Tuesday, June 4, 2024

macOS Installer’s “Failed to Personalize” Error

Adam Engst:

Typically, Mac firmware is updated whenever a new version of macOS is installed, but if something goes wrong in the process, the Mac can be left with outdated firmware. When automatic firmware updates fail, the solution is to “revive” or “restore” the Mac using another Mac running macOS 12 Monterey or later and a USB-C cable that supports data and charging, such as the Apple USB-C Charge Cable (Apple explicitly warns against trying to use a Thunderbolt 3 cable). Although Macs running Sonoma can update firmware using the Finder, Apple Configurator is necessary for Macs running Monterey or Ventura, and LALicata’s Apple rep said that this particular problem could be resolved only by restoring from Apple Configurator, not the Finder. (Reviving leaves your data in place and is worth trying first; restoring erases the Mac and reverts it to factory defaults.)


If you’re having problems associated with startup or updating, compare your Mac’s current firmware version with the latest version. Howard Oakley’s excellent Silent Knight utility, which reports on the update status of various system settings, makes that easier.


I’d argue that the problem here revolves around documentation. First, the error message is terrible. What does “Failed to personalize” mean (nothing, in at least this context, and not much in any I can imagine), and how is it related to firmware (it’s not)? […] The error condition might be rare, but it’s not unheard of, so the second problem is that Apple’s article about reviving and restoring Mac firmware doesn’t include the error message text as one of the symptoms of corrupted firmware.


Update (2024-06-06): Paul Goracke:

I had to DFU revive to fix an even more generic install error. Unfortunately, it seems I need to do it again to update to 14.5 😭

3 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

In my experience, if you

- have an M-series Mac
- are at the point that you want to erase and install the latest OS
- have access to another Mac

doing anything other than using Apple Configurator to do a Restore is a waste of time.

I got bit by that when trying to update from macOS 14.3 to 14.5 on an external SSD connected to a 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 Pro.

There were several aggravating factors: the external SSD had 2 distinct partitions and Sonoma was on the second one.

As Alexander said no matter which method I tried (recovery partition, installing from the internal hard drive or from a bootable installer over USB), every time ended up about the same: an ownership problem.

I was not comfortable using Apple Configurator because the issue was with macOS booting from an external drive so in the end here how I managed to solve the issue:
1) Backed up remaining data from the other partitions of the external drive (VMs and macOS installers)
2) Wiped the external hard drive completely and made two partitions, the first one for macOS, the other to hold the stuff I had backed up
3) Reinstalled macOS Ventura on the first partition of the external drive from the Recovery Partition (the internal drive of my MBP is still on Ventura as I want it)
4) Configured an admin account on the external drive
5) Upgraded the external partition to Sonoma 14.5
6) Using migration assistant, restored the apps, settings and main user account backed up using Time Machine when the drive was still on 14.3
7) Cried of joy and relief

I just ran into this within trying to update a VM with macOS - where there's no way to update a firmware.

And, BTW, 3 days ago my Intel Mac suddenly got updated from Monterey to Sonoma, when I was sure I was just trying to allow it to update to the latest Monterey release via the System Prefs pane. Which broke my development processes where I still need Xcode 13.x to build some apps. Downgrading was a huge pain, and trying to move it all to a VM failed due to above mentioned error. I'm so sick of all these recent Apple restrictions and unresolved issues.

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