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Hi, and welcome to JustAnswer! My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am excited to get started with you.1. If you were to downgrade the size of your hard drive, yes time machine will allow you to manually drag specific files and folders instead of restoring your entire data2. When you were experiencing slowness, that may have been an indication that your hard drive was failing. Now that you have a question mark, it sounds like your drive has failed indefinitely. So yes I would recommend either trying to re-partition it first and if that fails you will need to replace your hard drive. 3. You do not have the option to remove the dvd bay and place a smaller hard drive on a macbook
How reliable of an option is re-partitioning it?
It depends on your hard drive issue. If you are getting a question mark, it could be mechanical or a software. Does your hard drive even show up in disk utility?
No it does not.
Ok then it does need to be replaced for sure. That means it is a mechanical error with the drive and can not be repaired using software
When restoring from time capsule, since it would be a good idea to start fresh from the OS, is it possible to restore the apps as well as the personal files?
You can defiantly restore personal files and you can drag over apple applications. Other applications that require a license, you will need to re-install it
do you mean apps from the app store or only apps like pages and facetime?
Apps like pages. Facetime comes with the operating system so that will be there when you re-install your operating system. Apps from the app store can also be re-downloaded