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Apple may offer free USB recovery drives to select Lion users

Apple will be offering $69 USB installation and recovery drives for Lion users, but some Lion users may be able to get one for free.

Apple's OS X 10.7 Lion operating system by default reconfigures your main boot drive to contain a small 650MB recovery partition that, like the original OS X installation DVDs, contains options to fix problems with your OS installation or reinstall the OS if necessary. While the OS will set up this partition on most systems, the installer may not be able to configure the drive with the recovery partition for some setups (especially those running RAID or custom partitioned drives). People with these setups have been concerned about the lack of an official recovery drive option for their systems, but it appears Apple may have a solution.

The tech blog MakeUseOf has revealed a leaked Apple internal document that covers Apple's policies around the soon-to-be-released USB recovery media for OS X Lion. Some have speculated that this drive is the rumored $69 USB flash drive that will contain a full installation of Lion, but Engadget is suggesting that these are different drives than the retail ones. Nevertheless, if you have already installed Lion on a system and cannot use the built-in recovery tools, then this document suggests you may be eligible to receive some sort of recovery option from Apple.

Apple's policy suggests Lion users who cannot use the built-in recovery partition may be able to get the USB drive for free. MakeUseOf

It is very likely that in order to get this drive you will need to take your system into the Apple store and show a representative why Lion's recovery partition will not work, and if it is obvious the recovery partition cannot be made to work on your computer then you can get the USB recovery drives. The specifics of the requirements are not available, but as MakeUseOf recommends, your best bet is to be as nice as possible.

While having an official Apple recovery drive may be enticing, do keep in mind that you can create one yourself either from an existing Recovery HD partition, or if you do not have one then create it from the OS X 10.7 Lion installer. The Lion installer should be available for you to redownload from the Mac App Store by holding the Option key when clicking the "Purchases" section.

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