The Reason Why The World Isn’t Ready For Lion Internet Recoveries [Opinion]



Apple is pushing out more updates to computers released in 2011 to enable Lion Internet recovery. Initially this recovery feature was only available on the MacBook Air and Mac Mini when they made their debut in July.  Recently, however, Apple made it available on certain model MacBook notebooks and this week it was released for early 2011 iMacs like the one I purchased in June.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m surprised that Apple enabled Lion Internet Recovery on my iMac. I thought they’d hold out and only offer it on a refreshed model as an incentive to upgrade.

Unfortunately, I’m also a bit dismayed. I have not had the best experiences when experimenting with Lion Internet Recovery. One attempt to use it on my MacBook Air during the week when iOS 5, iCloud and the iPhone 4S launched resulted in a recovery, just for Mac OS X Lion, that was going to take well over nine hours to complete! Ouch.

Over nine hours is a lot of time needed to recover any computer, let alone a computer that doesn’t ship with installation media for Mac OS X Lion. Talk about a time waster which can have a significant impact on you if you are someone who builds, configures or recovers computers for a living. What about a scenario where I had to go on a trip?

The lengthy time frame might mean that recovering and restoring a computer to full working order could take up to two days in this scenario. I’d waste a lot of valuable time in one case and in another I might have to leave on a trip without my computer. I’m sure that this isn’t the worst case.

However, how much worse can it get? A lot, actually, because you never know how your internet connection is going to act or how Apple’s servers will respond.

Using traditional tools, like the installation media that ships with most Macs these days, I’d usually have a Mac up and running in a half day, but definitely less than a day. In a pinch most Macs can be set up with a refreshed copy of Mac OS X in less than three hours. However, I don’t think that will ever be the case with Lion Internet Recovery. That is, unless you a have significant broadband connection, and who has that? Or can sustain that if they do?

I was so infuriated about the time it took to recover the MacBook Air that I wrote an email to Apple CEO Tim Cook. He responded through his Executive Relations team. I hope he listened to my feedback and that we see alternatives to the potentially glacially slow Lion Internet Recovery.

Although I generally like it when Apple pushes us towards something new even when we are kicking and screaming. I honestly think that this time Apple has really screwed up by making Lion Internet Recovery the only way to recover a MacBook Air or Mac Mini in certain circumstances (i.e. like replacing the existing drive with a completely new one, when you need to  a complete system refresh, etc.).

Personally I’m completely against Lion Internet Recovery until Apple can guarantee that restoring or installing Mac OS X Lion will take as much or less time as using traditional recovery media (i.e. USB thumb drive or DVD).  I don’t think they can make that guarantee and thus the world and I aren’t ready for this yet.

If you have problems or concerns about Lion Internet Recovery write Mr. Cook yourself or leave Apple some feedback.