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I have a MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2011) -- shipped with Snow Leopard (Lion hadn't come out yet) -- that I need to wipe and reinstall. This is for security/privacy/performance purposes, so the goal isn't to resell as new (or "like new"), only to get it back to stock OS.

Problems:

  1. I've lost the install DVD.

  2. I've read on several forums that there are issues with using the install DVD (or clones of it) for this family of models, something to do with Lion or upgrades in general (not really clear, everyone mentions 3-beep grey screen)

  3. I am on build 10K549, and I know there have been firmware updates since I bought it, so I'm not sure if there is a truly "clean" version of this OS. I'm nervous that a brute force attempt to restore to fresh install of Snow Leopard will result in hardware issues due to these firmware updates (maybe it doesn't matter, which is why I bring it up).

  4. I am not familiar enough with the restore options (either via Disk Utility or Time Machine) to create a recovery/restore disk. I'm sure it's fairly straight forward, but I don't want to waste too much time setting something like that up if it only allows me to restore/boot to the current HD image state.

I need to know for sure that any recovery/restore options available (either through sneaky Terminal approach or friendly Utility -- both of which I'm fine with) will get me to a "clean" state, meaning any Applications, Preferences, Library files, deeper root files, etc, that isn't native/pre-installed for Snow Leopard in general or this machine specifically are gone (meaning I'm also ok with wiping the drive and starting with a fresh install that is newer than the one that shipped, so long as it's a fresh install).

I've done quite a bit of searching, and it seems like there are a lot of pitfalls to either trying to do this in a legit way or hacked approach (or even pirated approach). At this point, I have no ethical issues or moral dilemmas regarding any approach that will get me a clean, working, like-new machine. I know the currently installed copy of the OS is legit, and I know that I value my safety and security over the legal definitions of intellectual property. So any advice is welcome (so long as it's not negative).

Also:

I don't have access to a spare disk (a friend's or whatever). Having read about the 3-beep issue, I'd like to know for sure what disk would work before trying to track down someone else's disk.

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You mention wiping the drive and security/privacy concerns, and you don't mention the data on the drive, so would it be correct to assume you want to secure-erase/re-format the drive without regard to saving any data before installing a clean version of the OS? –  Phil M May 19 '12 at 22:40

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