Part of the installation of OS X Lion is the creation of a hidden recovery volume. You can use this recovery volume to start your Mac up and perform emergency services, such as running Disk Utility to repair a drive, browsing the web to find information on a problem you're having, or downloading a necessary update or two. You can even use the recovery volume to re-install OS X Lion, although this involves a full download of the OS X Lion installer.
On the surface, the OS X Lion recovery volume seems like a good idea, but as I have noted before, it has a couple of fundamental flaws. The most glaring problem is that the recovery volume is created on your startup drive. If the startup drive has hardware-based issues, it's conceivable that the recovery volume won't be accessible. That can pretty much put a damper on the whole idea of having an emergency recovery volume.
The second issue is that the Lion installation process can run into problems when trying to create the recovery volume. This is especially true for those Mac users who don't use a straightforward drive setup. Many individuals who use RAID arrays for their startup volume have reported that the installer couldn't create the recovery volume at all.
Recently, Apple came to its senses and released a new utility, the Recovery Disk Assistant, which can create a recovery volume on any external hard drive or flash drive. This lets you place the recovery volume almost anywhere you want it.
Unfortunately, there's a little problem with this approach, too. The Recovery Disk Assistant creates a new recovery volume by cloning the existing recovery volume. If your OS X installation was unable to create the original recovery volume, this new utility from Apple is of little use.
The second issue is that for some reason Apple decided that the Recovery Disk Assistant should only create recovery volumes on external drives. If you have a second internal drive, which is certainly possible on many of the Macs Apple sells, including the Mac Pro, iMac, and Mac mini, you won’t be able to use it as a destination for your recovery volume.Create Your Own OS X Lion Recovery HD on Any Drive
Despite these flaws, it's still a good idea to have a recovery volume beyond the one initially created during the OS X Lion installation. With that in mind, let's find out how to use the Recovery Disk Assistant.