First of all update to OS X 10.7.3 if you haven't already. It incorporated a fix specifically to address the WiFi problem you are experiencing.
I understand your frustration and you can certainly reformat your HD and start with a clean slate, but that is rather drastic. Perhaps there are some other steps you could try.
Safe Boot is for troubleshooting and not designed for routine use - you cannot just live in it.
Starting the computer in "safe mode": Mac OS X: What is Safe Boot, Safe Mode?
Have a look at these other general purpose knowledgebase articles. Perhaps you could find something useful:
Creating a temporary user to isolate user-specific problems: Isolating an issue by using another user account
Identifying resource hogs and other tips: Using Activity Monitor to read System Memory and determine how much RAM is being used
To identify potential hardware problems: Apple Hardware Test
In the end if you wish to reformat your hard disk and reinstall Lion, you would boot the recovery partition by holding ⌘ R during boot. It sounds like you're familiar with that From there, open Disk Utility, select your disk and erase it. As you know this is drastic and might not fix what's wrong anyway. So exhaust all the other steps above first.
I had upgraded to 10.7.3 and although it cut the time somewhat it did not resolve the issue.
I was no longer able to boot other than in Safe mode, I was just getting the grey screen/Apple logo and no further.
Activity Monitor showed nothing unusual.
Anyway, I have done the wipe and now am waiting while it apparently searches for an Internet connection. It gave me some options to choose from but none of them were my wireless modem. So then it asked if I wanted it to search so I said yes (didn't really have much choice) and for the past 15 minutes or so it has been showing a one-minute countdown clock that gets down to maybe :56 and then resets to 1:00 again -- although the progress bar is slowly filling, so that's something.
Guess I should probably hang it up for the night and get some sleep. It won't be fixed before I have to leave for work in the morning anyway...
Thanks, guys. Beginning to think I should dig out my Snow Leopard disks just in case.
Well, the system seems to be working cleanly, at least -- instantly connects to WiFi, not a spinning beachball in sight.
However, it would seem that I shouldn't have believed all the "your data lives in the sky" talk. When I check my Purchased music from iTunes, it shows me two albums and a couple of singles, when there should be dozens of both. My iPhone has more of my music than I find when I sign into iTunes. So clearly I should have saved the iTunes library from my computer!
I hate to even think about my photos...
Thanks for the update, if anything was sure to fix your MBP that would be it.
However, it would seem that I shouldn't have believed all the "your data lives in the sky" talk.
Exactly why I said
As you know this is drastic and might not fix what's wrong anyway. So exhaust all the other steps above first.
Once you reformat your HD, everything on it is gone.
Before you give up have a look at the iTunes Store menu and select "Check for available downloads...". If you purchased music on your phone some or all of it may appear there.
I am far from a "cloud" advocate. Ask anyone who signed up for a "lifetime" MobileMe account. No one will ever care about your data as much as you do.
I just don't understand why, when I log in to my iTunes account, it doesn't show everything I bought -- even an album I bought earlier this month is missing. It says my computer is the only device authorized, why isn't my iPhone showing? Was my iTunes account also living on my computer? Doesn't the store have its own records of our purchases?
iPhoto won't open at all, even though I downloaded the latest version from Apple.com.
I can live with losing a lot of this stuff -- I still have the photos on my phone and on my camera cards, I can buy the music again... but here is what I don't understand, and it's a pretty basic issue: something was messing up my computer, and whether it was a software problem or had it been a virus of some kind, wouldn't backing up the system to my external drive and then replacing the computer's data with a backup copy have just have copied the problem as well? I had fixed permissions and done one-by-one elimination tests for the past two months and nothing worked. This was drastic but it worked, at least... I can use my computer again.
OMG... apparently I have two Apple IDs, which is news to me. One is just my name, the other is my full email address. So when I sign in using the email address, there are all my missing music purchases. Only now, it says that since this computer is already attached to an Apple ID (which I must have set up at some point because a couple of my music purchases are attached to it) I can't authorize it to the correct one for 90 days!
Yeah, I know... boneheaded move. Because it's a laptop I just never do full backups to my external drive because I don't ever leave it hooked up. I copy the data files I have to have but not the system as a whole.
Definitely need to invest in something I can connect via my wireless network and get Time Machine going. I could have saved myself two months of trying to figure out what went wrong.