Sep 22, 2011

Mac recovery partion: revisited

Update (Oct 23, 2010): readers posted a lot of valuable comments to this article. Make sure you read them at the bottom of this page.
Some time ago I wrote an article about recreating a Lion recovery partition. The way described in hat article was very technical, complicated and risky.
While any way of adjusting partitions is risky, I found a safer way to recreate recovery partition after my Mac crashed again (looks like its life time is coming to an end). Here is how I did it the second time.

Sep 20, 2011

Life principles

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

-- Buddha

Sep 14, 2011

How to create a Mac OS X Lion recovery partition

Update (Oct 23, 2010): while this article still provides a working way to (re)create the recovery partition, I now recommend a simpler way. But if you decide to go with the way described here, make sure you read comments too! This article was written by extracting shell commands from a list of many successful and unsuccessful commands. Therefore there are some mismatches in numbers in this article. However the workflow is correct. If you use this article, you should carefully calculate your own numbers. But really, use the other way. It is easier and less risky.
Recently my old (42 months) Macbook Pro had a problem and I had to restore it completely from the Apple Time Machine backup. This Macbook is my primary instrument, so I do everything to keep its information safe and alive.
As a part of being "safe", I always encrypt my hard drive. Before Lion I used PGP Whole Disk Encryption. It was a bad experience (2x slower, troubles after each OS X update, etc) but it worked. With Lion I happily threw away PGP without being sorry at all and encrypted my hard disk with new shiny FileVault2. FileVault2 also encrypts the whole disk and requires a pre-boot authentication to unlock the drive. Information cannot be recovered without a proper password.
After recent crash and recovery from a Time Machine, I went to encrypt my drive again. But now Lion showed me a message that my disk cannot be encrypted because it does not meet the requirements for FileVault2. I knew what was the problem. FileVault2 requires a hidden "recovery" partition that Apple creates on the disk. It seems like I did not have that. Searching the Internet revealed that if I install a clean system, recovery partition is silently created. However, if I restore from a Time Machine Backup, it is not created.
This is bad news. I need FileVault2. So I have to make that recovery partition in some way.