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I'm having a problem with Office not installing correctly and not being able to update. I have one last resort which is Backing up and formatting my system. However I would like to know how effective is Time Machine for the following two points :

  • Will I be able to restore "EVERY" application without the need of re-installing items ?? For example, I have python installed with many modules that take ages to get them all working together. Would I need to repeat this process after cleaning my machine and using the backup to restore ?
  • Office has been corrupted after deleting it. Now it fails to install correctly and update. What is the chance that the corruption would be copied over to the backup file, rendering the whole process of formatting my machine to "fix" the issue useless ?
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Just earlier today, I had to restore my entire comp from a Time Machine backup, thanks to Apple replacing my defective Seagate 1 TB HD (apple.com/support/imac-harddrive). In 2 hours, Time Machine had re-installed Mt Lion, and loaded my entire backup with 270 GB of data. All but one piece of software and all files that I have accessed thus far in tact and up to date. Only thing that I had to re-connect was the Messages app to my phone number/Apple ID. –  tarheel Nov 30 '12 at 5:47
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3 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Time Machine backs up everything and restores everything.

When Time Machine backs up, it first copies all of the files exactly from your hard drive (and any other disks) to your chosen backup disk. Nothing is excluded unless explicitly specified. This answers your question concerning losing your Python modules.

After first backup, Time Machine hard links your files to another backup folder named by time and date. This means that it creates a duplicate of all of the files it created on first backup to the next backup without taking up more space. It's a lot like an alias or shortcut, but the difference between the original and a hard linked file is indistinguishable in Finder. Therefore, it efficiently changes all the files that were actually changed since first backup.

Using Command-R to bring up Disk Utility from Recovery options, formatting the disk, and restoring from Time Machine was painless and I did not lose a single file.

Since it copies all files exactly, it will transfer your "corrupt" Office files to the new drive. However, you can select Repair Disk to clear up any issues with permission errors, etc.

But, honestly, I don't think that it's worth restoring from Time Machine unless you've tried completely removing Microsoft Office for Mac 2011.

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I've tried everything, and yeah it seems that Time Machine will most likely just carry the corrupted files. Thank you though. –  Render Nov 30 '12 at 10:28
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Whoa, that's a way last resort. You don't have a computer problem, you have a Microsoft problem. Move all Microsoft preference files (plist and plist.lockfile) from both ~/Library/Prefences and ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost, and from /Library/Preferences, to the Trash.

Any Ofice apps in Applications or the whole Microsoft Office folder, move to trash or zip and store in /Users/Shared. Same with Microsoft folder in /Library/Application Support. Start with a clean state.

Log out, maybe even Restart, and try installing again. Sometimes just getting a fresh copy of Microsoft AutoUpdate into /Libary/ApplicationSupport/Microsoft/MAU2.0/ gets it all working, along with letting the apps build fresh Preferences--let MAU find and install updates.

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Does it make a difference that I do not have a Microsoft folder in /Library/Application Support, it is however in ~/Library/Application Support ?? Oh and please update your answer with the following new details here apple.stackexchange.com/questions/72575/… ~ maybe even continue discussion there. Would really appreciate it, maybe you can help me figure this thing out. –  Render Nov 30 '12 at 10:35
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In /Library/App Support/MS Folder are 4 folders: /MAU2.0/MS AutoUpdate.app /MERP2.0/MS Error Reporting.app & MS Ship Assets.app /PlayReady/ (empty) /Silverlight/OutOfBrowser/SLLauncher.app /verison.txt (reads: 5.1.10411.0)

In ~/Lib/App Support/Microsoft are 2 folders: /Office at 2.1MB /Silverlight/various db folders

These ought to be moved to desktop too, to get a reinstall working, as they contains preferences files & other things that might signal to the Installer that Office is already installed or the disk ineligible.

What are you trying to install from?

This is a really good argument for having a SuperDuper clone of your whole disk on a portable USB.

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I always delete those files before I re-install office. I already did that more than 5 times now, no solution is working. I delete those MS folders to start fresh. However I never noticed the Silverlight folder, would that be causing the problem ? I am trying to install from the downloads folder. –  Render Dec 1 '12 at 18:08
    
Oh I just noticed that Silverlight is in MS folder itself, which I also delete...So i'm still stuck here –  Render Dec 1 '12 at 18:21
    
Okay, maybe time for a fresh download. That does happen, disk images come down corrupted. You could run Disk Utility on it if curious - or just replace. –  Zo219 Dec 1 '12 at 23:04
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