These days, when it isn’t doing anything important or downloading something or other, I normally turn off my iMac for the night and just turn it back on when I get up. It was like that this morning—although the iMac wouldn’t turn on at all. Or rather, to be more specific, it refused to boot up.
Damn. What the hell was going on?
The 27″ iMac has been a loyal and dependable computer ever since I got it some years ago. Nary a problem in all the months and years I’ve been using it. I hardly even turned it off the first couple of years I’ve had it, and the computer soldiered on without a complaint.
Until this morning. This morning, it stayed on the gray bootup screen forever, and refused to start. Great. Bright and early on the first of August, and it does this. Was it trying to tell me something?
I spent a couple of hours trying to fix it. On the off-chance it was a transient problem, I tried starting up again and again, but it just stayed on that gray screen, and I wasted the first hour doing this.
Frustrated, I dug out my bootable USB flash drive of El Capitan, which I have never had to dig out in living memory, and used its Disk Utility to try and repair the hard drive of the iMac. The system had reported errors that prevented bootup when I checked it using the Recovery Drive partition. So I repaired the drive, or so I thought, but still it refused to go. I went and had breakfast and thought over what I was going to do next.
I had no choice.
I had to erase the drive, reinstall the OS and restore from my Time Machine backup. That’s what the TM backup was for, wasn’t it? Granted, I never really had any use for it until today; it was just something rote that I did, and it backed up my system every hour on the hour in case something like this happened. It was on a large, dedicated external USB drive, and that was all it did, backing up the entire system time and again in case something catastrophic happened.
Today was that day. I’m so so glad I kept a backup all this time. I was supposed to go out and pay some bills this morning, but I figured this took precedence. The bills can wait. So I rolled up my sleeves (figuratively), and got to work.
This required a fresh install: I had to bootup from the USB installer, access Disk Utility, erase the iMac’s drive, and then reinstall from there. I did this instead of just recovering the drive (which was a much quicker process) so that I could flush out any additional hidden, budding problems on the hard drive that may have cropped up in the intervening months and years of uninterrupted use.
But this meant it was going to take me the entire goddamn morning. Reinstalling the OS would take a relatively short time, about half an hour, but restoring my old system from the Time Machine backup would take forever. Or at least a few hours.
And so it did. The software estimates three to four hours to completely restore my 350GB system, and it’s doing that now. Which leaves me with nothing to do while it does its thing.
So I dug out my MacBook Pro and am now using that to write this busywork blog entry.
Sigh. But at least I can recover the system. That’s the important thing.