg


I can comfortably answer most basic/advanced questions regarding Macintosh hardware and software - nowadays only OSX. In fact, if it's prior to 10.3, there's a good chance I'll reject your question. Forget OS9 stuff - Igave up OS 9 ten years ago). Please do not ask me about OS9. My particular specialties are in Video editing/DVD authoring. I am a certified trainer in the "pro apps" (Final Cut, DVDSP, Soundtrack, Motion). I have been using Macs since 1985.


I'm an Apple Cert. Trainer for FCP, DVD SP, since the inception of this program. I've was
certified as an Apple Cert. Technician back in 1989.

Videography, Macworld, Tibits

BA film- Penn State. Certifications from Apple, Adobe and Avid for training.

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