I use Apple products. In fact, I use a lot of Apple products and some of my less generous colleagues might even label me a “fanboy”. I’d call that unfair because I’m not blind to their faults and I know that, like all technology, it will fail at some point.
I have tried my best to develop ways of avoiding failures, making sure that they cause as little damage or disruption as possible and generally covering my back wherever and whenever possible. The other day, whilst doing routine updates to one of the Macs in my office, I experienced something that would probably have completely freaked most computer users out and necessitated a lot of aggravation or even a visit to a service centre or Genius Bar.
Simply put, all of the applications went AWOL. The dock, of which you can see a screenshot above just showed a whole row of question marks indicating that the applications were missing and a quick visit to the applications folder showed that the Mac clearly thought so too. The error message said that I didn’t have permissions to use the folder which made me believe and/or hope that nothing was actually missing. The “missing” applications included Time Machine and all of the repair and diagnostic tools that I would normally go straight to. I looked in the bin and I tried to search for items that I know should have in my applications folder but found nothing.
This has never happened to me before and I have never heard it described so I tried solution number one – to use a different device, get onto the internet and search the collected knowledge of the world’s computer users. The general consensus appeared to be that I had a major issue and that I needed to reinstall the Mac operating system. Easier said than done given that, despite trying every kind of reboot and diagnostic test I could, the App Store, all web browsers and Time Machine were amongst the locked/blocked/missing applications.
I could have done it all from one of the other Macs but I have, for many years, had a back-up drive from which I can boot my computers. These days it is a USB3 SSD drive with OSX Yosemite loaded on it and I used that to reboot my computer and install a fresh copy of OSX. Twenty-five minutes later with a mildly raised heart rate and some cramp in my fingers from keeping them crossed my computer was back as if nothing had happened. No screwdrivers were involved and nobody had to drive anywhere. No data was lost and I could get on with work.
Just in case you are wondering, panicking wasn’t even in the top ten ways to sort this out – about five places below a stiff drink or three!
A case that proves the old military phrase that I was taught at school in the 1970s and 1980s – “precise and proper planning prevents poor performance”.