Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Snow Leopard installation pitfall

My copy of Snow Leopard arrived this morning, but as yet I haven’t been able to install it, as it’s failing at the first hurdle.
The problem is the partition table used on my hard disk (which isn’t the original disk that came with my Mac – I upgraded last year), which is of the MBR (Master Boot Record) variety. This is great for compatibility but Snow Leopard doesn’t like it, and insists that I only use the GUID partition table. And changing the table requires reformatting the hard disk.
While I do have Time Machine backing up my personal data and the core operating system, I don’t have enough space on the backup drive to fit everything on it – it doesn’t take a genius to work out that 140 GB of data won’t fit on a 60 GB hard drive. And while most things of sentimental value, like my photos and music, are safely backed up, things like World of Warcraft which is a 16 GB behemoth are not – and I don’t fancy spending a whole day re-installing it from 10 discs and then downloading a further gigabyte of content patches.
Thankfully I live with someone who works at an electronics store and so a 250 GB external drive will hopefully be here later tonight. This means I’ll be able to do a full backup and then do a fresh install of Snow Leopard, rather than an upgrade – in the 3 years I have had this machine I’ve never done a full re-install, even when upgrading from Tiger to Leopard 2 years ago. And then I can restore my applications and data from the Time Machine backup.
It’s a faff, and one that’s cost me – while large hard drives are cheap these days it’s an expense that I didn’t expect.


  1. A full reinstall is really the way to go. If I remember right, you have one of the first generation Intel Mac’s right that is just a Core Duo? Then yeah, it is probably due for a reinstall. Really gave my Macbook Core Duo a speed boost.

  2. Yeah, first generation Intel MacBook. I’m 1 hour into a full backup with about 33% done.