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The March 2015 update of Apple's 11" MacBook Air features fifth generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, resulting in slightly increased performance and battery life.

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Failure to update to OS Monteray, insuffient memory, stuck in cycle

My computer initiated the update to Monteray OS, and was pretty clear that I had enough memory to do so. Unfortunately in the middle of the update, it stalled out. I called Apple Support and we ran disk utility etc. and I even went into the Genius bar. They booted me up in Triage mode and we deleted some more files to see if the update would complete. It went further, so I was hopeful and took my laptop home to try and process on its own. It failed again.

Genius bar was pretty clear that if it failed again, I would have to wipe the hard drive. No, I didn't back anything up (I feel pretty stupid about that). I'm wondering if I can get back into Triage mode without the Genius bar and try to find other low value things to delete and try to get this to update, or if it's true that I just need to say goodbye to my files and photos and tear it all down.

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To put it plain and simple, a Triage mode doesn't exist. You could put your Mac into recovery mode and reinstall the OS, but that doesn't solve your needs, as in recovery you can't access your files to selectively decide what to keep and what to delete. Thus to reinstall the OS, since memory is full, you would need to wipe all data.

The alternative would be to start your Mac from an alternative medium, such as a pendrive or external hard disk, where there is a working operating system and from there access you internal drive as if it was a side storage.

You would need to have or buy a drive, boot in recovery mode, https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201255 , format your external drive as Mac Os GUID partition and choose it as destination for installing a new operating system. Once that's done successfully, you can choose the external drive to boot from by pressing the Option key at startup and from there you will eventually be able to see and modify your files in the internal drive. Good luck, hope it helps.

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Erin will be eternally grateful.
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