Are Apple and others misleading users about the use of bootable USB or SSD Mac OS installers with M1 Macs and Monterey?

Everything you write is correct, but it seems to be putting a scarier-than-necessary spin on it.

Yes, if the internal SSD completely fails, then you’re going to need Apple to repair it, and if the SSD’s “ISC” APFS container gets corrupted, you’re going to need another Mac with Configurator to recover.

But these problems are extremely rare. Just as rare as an iPhone getting so trashed that you can’t recover without DFU mode. It occasionally happens, but most people will never need to go there.

If you need to “wipe” an Apple Silicon Mac, you need to only delete the APFS container containing macOS (and its various related volumes). There is no need to delete the other two containers (ISC and 1TR), and if you jumped through the hoops necessary to do so, you would end up creating failures requiring a DFU-based recovery.

As long as you haven’t trashed your ISC and 1TR containers, you can boot an external installer, just like on Intel Macs. And when the installer runs, it will create the macOS container that will hold the OS’s various volumes.


The other new related feature is the ability to restore the Mac to factory conditions by “Erase all content and settings” feature, which does exactly that leaving a pristine SSV.
I see many people who want to do a “clean install” believing they have to erase the SSV in DU, which is no longer relevant, and more liable to lead to problems.

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thank you for your interesting post

what is the rationale ?

When I migrated from T2 → M1 Monterey, I had all kinds of problems like constant rebooting, crashes, etc
After days of troubleshooting, I pinpointed the issue as being app related, namely
1- karabiner elements
2- deepl the translation software
As soon as I deleted those apps, everything has been running smoothly. Similar problems are widely reported with those apps.
Anyone without some understanding of Macs would have brought the M1 to the service center for being defective.
As true internal SSD failures become rare, app related pseudo internal SSD failures may become more common, leading the way for better diagnostic apps to detect boot and kernel panic issues

I would ask the very same question. An educated guess would be the lack of firmware and the effort to rebuild legacy features that should no longer be necessary. Booting from external media can be a security risk. Since the T2 Security Chip on Intel starting around 2018 the ability to external boot was restricted by default and you had to enable the ability in Recovery mode.

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It’s not needed.

Internet Recovery is used to boot a Mac into Recovery mode when there is no local Recovery volume to boot from.

An Apple Silicon Mac should always have at least one Recovery volume. There should be one for each installed macOS, plus the “1TR” (One True Recovery) volume.

If all of them get trashed (which would be pretty hard to do by accident), then you would use Configurator to put it back.

Once booted into Recovery mode, if you use it to (re-)install macOS, it will download the installer from Apple’s server, just like on the Intel Macs (whether that recovery boot is Internet- or or not).

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it’s clear now thank you

Even before Apple Silicon Apple was pushing folks away from bootable cloning. Bombich dealt with this and kept his product useful. SuperDuper seems to be in denial. If you want to meet some irritated folks, talk to system admins who had an entire deployment process designed around cloning. Especially those populating labs at schools. Most have gotten over it but not all.

At our local Apple club there are a lot of cloning fans. They are mostly older and really upset that they can’t make a clone and boot it somewhere else. I’ve been trying to talk them down for years. But this is the way they’ve done things for a decade or few. Oh, well.

At the end of the day this all comes down to security.

Making most of the OS read only (to us mortals) is great for OS security. But goes totally against the idea of wiping the boot OS and replacing it with a cloned copy.

Indeed, Apple has been warning against issues with system imaging since 2017. Bootable duplicates won’t necessarily run into the same things as an admin attempting to set up a fleet of Macs using system imaging, but it’s the same general area.

An interesting twist to bootable clones on Apple Silicon is turning out to be Apple’s built-in support for lightweight VMs (VirtIO). People like Howard Oakley are suggesting that instead of booting from clones to get back to a known environment, you have your personalized lightweight VM on an external drive. Attach that to any Mac and launch it to get your preferred environment while natively exploiting nearly all of the host’s performance. Apart from things that rely specifically on Apple ID or iCloud (which Apple presently blocks in VMs), this appears to be working very well. The catch is, obviously, this is a solution for Apple Silicon systems only and it only really works well with Ventura (and to some extent Monterey).