When Apple released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion last month, the company did a very unusual thing: It made it an online-only download. That freaked out a lot of people who were afraid if something went wrong, they'd be stuck with a dead Mac they could not resuscitate. Sure, Lion installs a hidden recovery partition you can access if your startup partition is damaged (press Command+Shift+R while booting to launch it), but if the disk is damaged, so too may be the recovery partition.
Additionally, Apple deletes the Lion installer automatically once the installation is done, so it's not easy to create your own backup copy in case of major hardware failure. There are ways to retrieve the Lion installer so that you can copy the installer image, but they border on hacks that regular users won't know how to do.
Although few users have complained about issues with the download-only availability of Lion once the update went live, last week Apple began selling USB keys with the Lion installer, and its support staff gave it free to some users who had trouble with the online-only methods. Lion has several other methods to install Lion from the Web (assuming you can get enough of the recovery partition going to open Safari and then access the Mac App Store) and from other Macs (over a network or Target Disk Mode connection).
But Apple has now provided an easier solution that both individual users and IT support will like: a free utility available at Apple's support website that lets you create your own recovery partition on a USB key or external disk. It's a simple, obvious fix to the fear that Apple's new Mac App Store distribution strategy created. When Dell and others began removing Windows recovery discs a few years back, they included a utility to create your own. Apple should have done the same in Lion proper from the get-go, but better late than never.
Chances are you won't need to use it, but why not make your own Lion recovery key or disk just in case?
This story, "Don't trust the hidden Lion recovery partition? You no longer have to," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.