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The installer for 'El Capitan' stops and says

"File system verify or repair failed. Quit the installer to restart your computer and try again."

It shows a "Restart" button. When I restart, it gets back to exactly the same place again.

How do I quit the installer so it doesn't start again upon boot?

I tried holding command-s on restart (from here), but that did nothing.

I do not have a recent system disk available.

Edit: I shut down completely. Let it stay powered off for 30 seconds. Restart holding down command-r (as noted here and in one answer below). It chimes, goes through 3/4 of one progress bar, starts another progress bar, goes through half, then says "Install OS X" and looks exactly like the (failing) 'El Capitan' upgrade. It has ignored my command-r I believe. This page says "It's possible that you didn't press Command-R early enough. Restart and try again." I think that is unlikely, since I held it down right from the start.

Edit 2: Restart has a menu, with "Disk Utilities", "Terminal", etc. When I try to quit the installer, it wants me to choose another startup disk. Once it didn't like "Macintosh HD" as a choice, but then on a second round it was fine. When I try to repair the disk, I get "file system check exit code is 8", so I think the disk is hard to repair, (perhaps because it is mounted?). I have an external drive, but it has the backup, so I don't know how to make it a bootable drive. In /var/log/install.log there is "WARNING: 997: Failure to setup sound, err = -50", but I think that is not important.

The really weird thing is looking in /var/log/install.log it says (paraphrased without all the dates, etc. because I can't type it all):

The volume Macintosh HD appears to be OK.
File system check exit code is 0.
Repair completed successfully.
...
Attaching disk image /Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD 1/BaseSystem.dmg
Evaluating 1 disks
OS X Base System is a valid target.
...
Shrinking host partition and creating new recovery partition
...
Verifying file system.
Using live mode.
Performing live verification.
Checking Journaled HFS Plus volume.
Checking extents overflow file.
...
Checking volume bitmap.
The volume Macintosh HD could not be verified completely.
File system check exit code is 8.
Detaching Base System disk image.
Evaluating 1 disks.
..
Ensure recovery failed.
Operation: Ensure recovery system failed, Failure Reason: Error Domain=com.apple.DiskManagement Code=-69845 "File system verify or repair failed."

It makes it look like maybe the downloaded image is corrupted? But why would it have started the install if the image was corrupted? And why is it ignoring my command-r upon restart?

Edit 3: I managed to choose "Macintosh HD" as the boot drive, and boot back into the old system. It seems fine, but I still have no idea how to upgrade successfully.

Edit 4: I am upgrading from snow leopard, so a lot of these options won't work. I appreciate everyone's help. The answer to this question was, "Notice there is an installer menu. Choose quit from the installer menu. If it won't allow you to choose 'Macintosh HD', reboot a few times until it does." If someone submits that, I'll accept it.

  • If you boot to recovery HD, you can open terminal and look at /var/log/install.log - if you've started the install - you're past the point of easily reusing the old OS. The main decision point for you is how recent is your backup? – bmike Oct 5 '15 at 17:14
  • What is "recovery HD"? You mean a separate hard drive? How do I boot to it? I would be happy to look at /var/log/install.log to see more about what's happening. Backups are recent (backed up before I started), but it's not my computer, so who knows if they set the right backup paths, etc. Much better to preserve the drive if I can. – dfrankow Oct 5 '15 at 17:22
  • apple.com/osx/recovery is the place to start. Any search here on recovery should get you going as well – bmike Oct 5 '15 at 17:32
  • i wound up here b/c i was replacing my old spinning drive with an SSD and just could not get it to work. i believe that the cause in my case will be that the firmware needs updating. – the0ther Jan 4 '16 at 20:28
2

I wrote a blog post on some options, and you should be able to boot to your Recovery HD and re-install some OS X onto an external drive. You could also try to re-instal the OS on top of the current drive as that's not designed to delete anything important and might just work to painlessly repair things.

Without knowing how proficient you are with more advanced install options, installing even on to a 16 GB USB flash drive would get you to a place to re-run the correct installer and try again with the upgrade. From the second link:

If you use the Recovery System stored on your startup drive to reinstall OS X, it installs the most recent version of OS X previously installed on this computer

  • I am upgrading from Snow Leopard, which doesn't have Recovery as it turns out. Thanks. – dfrankow Oct 5 '15 at 20:36
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Try holding the Option key on restart (once you hear the boot chime) until images of hard drives appear, then choose your hard drive from the list, it's default name is "Macintosh HD", but you may have renamed it. Boot into it by pressing enter.

If that doesn't work, hold down the power button until the Mac is off, then turn it back on and repeat the above answer.

  • It turns out there was a menu up top out of which I eventually could quit the restarter (after several tries), thanks. – dfrankow Oct 5 '15 at 20:37
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I almost gave up on my hard drive and almost wiped it clean.

Background: I upgraded the archaic spin drive to a 1tb SSD in 2013 iMac months ago. Something possessed me last night to hit upgrade to High Sierra.

The download went fine but when I said install the computer got stuck in the loop, of can't install the update because "your computer file system verify or repair failed" and no matter what I did I could not get out of this loop. I tried to boot form recover, boot form USB with sierra installer, tried to repair the hard drive which gave me errors like File system check exit code is 8, I tried single user mode, I tried network recovery..... like I said I tried everything. My plan was to dig up the old spinning hard drive to restore an image form it, albeit it few months old but better than nothing. Of course I do not have a backup because I said to myself this is an SSD on a mac what could go wrong, well I learned that lesson. Bottom line what needed to happen was enable journaling of the hard drive, something that was greyed out and was impossible to do. Installing a fresh OS was also not working because the computer would say the drive is locked. Enough of the problem here is the solution.

I bought a thunderbolt cable to connect the iMac to my trusted MacBook Pro. I then installed Disk Warrior software on a MacBook pro. Then I booted the iMac while holding down the t key, which allowed the MacBook to see the iMac as an external drive. Disk Warrior scanned the iMac's hard drive, rebuilt its directory and enabled journaling. I then unmounted the iMac from the MacBook and rebooted the iMac normally, and viola, high Sierra installation proceeded and 40 minutes later I am back to normal. I am considering this post and pay back for all the help I got from searching the net for hours on this issues.

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Force-restart in to Internet Recovery and use that to run disk utility. If that doesn't fix your disk you might have broken hardware.

  • I am upgrading from Snow Leopard, no Internet Recovery. Thanks. – dfrankow Oct 5 '15 at 20:36
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Notice there is an installer menu.

Choose quit from the installer menu.

If it won't allow you to choose 'Macintosh HD', restart (and go through the whole failed install) until it does.

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I had the same problem, my issue was that Macintosh HD was formatted as Mac OS X Extended instead of the (Journaled).

  • Actually this answer contains a good hint. I have the same problem with encrypted instead of journaled. – Waqar Lim Dec 21 '16 at 12:05
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Use the DVD that came with the MacBook Pro:

  • Start using the original DVD by holding down Option Key during startup.

  • Then go to Disk Utility and repair disk.

  • Restart the macbook normally and this time it will upgrade the OS nicely.

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