Help! HD crash, need to recover files!

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Mopar, Apr 14, 2011.

  1. Mopar macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    So the HD on my 2008 MacBook Pro is corrupted and I can only boot up using the Install Disk. Can't repair the HD using Disk Utility, either, so need to reformat it. I haven't backed up my files (yeah, I know!) and I don't have an external hard drive.

    I do have a couple other Macs, but so far no luck. So I might need some help . . .

    First thing I did was connect my MBP to my G5 iMac via ethernet, rebooted the MBP using the install disk and went to Disk Utility to try to copy my HD over to the iMac using the Restore (copy) function.

    The iMac wouldn't mount on the left-hand side, so although I have a Source (obviously the MBP HD), I don't have a Destination drive. Tried everything and still couldn't get the iMac to mount.

    Now, if I hit "New Image", I can get a window to pop up on the MBP that shows the iMac as a "Shared" device - so I know I have a good connection. However, it still won't mount for me to copy . . .

    Is there a fix for this? Appletalk is on, there is a good ethernet connection, and full file-sharing etc is turned on. When I try to connect to server from the iMac, it doesn't detect the MPB . . .

    Plan B is to connect up my wife's MacBook Air to see if I can copy everything on to her HD - but the MBA doesn't have an ethernet port! So I need to connect some other way (does Airport work when you boot up from an Install disc?) and figured I'd just go out and buy a Firewire cable and try this.

    Does anyone know if this will work? My MBP is a 2008 model (Al, not unibody) and is running 10.5. The MBA is the latest model and running 10.6. If I simply plug the firewire cable into eah port, then reboot the MBP using the Install disc, will this mount the MBA HD in the left-hand column of Disc Utility which I can then select as the destination disc when I copy?

    I'm only asking all this because if there's a better way, I'd like to hear it! I know you can get ethernet to USB cables for MBAs that allow you to connect computers using ethernet, but a firewire cable is cheaper and probably quicker than USB - if it works!

    Any advice appreciated. Thanks.
  2. tersono macrumors 68000


    Jan 18, 2005
    If the disk is corrupt, the disk is corrupt. Unlikely you're going to be able to mount it. You could try a data recovery specialist, but frankly this is why Apple includes TimeMachine with OS X. Backups are a good idea....
  3. Mopar thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    Yeah, I know. But just to reiterate - and to avoid any confusion - the corrupt disk (MPB) is mounting just fine. (When I say "corrupt", I mean the OS is corrrupt and can't be repaired without reformatting the disc.) It's the destination disc that won't mount.

    When I boot up my MBP using the Installer Disk, this is pretty much what it looks like (this is not my machine - images taken off the web):


    Note there are only two images mounted on the left-hand side: the hard drive and the user drive - the other machine that is connected (G5 iMac) should also appear in this colum, yes?

    When I go to "New Image" or "Burn", I get a popup window like the one below which shows the G5 iMac under the "Shared" heading - so I know I have a valid connection.


    Remember, the above image is not from my computer - I'm just using these as reference.

    I just want to know why the other machine (the good one) is not mounting so that I can copy everything over to it.

    Failing that, I want to know if I can connect a MacBook Air to my ailing MPB using a firewire cable and copy from the MBP to the MBA. Thanks.
  4. Mopar thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    Hm. Posted a detailed response with links, but it said a moderator needed to approve it first. Suffice it to say, it's not the corrupt HD that won't mount, it's the other computer (iMac) that I'm trying to copy to that won't mount. When I say "corrupt" I mean the OS is corrupt and can't be repaired until the HD is reformatted. Yes, backups are a good idea, but it's a bit late now . . .
  5. itickings macrumors 6502a


    Apr 14, 2007
  6. Mopar thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    OK, I'm an idiot - my wife's MBA doesn't have a firewire port. It's got two USB ports, so I just bought a USB-ethernet adapter and will try that. I think the iMac isn't mounting because it's a G5 (Motorola CPU) and the MBP is a C2D - as is the MBA.

    The error message when verifying the disk is "Invalid node structure. Volume check failed. Error: Filesystem verify or repair failed."

    I'm going to try hooking it up the MBA as an external drive . . .
  7. Mopar thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    Well that doesn't work either. Now I'm stumped. Like the iMac, I've got an ethernet connection but still can't see the hard drive mounted.
  8. Mopar thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    There must be a way to do this . . .

    I can boot the corrupt OS machine using the Install Disk.

    The machine recognises external USB devices, as when I plug in a thumb drive it shows up as a disk/volume/image in Disk Utility. (Thumb drive is obviously not big enough to backup on.)

    I don't have a Firewire cable, so can't boot up in Target mode yet to run the machine off another hard drive OS (will have to buy a Firewire cable tomorrow - MacBook Air doesn't have a port, but the iMac does).

    I know I have a good ethernet connection (green) and I can see the other computers (MBA and iMac) when I go to Burn/Open Disk Image etc on the damaged machine - they show up as Shared devices.

    I can see all the files/folders I want to copy on the damaged machine.

    What I can't work out how to do is copy files/folders on to the machines that are connected.

    I can't even copy the individual files/folders to the USB thumb drive.

    And I can't use the other machines as a Startup Disk.

    How the hell do you copy files/folders from one machine to another - or even an external device - using Disk Utility? How can I start up using another machine instead of the Install Disk?

    Surely someone knows some of these things???

    Sorry, but I've searched all night and I can't find the answer. I'm going to bed!
  9. Mopar thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    OK, I can connect to a remote server (the MBA) using Terminal (Shell>New Remote Connection>ssh/sftp), but not sure what to do next . . .

    At least this proves I can connect to the good machine. Now, how do I transfer files to it? (Really going to bed this time!)
  10. AshMan macrumors regular

    May 1, 2010
    I would say simplest thing to do would be get a new hard drive in an external housing, swap it into the mbp, install the OS on the new drive inside the mbp, then once it is up, plug in the old hard drive in the external housing and copy your files over...

    That would be what I would do.

    At the same time you could upgrade to more space and it should not cost that much in hardware for a new larger drive plus an external housing.
  11. lostless macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2005
    I say if you dont feel like removing the hard drive, buy a firewire external HD. Install OSX onto it so you can at least boot into the machine without possibly overwriting your data. (OSX can boot off external drives) Then get some type of data recovery program. They cost about 100 bucks. They work pretty well, but take hours to read every sector on the Hard drive. BUt if the HD is physically corrupted, not just a corrupted file system, your milage may vary.
  12. itickings macrumors 6502a


    Apr 14, 2007
    As added bonus, the external drive can be reused afterwards for backups when as much as possible has been rescued for now. :D
  13. Mopar, Apr 14, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011

    Mopar thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    Hi guys, thanks for the advice. An external HD is probably on the cards at some stage, as I can use it for backup and storage later. No point buying a new internal HD, as I already have a 250Gb drive in the MBP - which is plenty. I'd rather buy a new machine and spec an SSD (which I will be doing anyway in the near future).

    And yes, I know Macs can boot up from external drives, but the frustrating thing is I have literally three external drives sitting right in front of me at the moment in the forms of different Macs: G3 iBook, G5 iMac, and the newer MBA.

    Unless someone here knows a bit of Unix and can help me transfer the files that way using Terminal, my next three plans of action are:

    1. Buy a Firewire cable and connect the MBP to the iMac and try to boot up in Target mode - does anyone know if this works between G5 and C2D machines? That's all I'm worried about - the iMac OSX runs off a Motorola chip, not an Intel. The MBA has no Firewire port, so I can't boot up off that. EDIT: It seems this is possible, though there are some known issues - worth a shot. See:

    2. Get a copy of Disk Warrior - $100 - and try to repair the HD that way. Anyone have experience with this?

    3. Buy an external HD, load OSX on to it and boot off that. Would probably have to be a USB HD, as I can only use a Firewire HD with my old machines, which I don't use much and am going to get rid of at some stage anyway. Probably cheaper than a copy of Disk Warrior!

    Any other advice before I do any of these things? Thanks. I know a bit about Macs - owned them for almost 20 years - but I obviously need help from someone who knows a little more . . .
  14. AshMan macrumors regular

    May 1, 2010
    external usb would be a great solution if you ask me.

    Load osx on it, boot into osx, copy over your data, then reformat the internal drive, reinstall osx and you are done.

    There is a free cloning program called carbon copy cloner and another called superduper that will both allow you to clone the entire drive as well.

    You could try booting your mbp in taget disk mode, then connect it via usb or firewire to one of the other machines and see if it will mount it as an external disk.
  15. AshMan macrumors regular

    May 1, 2010
    apple support article on target disk mode:

    see below:

    Learn how to use and troubleshoot FireWire target disk mode.

    Products Affected
    Mac OS, Portable Computers, Desktop Computers

    FireWire target disk mode allows a Macintosh computer with a FireWire port (the target computer) to be used as an external hard disk connected to another computer (the host). Once a target computer is started up as a FireWire hard disk and is available to the host computer, you can copy files to or from that volume.

    Host computer requirements

    Host computers must meet these requirements:

    Built-in FireWire port or a FireWire port on a PC card
    FireWire 2.3.3 or later
    Mac OS 8.6 or later
    Target computers
    These models can be used as target computers:

    iMac (Slot Loading) with Firmware version 2.4 or later
    iMac (Summer 2000) and all models introduced after July 2000
    eMac (all models)
    Mac mini (all models)
    Power Mac G4 (AGP Graphics) with ATA drive
    Power Mac G4 Cube
    Power Mac G4 (Gigabit Ethernet) and all models introduced after July 2000
    Power Mac G5 (all models)
    Mac Pro (all models)
    iBook (FireWire) and all models introduced after September 2000
    PowerBook G3 (FireWire)
    PowerBook G4 (all models)
    MacBook Pro (all models)
    MacBook models introduced before October 2008
    Read more about FireWire Ports and Specifications.

    Note: FireWire Target Disk Mode works on internal PATA or SATA drives only. Target Disk Mode only connects to the master PATA drive on the Ultra ATA bus. It will not connect to Slave ATA, ATAPI, or SCSI drives.

    Before attempting FireWire target disk mode, check these items:

    Make sure your software and firmware are up to date.
    Disconnect all other FireWire devices from both computers before you use FireWire target disk mode. Do not connect any FireWire devices until after you have disconnected the two computers from each other or have stopped using target disk mode.
    If "Open Firmware Password" has been enabled the computer will not go into Target Disk mode. More information on Open Firmware Password is available in the "What to do if your Mac doesn't enter FireWire Target Disk Mode" section of this article.
    If you will be transferring FileVault-protected home directories (Mac OS X v10.3 or later only), log in as the FileVault-protected user and temporarily turn off FileVault. After transferring home directory contents to the target computer, enable FileVault protection again if you like.
    To use FireWire target disk mode
    Make sure that the target computer is turned off.
    If you are using an Apple portable computer such as a PowerBook or MacBook as the target computer, plug in its AC power adapter.
    Use a FireWire cable to connect the target computer to a host computer. The host computer can be powered on.
    Start up the target computer and immediately press and hold down the T key until the FireWire icon appears. The hard disk of the target computer should become available to the host computer and will likely appear on desktop. (If the target computer is running Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger, you can also open System Preferences, choose Startup Disk, and click Target Disk Mode. Restart the computer and it will start up in Target Disk Mode.)
    When you are finished copying files, locate the target computer's hard disk icon on the desktop of the host computer and drag it to the Trash or choose Eject (or Put Away) from the File menu.
    Press the target computer's power button to turn it off.
    Unplug the FireWire cable.
    Tips for using target disk mode with Intel-based Mac computers

    If you attempt to mount an Intel-based Mac in target disk mode on a Macintosh running Mac OS X v10.3.9 or earlier, you'll see an alert message. For more information, see Intel-based Macs: "You have inserted a disk containing no volumes that Mac OS X can read" alert message.

    If your Intel-based Mac is becoming unresponsive while in Target Disk Mode, refer to Intel-based Mac may become unresponsive in target disk mode.

    What to do if your Mac doesn't enter FireWire target disk mode

    If your computer does not enter FireWire target disk mode when you hold down the T key at startup and instead starts up into Mac OS, try these steps:

    Make sure the FireWire cable is good, and check the connection.
    Make sure no other FireWire devices are connected.
    Make sure you are starting up the computer while pressing and holding down the T key.
    Check the keyboard connection. Make sure the keyboard is connected directly to the computer and not through a display or hub. Whenever possible use an Apple wired or wireless keyboard.
    Make sure that Open Firmware Password has not been enabled on this computer. Depending your OS version you may need to download the Open Firmware Password software. For more information on Open Firmware passwords, review Setting up firmware password protection in Mac OS X.
  16. Mopar thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    Cheers mate. I found that Apple support articel shortly after typing my last post (see EDIT).

    I'll try starting up in Target mode and see if I can mount the MBP HD on the iMac desktop and try copying files that way. An external USB drive will likely be on the cards anyway - and I can get one for the same price as a copy of Disk Warrior (unless you think DW is still worth getting? I've always had more than two Macs at home, though this is the first time I've had any real dramas - maybe I've been lucky?).

    I've also got some Unix code to try now (rsync /filepath/ /user@IP:/filepath/) to see if I can transfer the files via SFTP using Terminal. I'm not up with coding Unix, but I might have someone who can talk me through it.

    He also suggested running an fsck command to see if that will fix the HD - worth a shot?
  17. BobbyCat macrumors regular


    Jul 22, 2002
    FireWire used to work well. If your drive's not physically hurt, you should be able to mount it.
    From there you can use for instance Data Rescue if necessary (try the demo first :

    Disk Warrior will fix the directories, no sweat. But it won't help if you can't connect to the drive.
    DW is a must for healthy maintenance anyway.

    You can do that in any case, works fine. If you recover your drive, you could use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone your boot-up volume everyday on the new external HD. That way, not only you have a daily updated exact copy of your vital drive, but you can also boot from it anytime and resume you work.

    I've recovered many drives in the past, but also lost a few.

    My 2 cents, good luck.
  18. Mopar thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    That's great info - thanks.

    If I download DW and burn it onto a DVD (using the iMac), I assume I can use that to boot up and try to repair the HD on my MBP - is that right?

    Also, I haven't used Time Machine yet (as I don't have an external drive or network backup), but wouldn't that do the same thing as CCC?

    Been a bit slack about backing up lately, as most of my important files are actually backed up on an old PowerBook (TiBook), but when I went to boot it up the other day, it wouldn't even turn on (I think it's the power jack). So if worse comes to worst, yes I do have another hard drive with most of my important files on it that I know is in working order and can be removed and recovered if need be. I'm just trying to work the simplest solutions first.

    Thanks for everyone's help - I'm learning alot as I go along. It's funny how the only time I seem to learn more about my Macs is whenever something goes wrong!
  19. BobbyCat macrumors regular


    Jul 22, 2002
    Yes, unless the drive is gone or beyond reach.

    Not quite, and you can use both, simultaneously, for different volumes and purposes. Time Machine adds new back-up files everyday until the back-up drive is full, then it starts deleting old back-ups. It's OK if you want to keep all copies of your files at all times, but a bit cumbersome if you only need the last version.

    CCC can do a total copy of your boot drive (including hidden files), and simply add and remove what's changed everyday. This bootable copy doesn't grow. All you need is a volume about the size of your boot volume.

    Let us know how it went...
  20. Mopar thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    One final question (for now). Is it worth partitioning my HD when I reformat it and then load an extra copy of OSX on the other partition (ie, two OSs - one for each partition)?

    This is what I did when I ran OS9 and OSX on my old TiBook - one partition for OSX, the other for OS9.

    I never had any problems doing this, but is it correct to assume that if one partition (OS) becomes corrupted, then I can boot up and repair it using the other partition (second OS)? Sort of like backing up on the same HD?

    Or is it a case that regardless of how many partitions you have, once a hard drive is compromised, you can't use any part of the disK? Or is that only in certain cases?

    Thanks again.
  21. itickings macrumors 6502a


    Apr 14, 2007
    Good find, it kind of reminds me of something... :p

    I wouldn't bother with that. Sure, there are situations that it could facilitate recovery for, but they are rare, and I would prefer not to lose space. Better to rely on backup & DiskWarrior or equivalent.
  22. Mopar thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    Well, I've obviously got a bit of a problem on my hands, because Target Mode didn't work. Bought the Firewire cable, plugged it in, but the only thing I could get to show up on my iMac desktop was the Install Disk on the MBP - the hard drive wouldn't display. Even after removing the Install Disk, nothing showed up.

    If it's that damaged, there's a slim chance I can get it to mount on an external hard drive . . . so maybe Disk Warrior might have to be my next option.

    There's a lesson in all of this . . .
  23. Mopar thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    Haha! Cheers mate! You know I've been stressing about trying to save my files so much I can't even remember if I clicked that link or Googled it :eek:

    It was probably your link ;)
  24. itickings macrumors 6502a


    Apr 14, 2007
    Yeah, backups... Too bad if it has to be a painful lesson though, still hoping you can get everything or at least something back. Depending on the state, booting DiskWarrior and rebuilding the directory could make it accessible.

    If you boot with the install disc, can you still see the drive in Disk Utility? If you can, what is it's S.M.A.R.T. status when selecting the physical drive there?

    Didn't mean it like that, just found it entertaining when it was posted in the thread for a third time by AshMan. But definitively better a couple of times extra than not posted at all. :D
  25. Detrius macrumors 68000

    Sep 10, 2008
    Asheville, NC
    So, next step is running Disk Warrior on the thing in target disk mode. Take note whether Disk Warrior shows any messages about hardware failures, as that could be indicative of a bad drive. Once Disk Warrior finishes it's pass, click Preview and get your data off the drive from the preview that shows up, as if the drive is bad, replacing the directory structure could make it worse.

    So long as your drive is good, though, you should have virtually no reason to format the drive. Disk Warrior can fix almost everything. On the other hand, nowadays, if you *need* to run Disk Warrior to get your system to boot again, there's probably something bigger going on that a software fix isn't going to resolve. So, again, you should definitely back up your data.

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