Back up broken iMac (Late 2013)

Discussion in 'iMac' started by iOrbit, Mar 21, 2016.

  1. iOrbit macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    my iMac has gone kaput. it appears to be the hard drive. i have been getting a lot of spinning beachball moments lately, tried disk repair - said it can't repair the drive. now it will boot to the apple logo with a loading bar at the bottom but then it will shut down (without making a sound) before the progress bar makes much of any progress.

    now I'm kind of freaking out because some of my latest data (important stuff) wasn't backed up. i want to know what my options are to back this up before it goes in for repair with apple care.

    I've read about target disk mode, will this work? i just ordered a thunderbolt cable - i have a thunderbolt late 2011 MBP.

    will i be able to connect it to my iMac and drag and drop what i can from my iMac's drive?

    my iMac is a Fusion Drive.

    lastly i wondered - is it possible the SSD portion of my drive has died? thats where the OS is and the system can't even get to the OS anymore..
  2. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2010
    London, UK
    Are you able to boot into recovery mode? If so, you might be able to make a back-up to an external hard drive.
  3. iOrbit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    i'll give it a go, but based on what I've read i think i might be better off doing target disk mode. the majority of the 3TB on the drive is backed up. its probably around 300GB of data that isn't. i might be safer cherry picking what i need most of all since failing drives are quite unstable and it could be critical backing up whatever i can with target disk mode.

    if i try backing up the whole thing it might not survive and i may not get much of the data i need?
  4. Howlinmoon macrumors newbie


    Apr 26, 2013
    Check and see if your iMac qualifies for this free drive replacement:
    Granted, it may be too late for you - depending on when you bought it.

    My 2013 iMac drive failed in December 2014, and I had it replaced under AppleCare.
    I didn't bother having it replaced again when I got this link in a notification from Apple early last year,
    since I *assumed* the replacement drive I got wasn't in this bad batch.

    When my drive failed, it failed completely.
  5. iOrbit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    i believe i checked that link yesterday, my iMac isn't part of that batch. it was bought in December 2013. apple care runs out this december for me.

    i just hope i can get my data, atleast some of the important stuff. speaking on that, will i be able to wipe it before i send it in for repair?

    I've been meaning to send this iMac in for months for another issue that I've just kept putting up with:


    it keeps happening but I've felt discouraged about apple replacing it at all since they say this is "normal" i think. which is shocking because our other iMac from 2009 never does it.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "i believe i checked that link yesterday, my iMac isn't part of that batch. it was bought in December 2013. apple care runs out this december for me."

    Then get yourself AND the iMac to a brick-n-mortar Apple store, on the double!

    If it's still under AppleCare, let THEM have a look at it first!

    This is what you paid for in advance, right?
  7. iOrbit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    yes, but my data is really important too. i don't believe apple run a service to allow me to back up what i can from the hard drive. thats the main element to my question - is target disk mode the best option for me?
  8. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    If your hd is dead you may well have lost your data, Apple will try to keep you data but will not go out of their way. If it will boot at all back up to an external drive, if it won't then you will have to pay through the nose for data recovery it can be $1000.

    Target disk mode allows you to boot from another disk it doesn't fix a broken hard drive. You could remove the drive put it in an external enclosure and try to boot from it if it works then it maybe a SATA cable that is dead not the drive but if the drive is dead no sort of software etc will be able to do what you want and professional recovery becomes the only good option.

    This is why back up disks are highly recommended,if you don't back up then you have to accept the consequences, any hard disk can die at any time, you were warned with slowing down, beachballs etc and still failed to back up.
  9. iOrbit, Mar 22, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016

    iOrbit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    thanks for the lecture. i have most of my data backed up, and was intending to reformat soon. But being that i was still using the computer i had some newer files that i hadn't yet backed up. I want to retrieve them if i can before i send it in for repair: which is the heart of my question..

    will target disk mode allow me to access my iMac as an external HDD and retrieve what ever I'm able?
  10. CoastalOR macrumors 68020


    Jan 19, 2015
    Oregon, USA
    It should if your internal fusion drive has not completely failed and the directories are not corrupted. Dealing with a hardware problem can be just a guess for us over the internet. I recommend to give it a try and see if you can access the files you need.
  11. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    No one here knows what has failed, until you do try target disk mode, so all you can do is guess until you give that a chance.
    So, it's important to try target disk mode. Maybe you will get what you want to save - or (if the SSD has failed, which I suspect has happened) you still may not get anything. The SSD has to be close to working order for target disk mode to be successful - but you do have to try that. Keep in mind that SSDs often fail catastrophically (everything gone, sometimes without warning). The hard drive may be completely recoverable (hard to tell from here) or may be causing the issue.
    CoastalOR has a better answer, but still ... Good luck with the target disk mode, etc.
  12. iOrbit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    im jus waiting for the thunderbolt cable to arrive, its coming friday.

    until then, all i can comment on is that it didn't just suddenly stop working, and i noticed that the mechanical drive sounded busy more often in the past couple months. not a really loud distracting sound or anything, but busy.

    in the past week there would be a couple of freezes and force restarts, then it got more frequent on the day i couldn't boot anymore. just having iTunes and safari open and maybe notes and mail was enough for it to keep freezing. launchpad was stuck on "Loading Applications" and my desktop which was cluttered with files was blank.
  13. iOrbit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    the cable came early, its here today. so here we go i guess.
  14. iOrbit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    I've been accessing the hard drive and its very slow when it comes to copying over any files that I'm able to. extremely slow. many files are not able to be copied, so I'm just getting whatever i can. thankfully most of it was backed up than i thought, and i atleast got my iTunes.itl file and whatnot so i know exactly what i had in there when i rebuild the library.

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