Mac OS X Leopard: A cautionary tale

I write this post not from my silvery MacBook Pro but from the G4 iMac in my office. Why? The tale begins over two weeks ago with the preorder of Mac OS X Leopard. I put my preorder in the day it was available and waited eagerly for it to arrive. Last Friday it was waiting on my doorstep when I got home. I took it inside and peeled it out of the shipping box and pulled it out of its shrink wrap. I opened up my laptop which was sleeping in its travel case and popped in the Leopard DVD. Restarted as requested and started the update. I then went to get my daughter from daycare. When I got back the screen said “Update failed”. “What,” I said. I restarted and ran Disk Utility to see “Invalid node structure” appear as the program tried to verify the disk. Panic set in. The machine would not boot. It was not visible to other computers in target disk mode, and I did not own Disk Warrior. I called Applecare after I determined I could navigate the drive in Single User mode, but they had no ideas on how to possibly repair the boot table or partition information. So the machine went to the Apple store where they determined that the hard drive needs to be replaced. This would all be mildly irrtating except I forgot to do the one thing I have always done in the past: backup the User directories on the machine. So now I am hoping the Apple service guys can pull data off onto an external drive I left with them. I’m not hopeful and I may lose a years worth of e-mail and documents (I was planning on using the drive with Time Machine for backups). So take my plight as a warning and backup before updating. It will make the process much less stressful.