I've been over many faq's and troubelshooting but can't seem to find an answer to this.

I'm currently running my mac from an external HD. My internal got corrupted, I can't repair it with disc utility. So I booted from an older time machine backup, on an external HD which now is my main HD and what I'm running from.

Anyway I want to put everything back the way it was. Meaning erasing my internal and let time machine put back a back up of my current workspace. But when I let it run he backs up the corrupted internal one. It even makes for a total of 500G, and my original HD is only 320.. so I'm making a backup to big to be used to restore later.

How can I change that he backups only the external information? Or maybe I'm wrong and he needs to back up the internal to for things to work since I still use it as my computer (but not my HD). I don't need the content of the original HD to be backed up along with my external one. I just want the workspace I created with a back up on my external to be put back on my erased, internal one..

I'm also worried if I erase my internal HD the booting help progam (C or R) will be gone to.. will it?


To exclude your internal drive from backup, do the following. Go to System Preferences > Time Machine. Click Options... Under the section titled "Exclude these items from backups", click the + button. Select your internal hard drive. This will prevent Time Machine from backing up your internal hard drive.

If your external hard drive is working just like you'd like your internal hard drive to work after you finish fixing it, you can also restore your external volume onto your internal volume. To do this, boot into Recovery Mode (holding R upon boot). Once booted into Recovery Mode, follow the steps in this Apple Support article, under the section Restoring the backup disk image's contents to your internal Mac OS X disk. You can begin with Step 4, as you have a newer operating system than the article was written for.

  • I was aware of the exclude list but didn't know you could assign it to a whole drive, let alone the internal one. I figured I couldn't do this because recovery mode would be "erased" to.. I will try it out, thanks a lot for your help. Mar 8 '13 at 23:28
  • I just discovered that I can't exclude my internal HD. I can access it on the desktop, but it's grayed out if I try to exclude it in the time machine options menu. I can't continue without erasing the internal FIRST. Which is kinda ok caus I made backups of the important stuff, I just want to make really sure I don't need any files from the old one to access recovery mode. Thanks in advance. Mar 10 '13 at 5:24

I'm confused, if the data on your internal drive is corrupted you wouldn't want to use that as a source of backup.

If you are running Mountain Lion or Lion there is / or should be a recovery partition on the hard drive (even the time machine version for cmd-r).

However, using disk utility in the external drive, I would first reformat the internal drive (which still should show up) using one of the security options (overwrite with 1 pass 0 write or DOE 3 pass). This will keep any rogue (malware or damaging data) from creeping back into the new install. If the internal drive can't be reformatted you may have a hardware issue that needs to be resolved before attempting to restore.

Assuming the drive is formatted...

You can restore from Time Machine. (but if you somehow acquired malware you will be being it back as well) or you can install OSX again and migrate the programs and data (only after ensuring all of the most recent security patches are applied)

If you install Mountain Lion you will just download it from the external drive you have been working on and when it is complete and stars it will ask where you want to install and the internal drive will show. Hope that helps.

  • Thanks for your answer "user".. it explained some stuff I was still confused about. I will try all of this next week as I am afraid of the consequences and I need my stuff this weekend. I'll update this thread when I know more! Thanks again. Mar 9 '13 at 20:59

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