Can't back up failing hard drive

Discussion in 'iMac' started by DarthFarley, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. DarthFarley macrumors newbie

    Dec 31, 2012
    I have an imac with a failing hard drive (which Apple will replace as it's covered under their failing hard drive replacement program). But I need to back it up before it is replaced. Utility notes that it is "failing," but it is still functioning. However, when I try to back it up to Time Machine, it only makes it through about 10GB before freezing and requiring a hard reboot, losing all backed up info. Is there some trick to prevent this from happening? Keeping it from freezing? So that I can make a back up before replacing the hard drive? Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!
  2. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    Don't use Time Machine at this point. You need to get that data off ASAP before the drive fails. Manually copy/paste data to an external drive (e.g. go into Documents and select all and copy/paste that data).

    Also, do NOT let this happen again. Maintain proper backups. What would you do if the drive just failed with no way to give you access to it? :mad:
  3. mobilehaathi macrumors G3


    Aug 19, 2008
    The Anthropocene
    You might have to make a simpler back up by copying your important files directly to a drive instead of using time machine. It also sounds like you haven't been keeping your time machine backups up to date!
  4. WesCole macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2010
    I agree with the others...backup your most important stuff first by copying it to another drive, then do the same for the less important stuff.
  5. ndpitch macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2010
    Some people have had success with putting failing hard drives in the freezer for a while and then trying to get the data off. Sounds weird but has worked for people, haha
  6. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Nov 20, 2010
    ladner cdn
    maybe also try using something like superduper to image drive to external drive...but as other have said..i would just manually try copying important files over to external first.

  7. bplein macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2007
    Austin, TX USA
    At this point, be PARANOID and grab a couple of different types of copies, if you have the external disks to do so:

    1) Drag/drop copies to anything else you have (USB keys, hard drives, NAS share, whatever). Do this for your data. Get it, now!
    2) Attempt to make an IMAGE backup of the hard drive (note, this will destroy all data on the external drive!!!):
    • Attach a USB or FW drive of equal or larger capacity, format it with the name "external" or similar
    • Identify the raw device names of your internal (failing) hard drive and the external by running the "mount" command from a terminal.
    • Reboot from the installation media for Mac OS X
    • Open up a terminal, and use "dd" to do a digital, block based copy of your internal hard drive to the external drive

    If you aren't comfortable identifying and KNOWING the physical device name of the internal (failing) hard drive vs. the external hard drive, the above could wipe out your internal drive. The mount command should say something like this for your internal drive

    /dev/disk0s2 on / (hfs, local, journaled)

    (which means it's /dev/disk0)

    and maybe something like this for your external:

    /dev/disk2s2 on /Volumes/external (hfs, local, journaled)

    which would be /dev/disk2

    If you are copying disk0 to disk2, then you would use:

    dd if=/dev/rdisk0 of=/dev/rdisk2 bs=64K

    You might need to unmount (but not eject!) both of these disks from Disk Utility first.
  8. DarthFarley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 31, 2012
    Thank you for the answers. And for what it's worth, I am very careful to back up to Time Machine. A couple of months ago, I got an error message that said - paraphrasing - I need to start over with the back ups, if that's okay, I will erase all your old back ups and start over.

    But then it was never able to complete a full back up after that time. In retrospect, the error message was probably related to the failing hard drive, but I didn't know that at the time. :(

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