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I royally screwed up today.

Long story short, in trying to help my wife fix a bug she was having in an app on her iMac, I accidentally executed an rm -rf ~/Library/Preferences. This blew away all the settings in her various applications. She is a wedding photographer, so I essentially reset her Lightroom back to defaults along with a flurry of other photo apps.

Woops.

She has Time Machine backing up to an external HDD. Luckily, there is a full backup from about 1 hour prior to my huge mistake. I want to restore back to this full image.

What I tried

1) I rebooted her iMac and held down Cmd + R. OSX Utilities came up.

2) I selected "Restore From Time Machine Backup"

3) On the "Select a Backup Source" screen, I chose her external HDD (yellow drive icon) which contains the backup. The drive is labeled Time Machine.

4) On the "Select a Backup" screen, there is a dropdown which says "Restore From". This is greyed out, and the text says "Macintosh HD on iMac". This is odd to me, as it sounds like that is the name of the internal HDD on the iMac, despite me selecting the external drive in step 1? Anyways, all of the backups are displayed below. I select the time of the backup that I want, and I click "Continue".

5) The next screen is "Select a Destination". Here is where I am stuck. The first time I went through this flow, Macintosh HD was available as an option. I clicked it, clicked "Restore" and was immediately shown a generic error I cannot remember the wording of exactly. Something like "The time machine backup failed to restore". I rebooted the computer. Now when I go through steps 1-4 again, when I get to step 5, there is no drives listed on the "Select a Destination" screen. This is pretty terrifying, and I don't know what to do.

How do I restore my full Time Machine backup?

  • Are you still able to boot into the iMac as normal? If only the prefs are missing, you don't need to restore the whole machine. – Tetsujin Oct 6 '17 at 6:30
  • @Tetsujin thank you for the reply. I started getting somewhere. I could not boot it. I ended up going into internet disk utility and clicking "repair" on the Fusion Drive. This completely wiped the 2 TB drive, but it allowed me to start the restore from my Time Machine backup. My only concern is what corrupted my internal HDD to the point that it had to be wiped. That is curious to me. – boltup_im_coding Oct 6 '17 at 6:51

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