I would hope you know how to clone your system and keep working system backups.
You never want to go back prior to say your 10.6.3 DVD.
Senseless to go back 6 yrs old OS in time and THEN update? what mallarky that is.
So whatever you have with 10.6.x
And with CCC and cloning you would never have to reinstall or have trouble with all your 3rd party apps and licensing.
How to clone your system:
CCC has been around since 10.2.2 - started as some terminal commands I think - good ole "ditto" is very powerful and safe.
TechTool Pro? Disk Warrior from Alsoft?
You should never - done right - need to install your OS (same version t hat is).
Moving from SL to Lion or above though best strategy and safe with good results is leave SL as is, backup and bootable, install the new OS on a new drive, then use Setup Assistant (gotten smarter and better).
And isolate t he system and apps from data. A smaller fast boot drive(s)
You can even backup your system to a Disk Utility sparse disk image if you need to or want for storage and safe keeping. Likely and should be 40-80GB for most users. A few have t ons of apps. Or X-Plane which can be in excess of 60GB itself.
Disk Utility can "clone" the system drive but unlike CCC it does not do "smart" smaller update changes or allow for archiving changes, or to exclude folders (like in /Users/account/ )
Maybe you have just been lucky and never had to go to school for disaster recovery - prevention is easier than cure after the world collapses and hits the fans and faced with a dead drive and lost files and not enough backups.
Yes. Just pop in a new drive.
Back-In-Time 2: Unleash the power of Time Machine
Restore Time Machine data: Time Machine is a great basic backup tool. But the options for locating and restoring data are quite limited. Back-In-Time gives you total flexibility in discovering and recovering your data to any location on your Mac. See more...
A File History backup archive whether TimeMachine which is fine I agree to use CCC as primary but I also like something else or combination, one for system, one for data. And multiple sets. And even then I have needed to go and find a file version or something and glad I had online backup of something besides a once a week clone, which would not have helped me.TimeMachine 101
"Optional" advanced for separating system and user accounts media files:
How to relocate system and user data to another drive:
From what I've read on one of your links, looks like I can reboot from the OS install disk and use Time Machine to reinstall everything. My one concern is if from there I can chose from which date. I obviously don't want to restore from yesterday whith an old OS. I want to go back 2 days.
It also looks like there are 2 ways to restore from Time Machine. 1 by the way I said above, and the other from within Time Machine. Is one way safer or better than the other? I don't think I'm worried about losing anything. I can do a separate back up of customer files using Silver Keeper to be sure that is current to today, then just replace that entire folder on my HD once restore is finished.
I do not have another empty HD. Just my main one and then 1 external which I use for backups.
Build a nice new safe and reliable foundation.
You should have all drive bays in use, internal backup is convenient but external can be off line and safe.
And a backup UPS just in case for protection and safe shutdown if you can't ride it out.
system / data / backup / scratch
you can always slice out a small 100GB partition for a system image somewhere, even on your large 2-4TB TimeMachine drive just for an emergency system for repairs and backup.
http://www.amazon.com/Western-Digital-Caviar-Internal-Desktop/dp/B0036Q7MV0/ $92 for a nice WD Black 1TB, or there is the 250GB 10K VR now also that is a quick 180MB/sec system drive. Some think they prefer 128GB SSD which are also in the $100 range also. And 2TB and above for media.
I would go shopping if I worked for myself. HDs are so inexpensive now. I was happy just to get the second HD for backups. Once I fix this problem, I can partition my second HD. Although that requires errasing it.
Right now I'm mainly concerned with restoring my system and how to go back 2 days in the Time Machine. Once I do this, I can figure out how to prevent this. Although I might have prevented it to begin with if I remembered Time Machine, or if the Apple tech had some knowledge and thought to ask if I had time machine or actually better than that, heard what I had done to start this whole thing which had to do with a font issue and didn't tell me to reinstall, but told me how to fix.
Go into Disk Utility, click on the raw drive name like WDxxxxx and then you can.
TimeMachine may need as much free space as a backup set can take for writing temp files and making changes.
The abilityy to resize and add partitions has been there probably 10.6.x
As I have been saying best to have another drive.
For a small emergency boot - a 30GB partition, and just a minimal Apple OS w/o anything else but the essential drivers and utilities. Might want to get out DVD and do an install rather than clone to it.