Ok let me try and sketch the situation;

Hardware MacBook Pro 17 inch (Early 2011), 1x 750 GB HDD + 1x 140 GB SSD

OS Lion

Just after I purchased my MacBook Pro I swapped the 750 GB drive for the 140 GB SSD and that worked well for a while. Obviously this setup was a bit limited in terms of drive space especially since I started using the machine privately and for work through the use of Parallels virtual machines. I removed the optical drive and installed the old 750 GB drive to provide the additional space.

Now here is where it gets a bit messy. Because I wanted to use this machine for work, I decided it would be a good idea to turn on drive encryption (for the 750 GB HDD but not the SSD) using Lion which was easy. But then, a while later and in my infinite wisdom, I moved the /Users directory from the SSD to the HD and that's where the trouble began.

Now I want to make a clean start and copy all data to my 1TB USB 2.0 and then rebuild the entire machine using the Lion recovery flash drive which I already have.

My plan was as follows:

  1. Boot OS X into Recovery Mode
  2. Log in as test user (that I won't need after cleanup)
  3. Open Terminal
  4. su to root
  5. rsync -avz /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD /Volumes/1TBHD/Backup_MacHD
  6. rsync -avz /Volumes/Data /Volumes/1TBHD/Backup_DATA
  7. Disk Utility --> Format HDD --> Format SSD
  8. Reinstall OS
  9. Reboot to newly installed OS
  10. Try and piece it back together using data from /Volumes/1TBHD

I got as far as 6 but when I checked user and group ownership I already noticed some discrepancies... not a great start as I had thought that rsync -avz as root would certainly preserve that sort of stuff.

What I am looking for is confirmation that the above is workable or even better, a more straight forward and success assured approach.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and give me your thoughts and suggestions!

2 Answers 2


If the Users directory on the SSD is the same, ie., you haven't changed files, etc., then it is still the Users directory that the OS is using. However, if you did some terminal magic to make this transition I could see where things would get a bit hairy.

I'm not as familiar with the terminal, but I can tell you what I would do in this situation. I'd clone disk images of each drive to the TB using Carbon Copy Cloner or some similar piece of software. At least as a disk image you'll maintain the integrity of the files - I'm not sure how this is effected via encryption though. It may not even work.

Ideally, you'd reinstall OS X on the SSD and then use your Terminal magic to move the Users directory to the HD - if that is still your plan - mount the disk image files and move files accordingly, this should help with permissions. Again, I'm not sure how the encryption works into this either. And I've not seen many instances where moving the Users directory didn't result in some kind of mess. If you can keep it on the drive with the system, I think that would be best.

BTW - Lion should've installed it's recovery partition locally when you did the original install.

Perhaps not much help - but some things to think about.


There is a quick and dirty way of doing thing and oddly enough it will be the cleanest.

I recommend cp'ing everything onto your external volume. Just get everything over there and make sure the sizes of the folders match.

I also recommend then to chmod -R 7777 on that volume so that you can carry, copy, and do whatever you need to when the time comes later.

Once your file are transferred and chmod'd, erase the drive you want to be used for the OS and install a fresh OS. Set up the new user account and drag over the items you need where you need them.

Once all that is said and down, reboot to the installer and reset permissions and ACLs for the main drive and that would reset things back to 700 for the ~ folder and fix any lingering things.

This is coming from YEARS of fixing this kind of a mess for people (strangers, friends, and family). You can take what you want but it is better to reduce the steps and keep things simple. Starting fresh will prevent issues down the line. Trust me!

All the best!

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