1970 as Creation Date, but clock OK

OSXphoto

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 23, 2013
40
0
Hello,

On my Mac Pro 2010, I have about 130,000 files that lost their Creation Date. Snow Leopard shows a "- -" and Mountain Lion shows the Unix "beginning of times" 1-1-1970 01:00. Files affected are mainly Canon RAW files (.CR2) but also .xls, .pdf, .txt, .mht, .htm and many many more.

I have been advised to replace my backup battery (the BR2032 behind the video card), which allegedly should be responsible for this issue. I haven't seen any faulty clock settings but that may be explained by the fact that I use a time server so an empty battery could go unnoticed.

My questions:
#1 Is the backup battery the real cause of this problem?
#2 If so, how can an empty battery remove/empty the Capture Date field?
#3 How can so many files be affected (well over 100,000)?
#4 Do I need to fix this or can I just leave the affected files Capture Date-less?
#5 If I need to fix, how?

Thanks!
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
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Boston
A computer keeps time one of two ways.

Manually setting it, and then keeping the time via a battery.
Syncing with an external server.

If the syncing fails and the battery is dead you will get incorrect times, either 1970 on Macs and 1901 for other computers.

With that said, did you try moving a RAW file to another computer, preferably a different platform to see if it exhibits the same problem. It may be OSX's RAW decoding that is having a problem.
 

OSXphoto

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 23, 2013
40
0
Hi Mike, thank you for responding.
A computer keeps time one of two ways.

Manually setting it, and then keeping the time via a battery.
Syncing with an external server.

If the syncing fails and the battery is dead you will get incorrect times, either 1970 on Macs and 1901 for other computers.
OK I accept that. But why would this issue affect files that have been on my hard drive for a very long time? Why would they suddenly be accessed and altered?

With that said, did you try moving a RAW file to another computer, preferably a different platform to see if it exhibits the same problem. It may be OSX's RAW decoding that is having a problem.
Yes I just did. I copied an affected RAW file to my Macbook and there was no Capture Date there either.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
65,874
32,200
Boston
Yes I just did. I copied an affected RAW file to my Macbook and there was no Capture Date there either.
Did you check the capture date on the camera? Or did you use Canon's proprietary software to view the RAW files?
 

OSXphoto

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 23, 2013
40
0
Did you check the capture date on the camera? Or did you use Canon's proprietary software to view the RAW files?
The capture date on the camera for newly added files is filled and it's the correct date. I just took a new exposure and copied that file onto my hard drive.

Many other files, like spreadsheets and PDF's have the same issue. And not all RAW files are affected, I have about 20,000 RAWs that don't have problems.
 

OSXphoto

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 23, 2013
40
0
Non-photo files also affected

Just as a reminder so we don't focus on RAW files too much: there are other file types that have the same issue. About 20,000 of them. So it really hasn't anything to do with the camera or photos.

Unchecking the time server hasn't led to date inconsistency. The Mac Pro has been shut down for two nights already but the date is still correct. I'll change the battery anyway (I took delivery of the new Panasonic BR2032 yesterday) but I suspect the battery is not the cause of the problem. Most of the files that are affected have been sitting quietly without being accessed for years. I don't see why the OS should alter their date fields if they are not accessed at all.
 

ElectricSheep

macrumors 6502
Feb 18, 2004
498
2
Wilmington, DE
File creation dates are stored within the Catalog File of an HFS+ volume; they are not attached to the actual file-data on the disk. Once a creation date has been updated in an HFS+ Catalog File Record, it will not change even if the system clock fails.

The fact that so many files have suddenly lost their creation dates indicates an issue with the filesystem itself. I would strongly consider updating/making backups, and giving disk-utility a run to verify the volume structure.
 

OSXphoto

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 23, 2013
40
0
File creation dates are stored within the Catalog File of an HFS+ volume; they are not attached to the actual file-data on the disk. Once a creation date has been updated in an HFS+ Catalog File Record, it will not change even if the system clock fails.

The fact that so many files have suddenly lost their creation dates indicates an issue with the filesystem itself. I would strongly consider updating/making backups, and giving disk-utility a run to verify the volume structure.
Hi, thanks for sharing your knowledge! I always make ample backups even when I don't have problems, so that is covered. I ran disk utility but no problems were reported. Is this Catalog File per disk or per logical drive? I have about 4 disks and 10 drives, I'll make sure to recheck them all.

If disk utility doesn't find anything, are there other more specialised utilities that could help detecting whatis wrong?

Thanks again!
 

ElectricSheep

macrumors 6502
Feb 18, 2004
498
2
Wilmington, DE
Hi, thanks for sharing your knowledge! I always make ample backups even when I don't have problems, so that is covered. I ran disk utility but no problems were reported. Is this Catalog File per disk or per logical drive? I have about 4 disks and 10 drives, I'll make sure to recheck them all.

If disk utility doesn't find anything, are there other more specialised utilities that could help detecting whatis wrong?

Thanks again!
Each volume has its own HFS+ Catalog File (assuming that it is formatted HFS+). These days, I'm not sure what the best alternative to Disk Utility is; DiskWarrior used to be pretty solid as a commercial product for repairing HFS volumes and recovering data when Disk Utility could not, but has not been updated in some time.
 

OSXphoto

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 23, 2013
40
0
All drives are perfectly OK.

Well I decided to just fix the dates as no one really knows what caused this. I'm using A Better Finder Attributes 5 to fix the dates. I guess if this has happened once it can happen again, but I'll only notice once I start from a new configuration where there are no faulty dates in the files.

So thanks for your input so far. I'll report back if the problem happens again.
 

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