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System Restore on Mac Computer

How do I do a System Restore on Mac?Celeste Stewart

Microsoft introduced a cool new feature known as System Restore when it launched the Windows XP operating system. This feature allows Windows users to roll back their system to previously set "restore point." For example, if you were to create a restore point today and then have major problems with your computer a week from now, you could perform a System Restore and roll back the computer to today's settings. It's like time travel in a geeky sort of way. What's neat about System Restore is that it doesn't affect your data - just your system files.

System Restore for Mac

But alas, you have a Mac so the Windows tool doesn't apply to your situation. Some would argue that since the Macintosh operating systems are much more stable than Windows, a system restore-type utility is not necessary. However, computer errors and file corruption happen, even on Macs.

Time Machine

Apple introduced the Time Machine utility with OS X Leopard. This utility is more like a full backup utility than the System Restore utility. If you have OS X Leopard or above, check to see if you have a backup from before your current problems began. More information about Time Machine is available on the Apple Web site.

Disk Utility

The Mac OS X (OS X 10.4 and above) Disk Utility is one option available to Mac users, but it requires that you create backup images of your disk and store them on an external drive. It is not automatic, nor is it as easy to use as System Restore. The Disk Utility can verify and repair disks, so it's worth trying. For example, if your Mac has file system errors such as after power surge or unexpected shutdown, it's smart to run the Disk Utility. You'll need your original installation CD or DVD. Boot up from the disk and choose the Disk Utility. Click the First Aid tab, choose the volume that you wish to repair, and then click Repair.

Mac Safe Boot

Mac Safe Boot, which is similar to Windows Safe Mode, is available for the Mac OS X 10.2 and above operating systems. When you start your Mac in Safe Boot, it will automatically check and repair the disk. Reboot your Mac while holding the Shift key to enter Safe Mode.


Mac's FSCK utility is used when Safe Mode or the Disk Utility either do not work or are unavailable. This is a command line utility that requires using either the Terminal Application or Single User Mode. Once at the command line prompt type in:

/sbin/fsck -fy

From there, the process will go through a series of five phases and will then give you one of two messages: the volume appears to be OK or the file system was modified.

If the file system was modified, you should continue running the FSCK command several times until you receive the "the volume appears to be OK" message. Once the volume is okay, reboot.

Mac Cloning Software

Another option is to invest in Mac cloning software. Many programs are available that will clone your drive and allow you to easily restore it should something go wrong. Two popular programs to consider are Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper.

While the Mac doesn't have the same System Restore utility that Windows offers, options are available. If all else fails, backing up your data and then restoring the Mac operating system from CD is a final resort.

Related Articles:

Windows System Restore  

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4 Responses to “System Restore on Mac Computer”

  1. 001   Charles Luke

    i-mac has started hestitating when opening programs right
    away like it did before.

  2. 002   Celeste Stewart

    Hello, here's some information that should help:
    Thank you! The Filetonic Team. Follow us on:

  3. 003   Kayla

    My mac is not letting me open any programs and it has a question mark over everyone when scrolling through them. I have no idea what to do I have never owned/operated a mac book before...can someone PLZ help me!

  4. 004   Celeste Stewart

    Hello, here's some information that should help:
    Thank you! The Filetonic Team. Follow us on:

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