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For the past couple of weeks I have noticed that my Mac has been unusually slow and dragging a bit.  So I took to the world wide web to read up on it.  What I found was that people who use their Mac a lot will do what is called a restore of their computer.  That is where they basically wipe their whole computer of what is on there and then reload it again.  This is supposed to take out all the little things that are making your computer slow and taking up space.  My fear in doing this is that I had no way of knowing if I would get all my apps back that I had bought.  So I did more research to see what people were doing for this.  A lot of people had a huge external drive and were making copies of their hard drive on it and then reloading that once they wiped everything out.  This made sense to me, but I didn’t have the resources to do this, but I did have a Time Capsule.  The other thing is I really couldn’t find was an easy way to follow how to restore my computer.  I saw a lot of different ways, but only a few that really made sense to me.  I am hoping the following will give you an easy way to do this if you so desire.   The following is my experience, successful, I may add, after a couple of hiccups, restoring my Mac.

What I first did was I backed up all of my “important stuff” on my external hard drive.  This was my music, pics, applications, and documents.  I did this just in case the restore didn’t go as planned and at least I would still have all of these things.  My plan at first was to wipe my computer and reinstall Snow Leopard and then transfer all my important stuff from my external drive to my refreshed Mac.  If that didn’t work, then I had the Time Capsule as a backup plan to get my stuff back.  Here is my step by step process

1.  Insert your Start up Disk, whether it be Snow Leopard or Leopard.

2.  You then need to restart your computer, while you are restarting, make sure you press “C”.  The reason for doing this is because you will then boot the computer from the disc.  Hold down “C’ until you see the Apple Logo.  You will then be guided through the install process.

3.  Once you choose your language, you will be asked to reinstall the OS.  At this point look at the top menu bar and look for “Utilities”.  Click on it and you will see a drop down menu.  Click on “Disk Utility”.  This will start the process of erasing everything on your computer.

IMPORTANT: Before you do this, PLEASE make sure you have your hard drive backed up on a Time Capsule or an external drive.  If it is on an external drive you have to be sure it is a cloned copy of it and not just dragged and dropped over.  Here is an article on how to do this.

4.  When you are in the Disk Utility you are going to want to click on the Erase Tab.  You will also want to click on your hard drive in the menu on the left as shown in the pic below.

5.  Now click on the “Erase” button.  This will bring up a menu for you to choose what kind of erase options you want to choose.  I personally chose the “Zero Out Data” option.  I think this will work fine for you to get everything off.  If you really want to make sure, you can choose the “7-pass Erase”, but I don’t see a need for it.

6.  Now you wait and wait………..  The Mac at this point is erasing all of your data.  So, now you are at the point of no return.

7.  Once this process is done, you can now begin the actual restore process.  This is where it got interesting for me.

8.  What I first did was install Snow Leopard, then I thought I could just drag and drop all of my important stuff that I saved on my external drive onto my new install and everything would be fine.  This was not the case.  My mac did not recognize my applications that I dragged and dropped over from my external drive and saw them as brand new applications and so if I had paid for one before it was seeing it as I didn’t pay for it.  Not good, I wasn’t about to start all over like this.  So it was time to move to Plan B, restore from the Time Capsule.

9.  There are a couple of ways to do this.  You can either install Snow Leopard and then use the Migration Assistant to migrate your info from Time Capsule to your computer.  For some reason this way didn’t work for me.  When I went online to read about it, it seemed like it worked for some and didn’t for others.  So I resorted to the following:

10.  When I got ready to reinstall Snow Leopard again, I clicked on the “Utilities in the top menu bar.  Then I clicked on “Restore System from Backup”.  This will then begin the process of restoring your Mac from a backup, whether it be an external drive or your Time Capsule.  Since I have a Time Capsule, that is what I chose.  If you have an external drive with a cloned copy of your hard drive, you select that instead.

11.  If you are using a Time Capsule, you will be asked to select a backup that you want to restore from.  I just selected the most recent one since I knew it was current with everything I needed.  Once you finish this, the Mac will now restore your computer back to it’s original setting.

IMPORTANT:  Make sure before you start this process that you have your ethernet cable plugged in.  This helps make the restoration process go by a little faster.

For my Mac, it took about 5 hours for it to go through this process.  So don’t fret if it takes a while.  Once the process is done, you will be asked to restart your computer.  At this point, your computer should look just the way it looked before you started this process with everything in the same place.

So why go through this long process?  Well, the more you use your computer and the more things you download the more bogged down your computer gets.  Every once in a while it is a good idea to give it a nice clean.  I was able to get about 9 GB’s of space back in this process and things seemed to run a little smoother and snappier.  After going through this process I have found that it is really not as bad as I had anticipated.  I had feared for the worst, which was that I would lose everything.  But I found that as long as I have everything probably backed up onto a Time Capsule or an external drive, I should be okay.  But at the same time, that is the key, everything NEEDS to be PROPERLY backed up.  Again, if you don’t have a Time Capsule, go to this article to help you if you plan to use an external drive.   Then you can continue with the process I gave you.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or you can hit me up on Twitter at shaun_27.