Lion users who run into disk trouble may be able to get a USB recovery drive with a Lion installer for free from AppleCare. Apple sent out an internal memo to AppleCare and Apple Store employees earlier this week that USB flash drives with Lion are now available to give to qualifying customers, though the customer has to have explored other options first.
A screenshot of the memo in question can be seen at 9to5Mac; Ars was able to independently confirm with an Apple retail employee that the directive is legit and was sent on Tuesday of this week. In order to quality for a free Lion flash drive, users have to have purchased Lion from a legitimate source and must be using a supported Mac, which we’re told will be verified by serial number. Customer must also have failed at using the recovery tools that are already built into Lion—namely, Apple’s new “Internet Recovery” feature.
If that criteria is met and a Tier 2 tech support person gives the thumbs up, that customer can then get the USB drive for free.It’s worth noting that the drive given out by Apple Care or Apple Geniuses won’t have the entire Lion installer on them. Normally, Apple charges customers $69 for a USB install drive. However, you can also create your own if you’ve already purchased Lion from the Mac App Store for $29—all it takes is a saved Lion installer, a blank USB stick, and basic tools that come with Mac OS X. We did an Ask Ars piece on this topic in July when Lion launched, so check it out if you need further instruction. Still, not everyone plans for an emergency ahead of time. So, if someone like your grandmother ends up with a broken Lion install and no way to recover, calling up AppleCare for an emergency USB stick may be your best option.