You don't lose your Lion purchase by erasing the drive and reinstalling.
Install or Reinstall Lion from Scratch
If possible backup your files to an external drive or second internal drive.
Boot to the Recovery HD:
Restart the computer and after the chime press and hold down the COMMAND and R keys until the menu screen appears. Alternatively, restart the computer and after the chime press and hold down the OPTION key until the boot manager screen appears. Select the Recovery HD and click on the downward pointing arrow button.
Erase the hard drive:
- Select Disk Utility from the main menu and click on the Continue button.
- After DU loads select your hard drive (this is the entry with the mfgr.'s ID and size) from the left side list. Note the SMART status of the drive in DU's status area. If it does not say "Verified" then the drive is failing or has failed and will need replacing. SMART info will not be reported on external drives. Otherwise, click on the Erase tab in the DU main window.
- Set the format type to Mac OS Extended (Journaled.) Click on the Erase button and wait until the process has completed.
- Quit DU and return to the main menu.
You may want to repartition the drive as well to allow a large enough system volume. Be sure you have your files backed up from the other partitions as repartitioning is a destructive process.
Reinstall Lion: Select Reinstall Lion and click on the Install button.
Note: You can also re-download the Lion installer by opening the App Store application. Hold down the OPTION key and click on the Purchases icon in the toolbar. You should now see an active Install button to the right of your Lion purchase entry. There are situations in which this will not work. For example, if you are already booted into the Lion you originally purchased with your Apple ID or if an instance of the Lion installer is located anywhere on your computer.
Kappy's paste isn't going to work quite right in your case I believe because in order to change the four partitions you got to erase the whole drive, which you can't do while booted from the Lion Recovery Partition.
Only by booted from a outside media can you change that many partitions and set them up again.
I learned this while setting up 7 partitions on my spare MacBook Pro.
So this is what I would do in your case:
Have all your data completely off the machine right, nothing in any partition?
Don't use TimeMachine, it's unreliable, save your personal data on a storage drive(s) (check out my link)
Disconnect all other drives and media, we don't want a accident.
When you get that done your going to be holding c and booting off the 10.6 Snow Leopard disk.
Use Disk Utility to Erase and format the entire computers drive (select the far left "media") via the Partition tab.
You need to erase the whole mess, set 1 partition, GUID and OS X Extended and click Apply, I'm sure you know that.
Next your going to need to install Snow Leopard and update to 10.6.8 and walla, install Lion.
This time you hold down the Option Key and click on Purchases in AppStore, which you can download the Lion installer again.
But before you install it, save the dmg and make a bootable disk of Lion
Install in this order for best performance
- OS X fully updated and upgraded
- All programs you use from fresh sources as much as possible
- Last, files from backup (as they rob a computer of performance and best at the end)
You can learn a lot here, you should be making a Lion USB Recovery USB as well
And another thing, for performance all you have to do is learn how to clone your OS X Lion Partition to a external drive, it's hold the option key bootable which then you can reverse clone back onto the Lion OS X Partition (not the whole drive now, so be careful) which will optimize and defrag it, while maintaing a copy safe on the external drive.
Remember Lion makes another invisible partition when it installs, the Lion Recovery Partition , which you hold command r keys to boot from it.
But because you had a quad partition setup, you need to erase the whole mess, set up your partitions again and reinstall Snow Leopard from the disk, then upgrade to Lion to fix it. Because your Lion Recovery Partition has to be deleted to reformat the partitions and that's the only way to download Lion.
So when you reinstall Lion on top of Snow, your Lion Recovery Partition gets re-established and then you can boot from it later on.
Read my post here, lots of into!
Another tip you might not know about.
Is Disk Utility in Lion/Snow will allow you to create one more partition from the free space at the end of the drive.
So you can install what you want there, and later you can delete it again and reclaim the space for the upper partition.
I tried creating more than one partition, but it doesn't allow it. Perhap I did something wrong, but if I booted off a external drive or Snow Leopard disk, I could make as many as 16 partitions if I wished.
So I think there is a limit with only one partition while booted from the same drive.
That's why I think you need to go the Snow Leopard > Lion upgrade route via the 10.6 disk
Good Luck and hope this helps
It seems I have another problem. I cannot find my copy of Snow Leopard DVD. No idea where could it be. Any chance to reinstall without having that disc?
No, it's the only fresh source of Snow Leopard you have (got a clone around?)
Call Apple with your serail number or model, info and they can send a new gray disk(s)
Now if your machine came with 10.6.3 or earlier you can order the 10.6 retail white disks, but you don't get the free iLife.
More than fifteen might cause an issue when the full installer for the OS attempts to add a slice for Recovery OS.
In Ask Different, with an answer: Why should I observe a limit of sixteen partitions per disk with OS X?