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What to do when your Time Machine backup won’t restore

A client located in Greenwich Village had a Mac Time Machine problem.

She had a MacBook Pro and the hard drive simply stopped working. Luckily she was fully backed up thanks to Time Machine and Time Capsule. As the computer was still under AppleCare warranty, she took it to the Apple Store Soho, where they replaced the drive at no cost.

But when she got back home and attempted to restore her data from her Time Machine backup to the new drive inside her computer, she had a problem. Time Machine wouldn’t restore because the version of the OS before her computer died was OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, so that’s what was on her Time Machine–but the Apple Store only put OS X 10.5 Leopard on the replacement hard drive, because that’s what her MacBook Pro shipped with originally.

So she called us for help. We provided her with phone and email instructions so she could fix the problem herself; here’s how she did it.

  1. She found her Snow Leopard installer DVD and inserted it into her Mac.
  2. She connected her Time Machine drive or Time Capsule to her Mac via ethernet cable.
  3. She restarted the computer while holding down the C key, to force the computer to boot off the DVD installer instead of the internal hard drive.
  4. Once the system started up (which takes awhile, since remember it’s booting off a DVD) she clicked on the Utilities menu at the top, and selected Restore System from Backup.
  5. Then she selected her Time Machine backup as the source of her backup, and then selected her internal hard drive as her destination and clicked Restore.

Her entire Time Machine backup was restored to her new hard drive.

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