Saturday, June 21, 2008

Time Machine is Awesome and How to Reset the Administrative Password

The hard drive in my MacBook failed this weekend. I have the worst possible luck when it comes to hard drives. It's the fourth drive that's failed for me in under a year's use.

Thankfully Apple made it easy for me to back up and to restore a system. Time Machine is awesome. I plug my external hard drive in and it backs up my whole system without any hassle. But what was better is how well the restore went, well almost how well it went.

First, I had a new drive put in my MacBook. It's a good thing that hard drives are getting cheaper! And then I installed Leopard. After the base install Leopard kindly asks me if I want to restore from a Time Machine backup, and I say yes. After waiting for my data to copy over I get two surprises.

The first surprise is that my password for login does not work. That's bad; I'll explain the solution after. The second surprise is that after logging in, everything is exactly as it was before the failure. All my documents and settings have been restored. It's amazing how well that part worked.

Now the password bit. I don't know how, but the install seemed to have initialised my account with a password other than what I had set before the failure. Perhaps Time Machine doesn't store passwords? That would make sense from a security perspective, but I would think that the installer should have prompted me for a new one.

But, it turns out that an administrative password can be reset using an installer disc. Pop the disc in, reboot and hold 'c' as boots back up. This will cause it to boot from the disc instead of the hard drive. Then, when the installer pops up, there's a Utilities menu on the top bar. Under that menu is a tool to reset passwords.

After my password was reset, I'm happily again using my MacBook!

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