Mac OS X Lion: Install Failed – Disk is Damaged

If you get this message, then your hard drive needs to be repaired. This can be difficult to solve because data may not be backed up and disk utility may not be able to repair your drive. Furthermore, our recovery options are now limited since we can’t buy Install DVD’s anymore. To make matters even worse, the installer creates a perceived loop that will not allow canceling installation or access to disk utility, terminal, or other options.

Here are the steps I followed to solve this issue:

  1. Try installing Lion and get ‘Install Failed – Disk is Damaged’ error
  2. Reboot computer and try installing again – same error (continued reboots do not allow access to install options, disk utility, or terminal; only reboot option)
  3. Reset PRAM to get out of infinite loop (rebooting, attempting to install, failing, …)
    • Turn off computer
    • Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command (⌘), Option, P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously in step 4.
    • Turn on the computer.
    • Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys before the gray screen appears.
    • Hold the keys down until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for the second time.
    • Release the keys.
    • Now computer should boot normally into the installer
    • For more information, see Apple Support Article About NVRAM and PRAM
  4. I downloaded an installer image from the internet to perform my install. I then used disk utility to copy the files to a flash drive. To boot from this drive, I held option as my computer started and selected this drive. If you don’t have a bootable flash drive, then boot from any installer DVD that you do have.
  5. Go to the Utilities menu and select ‘Disk Utility’
  6. Try to repair the disk here. It may not work. If it doesn’t, then close Disk Utility and open Terminal
  7. When terminal opens, type fsck_hfs -rf /dev/disk0s2 and press return
  8. This may take up to 10-15 minutes, but it should repair your drive. When it is complete, restart your computer and try the installation again. These steps worked for me on a MacBook Air Original. NOTE: your drive may not be disk0s2, so if it is not, then try to lookup the actual drive path in Disk Utility or search on Google.

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