Leopard Follow-Up: Improved Disk Utility

Last weekend I posted about issues with performing an Upgrade installation of Leopard on one of my MacBook Pros. That machine is happily running Leopard now with all my data fully intact. But I learned something in the process.

I made a backup of my Tiger installation just prior to performing the upgrade and was able to boot to the backup without difficulty. I also used Disk Utility (the Mac’s onboard disk integrity check and repair tool) to check both of the partitions on the computer’s hard drive. Everything checked out, so I went ahead with the upgrade.

As detailed earlier, I ran into the hanging blue screen after installation on the first restart that many other Leopard upgraders experienced. Many people had reported that the problem cleared up for them when they followed one of two methods for removing a Mac OS X customization utility by Unsanity called Application Performance Enhancement (APE). I didn’t have APE installed on my system, but it had been there and uninstalled with leave-behinds. I used Target disk mode to access the hard drive and remove the offending files. That didn’t solve my problem, so I decided to resort to my backup. So I removed the same offending files there just to be safe, wiped my boot volume, and copied my backup to the boot volume. During the copy process I got the error message that I didn’t have rights to copy three or four unnamed files — a message that made no real sense. And it was at that point that I knew I was in for it.

All attempts to reboot into the backup were met with a nasty kernel panic, and none of the boot option key commands worked. So I was out of luck, and I’ll never know for sure what caused the blue screen on that computer. But I did find and fix the probable cause of my backup problem. But first I had to successfully install Leopard.

I decided to perform a clean install of Leopard and then use Apple’s Migration Assistant utility to copy all my data and programs over to Leopard. I’ve used this tool before, and it works exceedingly well. It’s probably the best way for people to upgrade to Leopard, in fact. You get the benefits of a clean install without losing your data. If you’re a .mac subscriber, it’s completely painless, since .mac lets you transfer bookmarks, logins, calendars, address book, mail, and other things from one Mac to another. This time my Leopard installation went off without a hitch. I was able to import all my user data and programs from the flawed Tiger backup without causing any problems whatsoever. I was a happy camper. My only concern was why I had run into trouble.

I decided to run various diagnostics again, and an intersesting thing happened. When I ran Leopard’s version of Disk Utility, it quickly found and fixed a pretty large problem with the primary boot partition. I can only surmise that the disk problem created some sort of corruption with my backup set.

Footnote: The disk partition on this computer was created with an older version of iPartition by Coriolis Software, which is on my A-List of Mac Software. Some readers have written to tell me that iPartition has created problems on their hard drives similar to the one I experienced — although I’m not blaming iPartition for this problem. There are too many other possibilities. (The partition was created about a year ago.) But I am testing a product called Drive Genius that offers partitioning functionality, and I will report on that in the future.

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