Failed Attempt To Upgrade From 10.6.8 To Mountain Lion


1. I have a 2007 MacBook Pro with a failing hard drive that won't verify the volume. I have been nursing it along by starting it up with a Lacie Porsche external USB drive until the new MBPs are released this year.

2. I wanted to unlock my iPhone which requires backing it up, erasing it and restoring.

3. I used iTunes on the Lacie to back up the iPhone to the Lacie drive and erased it. When I went to restore it, iTunes refused to do so because it's too old.

4. To update iTunes I needed to upgrade Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion. I downloaded Mountain Lion and installed it to the Lacie.

5. Everything was going fine until the MacBook Pro restarted. It hung on the start up - saying it was installing (gray screen, little bar with a quarter of the meter bar darked out) and stating another 30 minutes was needed. Two hours later, the bar meter was in the same place and still saying 30 minutes. I shut the MBP down and restarted. An hour later it's still hung in the same spot. Being an idiot, I restarted again.

6. Now the MBP refuses to start from the Lacie, it's own hard drive or the recovery thingy that pops up when I hold the Option key during start up. When I chose the Lacie or recovery thingy, it starts up but then shuts down in 20 seconds.

7. I can't use command R to get to recovery mode because that doesn't work on a 2007 MBP. The internal super drive is dead so I can't start it with the Snow Leopard disc or a third party repair disc. The MBP refuses to recognize the external super drive is hooked up to it.

8. I did once get it to start up with choosing the recovery thing as the start up and got to utility thingy. The Lacie drive is fine. I figured the issue was the MBP was confused and trying to start up with its dying hard drive. I chose start up so I could choose the Lacie and it would finish installing Mountain Lion. Only when I clicked and the box that popped up that should have shown me the start up disks - it was an empty box.

9. The MBP won't start in safe mode.

10. I went to single mode. The fsck commands can't verify the internal hard drive - so it can't repair it long enough to start it up so I can get into the computer, remove Mountain Lion from the Lacie and reinstall Snow Leopard.

11. I know one can transfer files in single mode and I presume a back up from the MBP's hard drive to the Lacie. Can I replace Mountain Lion on the Lacie with the Snow Leopard on the MBP in single mode?

I'm still stuck trying to figure out the Lacie's name that single mode will recognize. I know the MBP is disk0s2.

And getting the correct command that just transfers the stuff on the MBP (Snow Leopard) and not duplicate files is a bit challenging too.

Or could I fix the issue by connecting the Lacie to another Mac and reinstalling Snow Leopard?

Is this possible?

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.8), 2007 Summer Santa Rosa
Unless you can boot the computer from the Snow Leopard DVD your cannot erase the drive nor prepare a hew one. If you have the
Snow Leopard disc, an 8 GB USB flash drive, and access to a computer that can read the DVD, then you can make a bootable flash drive with which to install Snow Leopard. This is done by simply cloning the DVD to the flash drive which is partitioned GUID and formatted Mac OS Extended, Journaled:

Clone using Restore Option of Disk Utility

1. Open Disk Utility in the Utilities folder.
2. Select the destination volume from the left side list.
3. Click on the Restore tab in the DU main window.
4. Select the destination volume from the left side list and drag

it to the Destination entry field.

5. Select the source volume from the left side list and drag it to

the Source entry field.

6. Double-check you got it right, then click on the Restore button.

Destination means the USB flash drive. Source means the Snow Leopard Installer DVD.
skapp beat me to the good tip that I was going to offer, which will give you have a better way to go back to Snow Leopard, if you still want to do that.

How much RAM is installed in your 2007 MBPro? 2GB is minimum for Mountain Lion, and maxing out the RAM (to 6GB) in the 2007 MBPro would be a good idea if you still would want to upgrade to Mountain Lion.
I would also point out that a failing/flaky internal hard drive, even if you are not booted to it, can cause issues such as you are experiencing (really slow copies/installs on the LaCie)
The forced shutdown when you were trying to install Mountain Lion probably dumped you "off the cliff", waiting it out can be hard...

So, moving forward...

I would suggest using a DIFFERENT Mac that you can attach your La Cie, and run a nice hard drive repair utility, such as Disk Warrior, that can have a better chance of getting that drive working again. You will need to purchase DW if you don't have it yet, but a good purchase if you have some files (your iPhone backup, for example) that you might like to get from that hard drive.
DeltaMac, I figured I was going to have to find another Mac to rescue my MBP. To answer your questions, my MacBook Pro is maxed out at 4gb of RAM and I do have Disk Warrior.

I resolved the issue and my MacBook Pro is working again.

1. I found a friend with a Mac who was willing to let me use it.

2. I attached my LaCie Porsche drive to her Mac and used Disk Warrior to repair it - which took 15 minutes. Thirty plus times with Disk Utilty got me nowhere. Once Disk Warrior did its magic, the LaCie was recognized by her Mac and all of my files were on it.

3. I wanted to either download Mountain Lion or install Snow Leopard from my disk onto the LaCie but the friend's Mac had El Capitan so Apple wouldn't let me install anything but El Capitan on the LaCie. I downloaded the El Capitan installer on her Mac, opened it, chose the LaCie drive and installed it. NOTE: I did not have to erase the LaCie because when I formatted it a couple of years ago, I chose GUID Partition Table (GPT) - thank goodness I was thinking that evening.

4. Once El Capitan was installed, I ejected the LaCie and connected it to my Macbook Pro. I held the Option key down during start up until I could choose the LaCie drive for start up. The first time I chose it the MBP shutdown. I tried it again and the MBP decided to start up from the LaCie. All my files are there - nothing was lost.

5. I installed the latest version of iTunes and I'm currently restoring my iPhone.

All is happy in my little Mac world again. My fingers are crossed Apple releases new 15" MacBook Pro's with the Skylark chip in the next few months. It's time to replace my 2007 Santa Rosa.

If anyone else has this issue, here are the instructions for installing an OS to an external drive (NOTE: the OS has to be the same as the Mac's or newer to start it up from an external drive):

My only issue now is in System Preferences - I'm unable to choose the LaCie for the start up disk - both the LaCie and the MBP are greyed out. I presume because the MacBook Pro's OS is still Snow Leopard while the LaCie's is El Capitan. I'll have to use the Option key method every time I start it up. Unless I decide to install El Capitan to the MacBook Pro. Which I can't see spending the time to do if I'm replacing it with a new one in the next few months. However, if anyone as any other ideas - I'd love to hear them.

Thank you Skapp and DeltaMac for your advice. Over thirty years of Mac computers, this is the least brilliant thing I've done to one. :) But they're Macs and they always forgive me.