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Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

MacFixIt Answers is a weekly feature in which we answer questions e-mailed in by our readers. We welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your own suggestions in the comments.

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer questions e-mailed in by our readers.

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The contact box on MacFixIt is now available for you to use (Mac topics only please).

This week people wrote in with questions on using Disk Utility from a prior version of OS X, whether or not to repair a broken G5 or upgrade, how to recover a missing Downloads folder on the Dock, and the necessity of the Lion recovery partition. We continually answer e-mail questions, and though we present answers here, we welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your suggestions in the comments.

NOTE: The "contact us" box on the MacFixIt page is now available for you to use when e-mailing questions. The box should be available on the MacFixIt front page in addition to every MacFixIt article, but you can also still use the existing methods of contacting us.

Question: Using Disk Utility from a prior version of OS X
MacFixIt reader Wolfgang asks:

Last week, I used disk utility from the Snow Leopard installation disk to repair my Lion because I forgot that Lion actually had its own recovery disk. So far, I haven't encountered any problem but I'm just curious if this is ok, since the version of disk utilities are not the same.

If you only repaired the disk, then you're fine. The HFS+ format used by OS X is the same for all versions of OS X, so you can technically use any version of Disk Utility to check the format and ensure it is properly set up. The repair of permissions is a different issue, since the different versions of OS X will have different files in them, and need special access settings for each file. That being said, if you did run a permissions repair, then just open Disk Utility from within Lion and repair permissions again, which will correct any improper permissions settings by Disk Utility running from a previous version of OS X.

Question: G5 repair or upgrade
MacFixIt reader "TheWeeHedgehog" asks:

I have figured out the problem with my iMac G5 which appears to be a failing logic board. I know that when it goes, it will go fast. My question is this. I can get a replacement from for about $445.00 but have no idea how much it costs to have it installed. Is it worth it for a 2007 computer?

My recommendation here would be to not spend the money on the replacement. At this point you would be getting a used component that might have other unknown problems. Additionally, since Apple no longer supports the PowerPC in software (and barely does in hardware), I would advise to put the money toward a new system. Even the newest Mac Mini systems are on par with the speed of the older PowerMac G5 systems (even faster in some cases), so you could get one of those, or even get a newer iMac for about double the price, and have a system that should run Apple's operating systems for the next few revisions at the very least.

This is also not only a matter of operating system support, but many third-party software vendors no longer support PowerPC with their latest products. This is true even for common products like Web browsers and media players.

Question: Missing Downloads folder on the Dock
MacFixIt reader James asks:

How do I rebuild access to the Downloads folder on the Dock? About 4 months ago, access to [this] folder disappeared. No matter what I do, I am unable to recover it.

Try going to your Home folder in the Finder (this should be the default folder, named the same as your account's "short" username), and then dragging the Downloads folder from there to the Dock (this folder should be next to your regular "Documents," "Movies," "Music," and other default user folders). Do keep in mind that files and folders dragged to the Dock can only be placed on the right-side of the divider (or bottom if you have the Dock on the side of your display), so if you drag it elsewhere you will be prohibited from adding it. If the Downloads folder is not in your home directory, then create a new folder there and call it "Downloads." When you do this the folder's icon should change to have a down arrow in it (the custom icon for the Downloads folder), and then be accessible for you.

Question: The necessity of the Lion recovery partition
MacFixIt reader Henry asks:

If I were to create a backup of my Lion installation, but did not include the Recovery HD volume, would I still be able to restore my system using the backup? What if I cloned the drive, instead of using a Time Machine backup? I thought the Recovery HD was just useful as a replacement for an install disc, and wasn't vital to restoring or backing up a Lion system. Please correct me if I am wrong on this matter.

You would definitely be able to create a working backup without the Recovery HD partition. The partition with the OS on it is all that's needed to run Lion; however, some additional features like disk encryption and Apple's Find My Mac service will not work properly without the Recovery HD partition.

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