Help! iMac has died - no backup on Time capsule?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by bulldoze, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. bulldoze macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2011
    Our iMac hard drive has just died and it is full of photos of the first 6 years of our childs life. We have tried repairing the disk but Disk utility says that it cannot do it and switches cpu off when we try to boot. Tried fsck -fy and that says it cannot do it either.

    We have had a time capsule for the life of the machine so I thought that we would be ok but I just tried to browse the time capsule from my Macbook (using alt and clicking on Time machine and browse other backup disks) to see what the latest backup was for the iMac and it does not have an entry for the iMac only the Macbook!

    Getting quite worried now.
  2. bulldoze thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2011
    I can access my iMac using terminal by booting with Cmd-S my main concern is getting these photos backed up somehow.

    Trouble is, how do I access my iPhoto library using terminal? I have navigated to /User/my name/Pictures

    I cannot access /iPhoto Library it says it does not exist although it is in the directory.
  3. Tumbleweed666 macrumors 68000


    Mar 20, 2009
    Near London, UK.
    You might need to call in a specialist data recovery service. This is a hard lesson that you need to test that you can restore from your backups once in a while.

    I would stop doing anything on that disk, you might be making things worse and likely wont make it better.

    Having said that, what does your copy command look like? Is iPhoto Library in quotes and with the correct capitalization?
  4. bulldoze thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2011
    I am currently just trying to find out where iPhoto has put my photos! we had thousands on the hard disk.

    The directory structure appears to be ok and I can navigate around but I cannot cd into iPhoto Library (but then I can't on my Macbook either) just have no idea where to start looking for my photos.

    Copying some onto usb drive would not disrupt the hard drive further I would have thought.
  5. YanniDepp macrumors 6502


    Dec 10, 2008
  6. bulldoze thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2011
    That returns no such file or directory.


    Is it possible that the Time capsule has backed the iMac up and I just do not understand how to 'see' the iMac backups on it for some reason?

    I know it used to work as I did look at some of the backups earlier on in the year, but I was doing that from the iMac, I am now looking from a different computer now and all I can see is the backups from this machine.
  7. petvas macrumors 601


    Jul 20, 2006
    Mannheim, Germany
    That means that the file is either not present or the file structure on disk corrupt. You should go to a specialist or let a friend that knows what to do, take the drive out, connect it on another system and then try to recover as much as data as possible, using a data rescue software.
  8. richard13 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2008
    Mill Creek, WA
    It's possible. When you connect to your Time Capsule you should see a folder called "Time Machine Backups". Double-click that. At this point you should see two images. One for your iMac the other for your MacBook. If there is one for your iMac double-click that. This will mount the image as "Time Machine Backups". Selecting the image will show "Backups.backupdb". Go into that folder. Go into the folder it contains, something like "My iMac". Double-click it. It may take a few minutes for the Time Capsule to find all these. In the meantime it will look like there is nothing there. It will eventually come back with all the backup folders. Double-click the shortcut for "latest".

    If you have gotten this far you probably already know how to navigate to the iPhoto backup.

    Good luck!
  9. macthefork macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2013
    If you hold down the control and option (alt) key when you click on the Time Machine icon, the "Enter Time Machine" choice will change to "Browse Other Backup Disks".

    See if you can then choose the imac backup.

    If it's there it should be intact. Be careful about accessing the data from this point. You don't want to corrupt your backup. If anything, you should make a copy of it, before accessing it, although it will be rather large to do this. If you find it there, it should work for restoring or migrating to a new (different) mac or Hard Drive.
  10. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    I have a Time Capsule (like the OPer) with backups of two machines. I'm pretty confident my backups are both good, but the above method doesn't work for me.

    Instead, connect to your TC via Finder as richard13 suggested. I have a suspicion the backup of the iMac is there all right...
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    [[ I can access my iMac using terminal by booting with Cmd-S my main concern is getting these photos backed up somehow. ]]

    Time to sit back for a bit, take some deep breaths, and think things over.

    The fact that you can "access the drive" suggests that the drive has not experienced a hardware failure, but instead has software problems (that seem to prevent the iMac from booting).

    Just because you can't _boot from_ a drive, doesn't mean the drive is "dead". The files on it may still be intact, and the drive may still be "mountable" from another source (i.e., from another computer that is booted up).

    Can you boot to the recovery partition? You mentioned you could get to fsck -fy above, how did you get "that far" to begin with?

    Do you have another Mac in the house, or another Mac (available at some other location) to which you can connect the iMac?

    The thing you want to try next is to connect the problem iMac to another Mac via "firewire target disk mode", and see if you can mount the drive that way.

    It's quite possible that the drive can be mounted, with the files "visible".
    In that case, you can copy them to another drive.

    Did you keep your photos in the "default" location (home/pictures/iPhoto Library) ??
    Or somewhere else?

    Actually, the easiest thing to do would be to copy your entire home folder(s) to another drive. Just "use the finder" for the copying.

    Yes, I know it's too late now. But if you had a "bootable clone backup" instead of a Time Machine backup, you wouldn't be here asking for help now. You would have copies of your files immediately accessible, and you would have had a "second boot source" so you could run the iMac withOUT being able to boot from the internal drive.

    I suggest that in the future, you get ahold of either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper, and use one of them to create and maintain a bootable clone backup drive.

    Then you'll be much more protected in that "moment of extreme need", like the one you're having now!
  12. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    That's weird. What release of OS X are you on? Has Mavericks somehow added some new "protection" for package files when using Terminal, like it does in Finder? I can cd into my iPhoto library using Terminal, but the fact that you can't on your MacBook either makes me wonder whether it's your version of the OS stopping you.

    (I'm on 10.8.5 Mountain Lion.)
  13. bulldoze thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2011
    I can get into time capsule via my macbook (I am connecting via wifi) and I see the backups.backupdb icon but when I click on that I only see a Macbook folder and not the iMac one as well.

    I cannot get into the iPhoto Library directory although it is listed but then again I can't get into the one on my Macbook either and that is working perfectly well. (The Macbook is running Mavericks while the iMac is running Lion)

    I am quite capable of getting these files off (or at least I used to be, my sysadmin skills are likely to have faded a bit) if I could just find out where they are!

    Copying the whole home directory is not an option at the moment my Macbook has only about 50gb of space on its SSD.


    Not sure if it has anything to do with the fault but I just turned the iMac off now as it was extremely hot to the touch!
  14. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    Hmmm. If your TC works like my TC (maybe not, since I have 1st-gen TC), there would be separate ".sparsebundle" files for each machine, and they're at the root level of the TC's internal disk. The "backups.backupdb" folder is inside the ".sparsebundle" file (at least on my setup).

    My two machines back up to different TC disks right now, but for awhile they both backed up to my TC internal drive and I distinctly remember there being two ".sparsebundle" files at the top level, one for each machine. It sounds like we might have different TM backup structures. Sorry I couldn't help.
  15. lstone19 macrumors member

    May 3, 2010
    Not sure where you're getting the .photolibrary extenstion as I do not see it. For me (both on a Mountain Lion system and on a Mavericks system), there is no extension on the folder name. Either
    cd "iPhoto Library"
    cd iPhoto\ Library
    works (the \ "escapes" the space and tells the command line interpreter that the space in included in the parameter rather being a separator that starts a new parameter).
  16. YanniDepp macrumors 6502


    Dec 10, 2008
    It's definitely called "iPhoto Library.photolibrary" on all 3 of my Macs. It's described as an "iPhoto Library 9.5" file.
  17. bulldoze thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2011
    Ok, I have been a bit stupid.

    I am sure I tried the cd command with quotes before but I must have done something wrong as it does work now!

    160gb of photos. looks as though I should at least be able to recover these even if the Time capsule has not backed up the iMac. Might have to invest in a portable hard drive to fit them on now.

    At least I can now take the edge of the panic attack my wife will have when she gets home and finds her beloved computer dead. Truth is, the iMac has been beach balling a lot for a few months now, no doubt she will use this as an excuse to get a new iMac.
  18. lstone19 macrumors member

    May 3, 2010
    How odd. I have the latest and greatest iPhoto (upgraded right after installing Mavericks last weekend) and nothing under Pictures with "photolibrary" anywhere in the name. A vestige of an older version perhaps? Or maybe not having it is a vestige of an older version.
  19. bulldoze thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2011
    Is it worth just taking the iMac and Time Capsule to the Apple store and seeing if they could sort it?

    Anyone estimate how much it would cost for them to fit a new hard drive, install maverick and recover our data to it? We have just moved into a new house and I really have no time to mess with this!
  20. FreemanW macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2012
    The Real Northern California
    Glad you have gotten into the directory containing your images. FULLSTOP


    Do not put power to that hdd again until . . . .

    Line your ducks up with hard disk drive space sufficient for all data. FULLSTOP

    A means of extracting the iMac hdd and connecting it to a working Mac for the purposes of data recovery.

    Good luck! ;)

    I am always very cautious about data and data loss regarding services that are not explicitly represented as "Data Recovery Services" like manufacturer repair facilities. If you were to employ a local Apple Store Service department/Genius, I would emphasize that the utmost primary, no, solitary concern was retrieving the photo image files.
  21. bulldoze thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2011
    Just to update on this, although I advised my wife to not touch the hard drive now and just get it sorted at the apple store she has connected the time capsule to it and done a restore.

    There was a recent iMac backup on the time capsule so thats a relief. Although I am still unsure as to why I could not see it from my macbook even though i used finder and also browse other devices etc.

    So she has restored it now and no doubt she will keep on using it until it dies properly, the machine still has major issues - it is the slowest computer I have ever used, beach balling interminably on even the simplest tasks. I just remembered that the hard drive is one of the seagate faulty ones that we were supposed to get replaced by apple a couple of years ago, we never did, she did not want to be without the computer for the 10 days that the Apple store said it would take.

    She is convinced it is the cpu as that maxes out all the time - but I think it is just trying to make sense of the mess of the hard drive. But, there is no talking to her! it is her computer after all.

    Meanwhile I will quietly backup again all the most important photo folders onto my macbook and then onto the cloud and await the inevitable!
  22. hpucker99 macrumors member

    Nov 20, 2009
    See if you can still get th ehard drive swapped out for free. You have nothing to lose. Apple will keep the old drive, so if you take it to them make sure you have everything off. I would buy another USB external drive and just copy everything of interest to it as a second backup.
  23. bulldoze thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2011
    Yes, I am starting to think that having another external drive other than the time capsule would be a good idea, especially as I have just seen how cheap these things are now!

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