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We have started to replace hard drives in some MacBook Pros and Airs that are about 3 years old.

We found out the hard way that FileVault encryption requires a recovery parition.

If we install Mountain Lion or Mavericks from the USB installers that we have created, we do not get the option to create the recovery partition.

So far, we have only found 2 methods:

1) Internet Recovery - This takes a long time and usually installs Lion, which then requires an upgrade to Mavericks. After upgrading to Mavericks, the recovery partition will reinstall Lion if the recovery partition is used to reinstall Mac OS X.

2) Take it to the Apple Store - This is not always practical in a business environment.

Is there any other way to do this?

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    USB installers will create recovery partition automatically for you. – nelson Jan 22 '15 at 3:42
  • Hi @nelson. Unfortunately, we are not seeing that. We are using DiskMaker X to create the USB installer for Mountain Lion and Mavericks. – David Killingsworth Jan 22 '15 at 4:22
  • I would not use diskMaker, but Apple recommended USB maker. – Ruskes Jan 22 '15 at 4:29
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    @Buscar웃, Do you have a link to the Apple one and have you used it? – David Killingsworth Jan 22 '15 at 4:37
  • you can create recovery HD manually, download Recovery Update utility support.apple.com/kb/DL1464, extract dmtest, the dmtest tools work for Lion, Montain Lion, Mavericks and even Yosemite. Next extract BaseSystem.dmg and BaseSystem.chunklist from OS X System install App. detest ensureRecoveryPartition could build recovery HD – nelson Jan 22 '15 at 4:50
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In my experience, there is never an "option" to create a Recovery Partition. I've done a number of clean installs from DiskMaker USBs and each of them automagically resulted in recovery partitions being created during the installation process. For me, the typical upgrade process is to either wipe the existing drive or install a new one, use a DiskMaker X-created USB to install the version of OS X desired and then import the required apps, data and user profiles from Time Machine.

This has worked flawlessly with Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks on a variety of systems.

Internet Recovery always installs the version of OS X that was originally shipped with the product. Local Recovery will reinstall the OS X version that was used to create the recovery partition. A typical scenario would be to take a virgin disk installed in a system, boot to a Mavericks USB installer, use Disk Utility to create the install partition and then start the installation process. The OS X installer will resize the partition you created automagically and create the recovery partition. A reinstall from Local Recovery would feature Mavericks in this case.

I understand that you're seeing something different, but I have yet to see an install with Lion or newer that was missing its Recovery Partition when the install was done on a wiped or new HDD. A system with a series of in-place upgrades will miss out on the Recovery Partition, e.g., Snow Leopard to Lion to Mountain Lion, but that does not appear to be the scenario you're discussing.

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  • Thanks for the thorough response. We are in fact starting with either a new hard drive, or completely formatting the hard drive that is in the machine. "use Disk Utility to create the install partition and then start the installation process." This comment makes me think that we are missing a step. What do you use for the initial partitions that you create? Size, Type, etc.? – David Killingsworth Jan 22 '15 at 15:16
  • @DavidKillingsworth, I just meant that on a new HDD that has not been partitioned, OS X generally complains about an install target not being available until one has actually created a partition. In case you're formatting an existing drive, as one would often do with an Air, the partition already exists. I don't think you're missing any steps. Alas, I have no explanation as to why you would find multiple systems not getting a recovery partition during a clean install to a new drive. – Trane Francks Jan 23 '15 at 21:24

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