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Restoring hard drive after replacing - what disk should I use

I have an early 2008 MacBook running Leopard. I have a new internal hard drive to install as well as a Snow Leopard Install DVD from Apple to upgrade my operating system. I plan on using Time Machine to restore. If I need to use the installation disk when restoring, can I go straight to the Snow Leopard disk or do I need to use the original Leopard disk that came with my MacBook?

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Given that you want to restore your machine from a Time Machine backup (assuming that your TM volume was backing up the entire boot disk), it may be simpler to just boot from the original disk that came with your machine, run the installer, select the language and then choose the "Restore from backup" item in the "Utilities" menu and follow the instructions to select your Time Machine volume. And remember to repartition the new drive with the GUID layout using the version of Disk Utility contained on the DVD before you restore the volume.

Since your MacBook was made before Snow Leopard was released, you should be able to boot and install from the Snow Leopard DVD without any issues, but that will complicate the restore from your Time Machine backup. You may still want to dig out your original disks, though, since the Snow Leopard DVD doesn't contain and won't install the iLife bundle if you're using those apps.

The general rule for Mac OS X releases prior to Lion is that a retail DVD will boot and install directly to any supported machine released before the OS shipped. From the limited testing that I've done, the same is true for Lion and Mountain Lion if a bootable device (e.g. DL-DVD or USB thumb drive) is created from the installer image contained within the upgrade app downloaded from the App Store.

Good luck!

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