macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 27, 2014
Need help. Any advice would be much appreciated. Last November I had a strong power surge, long story short it fried my iMac hard drive. I had over 13,000 photos on my computer. I was told I could still retrieve my pictures but it would cost anywhere from $500-$5,000 for them to be placed on a external hard drive. So my question is how to get my pictures on to an external hard drive without paying so much and how big should the drive be? Thanks in advance for any help. :) P.S. The computer turns on but never makes it to the main screen before turning off. :(


Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
You need to remove the drive from the iMac and put it inside an external USB enclosure then see if it can be read from another Mac. If it can, it will be as easy as dragging your photos or iPhoto library from the external disk to another disk.

If you cannot read the drive in an enclosure from another Mac, you may want to try a disk recovery utility like Disk Warrior. Failing that, you are looking at paying a data recovery company to try and recover your data and that can be very costly.


macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
Does the iMac in question have Firewire?
Do you have access to ANOTHER Mac that also has firewire?
If so, you could try starting the damaged iMac in "firewire target disk mode", and see if that gets anywhere (chances are that it won't, but it's still worth the try).

In that case, I also recommend weaselboy's advice. You'll need something called a USB3/SATA docking station in which to place the old drive. You can see what these are at (enter "usb3 sata dock" into the search box. Most cost around $25.

When you put the drive in the dock and connect it, listen to hear if it "spins up".
If the drive mounts on the desktop, be prepared to copy the contents of the drive to ANOTHER drive (could be the internal if you have room).

Chances are the drive survived the power surge, and is still ok.
If it mounts up properly, open Disk Utility and run DU's "repair disk" option on the drive. Do you get good results?
DO NOT choose to re-initialize it! Just use the "repair" (or verify) option.


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 27, 2014
Okay thank you. I'm curious, since nothing is wrong with the screen is there anyway I could still use it instead of buying a new one? I really hate to say it's ****.


macrumors 6502
Jan 24, 2012
How do you know it's the hard drive that's bad? What year is the iMac? Was it diagnosed somehow?

It could be a damaged I/O controller or a blown stage in a buffer as well. To be honest, it could be a lot of things. The comment:

P.S. The computer turns on but never makes it to the main screen before turning off

is troubling.

I don't know if you've done this but you might want to try one or more of the following:

1. See if it will boot from either an install CD (if you have one) or another external, bootable drive. This is a classic example of why people should have some type of emergency boot media available. If you can get it to boot you at least know that most of the logic board is functioning.

2. If you've confirmed that it's the drive you might want to check out the following article: Hard Drive Signs and Symptoms.html

That's got a bunch of sub articles about drive problems in it, and in one of them is a bunch of resets you can do. Possibly, if you're lucky, maybe just some of the system parameters just got messed up. At this point I think task number one would be to just try and get the drive to boot off of something.

With that said, if it turns out the logic board is bad the drive may actually be in good condition and you can pull it and, like the others said, put it in an external enclosure.

Hope this helps, and good luck.
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