Apple shipping USB OS X Lion Recovery Drives

11 August, 2011 - Paul Dixon
Apple USB Stick

Apple have started shipping free USB recovery drives to eligible users unable to restore OS X Lion on their Macs. The thumb drives, which are believed to be 1GB in size, contain the same Lion Recovery utility that Apple made available to download earlier in the week. Contrary to other reports, the drives are not full OS X Lion installers.

So what’s the point of these drives if they don’t contain a full OS X Lion install? Unless you own one of the latest Mac Minis or MacBook Airs, prior to the release of the downloadable Lion Recovery Assistant earlier in the week, there was no official way of restoring OS X Lion on your Mac if its hard drive failed. These drives allow Lion to be restored online from Apple’s servers.

Last week we reported on a leaked AppleCare document, which we then believed referred to USB OS X Lion install drives – it now seems that the document relates to these Recovery Drives:

“Customers who are unable to use Lion’s built-in recovery tools may be eligible to receive the USB drive at no cost, as determined by tier 2.”

What remains unclear, is how long Apple will continue to offer the drives now that they have released the downloadable Lion Recovery assistant – which allows you to make your own version.

Meanwhile, if you’re holding out for an official USB OS X Lion install drive, you shouldn’t have much longer to wait – on the day Lion was released, Apple announced they would be available to buy for $69 from Apple Stores this month.

Thanks to Glenn Kunzler from MacTrast for providing information about the recovery drives.

About the author

Paul Dixon is the owner of Macsessed. He lives in Lancashire in the UK where he works as a web designer. You can find him on and Twitter.