Help Please Lost Everything on my iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by newlife21, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. newlife21 macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2011
    Im new here so I hope I posted this in the correct forum. I was an idiot and re-loaded Mac OS X 10.5.8 and never backed up my files. I didn't know I would lose everything. But, I did. Everything is gone, all my files, photo's, programs, everything. Is there anyway to restore and find everything or is it just gone? Any help I would gratefully appreciate.
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Data recovery is possible but very, very expensive. It can easily costs hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.
  3. newlife21 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2011
    That's what I was afraid of. Thanks! lol, Guess I'd be perfect for one of the automatic online backup company commercials now.
  4. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    No need for online backups, Time Machine and a cheap external HD and you are in business
  5. xUKHCx Administrator emeritus


    Jan 15, 2006
    The Kop
    If you want to try and recover anything do not use the drive. There are programs you can use to try and recover your items or at least some of them, but it is imperative that you stop using the drive asap.

    I can't remember the all the program names of the top of my head, hopefully someone else can step in, but I didn't want to wait until I can find those programs if you are still using the drive.

    Right now I would think of your data as gone and any you can get back as a bonus.
  6. xUKHCx Administrator emeritus


    Jan 15, 2006
    The Kop
    I have used that one in the past. I found that no one program gets everything and running a range of them gets the best results overall. However these programs are not cheap, although there are a few free ones that I have used quite successfully in the past: TestDisk and PhotoRec
  7. 88 King macrumors 6502

    88 King

    Jun 18, 2011
    London, UK
    I suggest try SpinRite by Steve Gibson. I used it on my mum's laptop with water damage and recovered most of her photos.

    You might need to remove the hard drive from the imac and connect it to another PC to attempt to recover the data.
  8. newlife21 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2011
    Thanks for all the help. Yes I've been using the drive for almost a month, so I'm just accepting the information is lost. Thanks again everyone for taking time and offering your suggestions.
  9. sth macrumors 6502a

    Aug 9, 2006
    The old world
    Do you have a Time Machine disk now? (or any other backup solution)
  10. Mr Rogers macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2003
    Hong Kong
    Back-up first

    Sorry to hear about your issue.

    There are a number of actually forensic programs that could help, similar to Data Rescue buy way more expensive - there are copies of these available for free if you get my gist, just do a OSX, Forensics search on Google and you can grab a copy.

    However, as even I've found out, its important to back-up and storage is not too expensive now, usb 3T options being very cheap and these are fine for Time Machine.

    As others have stated, do not use your HDD, get another Mac in the house and utilise Target Mode to try and recover date, any programme will take a long time though to recover less than 100% of your lost data.

    At the end of the day, back-up with Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner.

    Hope you have some success.
  11. sth macrumors 6502a

    Aug 9, 2006
    The old world
    Question: When you reinstalled 10.5: Did you choose "Archive and Install" or "Erase and Install"?

    If you chose the first one: Check the "Users" folder on your hard drive, maybe your old home directory is still there.
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "Guess I'd be perfect for one of the automatic online backup company commercials now."

    No, it doesn't work like that.

    Backup works better when YOU learn how to set it up, control it, and use it. It's not difficult at all. In fact, it's downright EASY.

    You can get a fully-bootable backup system going for less than $100.

    Here's what you need:
    1. Get one of these:
    (many items shown, they all work the same, get one you like that's cheap -- some cost only about $25)

    2. Then, get a "bare" hard drive from the vendor of your choice (I happen to like and Seagate drives). The drive should be at least as large as the one in your computer.

    3. Then, download "CarbonCopyCloner" from:
    (it's a free download)

    You now have everything to put together a good backup system (and more).

    Once you have these things, do this:
    - hook the USB/SATA dock up to a USB port
    - put the bard hard drive into the dock
    - turn it on (it won't "mount" on the desktop yet because it has to be initialized)
    - use Disk Utility to initialize the docked drive (you may want to "partition" it into 2 or more partitions, as well)
    - once the drive is initialized, it will mount on the desktop (if there is more than one partition, you will see more than one volume icon)
    - give it a distinctive name so you don't confuse it with your internal drive

    - open CarbonCopyCloner
    - on the left side, choose your source drive (the one you want to backup)
    - on the right side, choose your target drive (where the backup is going)
    - choose to backup everything for now
    - hit the "clone" button and enter your password
    - CCC will do the rest -- it will create an exact copy of your internal drive onto the backup drive

    You can even boot from the dock -- try it just to be sure.
    - restart the mac
    - as soon as you hear the startup sound, hold down the option key and keep holding it down
    - the startup manager will appear
    - click on the volume you want to boot from with the mouse (or use the arrow keys) and hit enter
    (note: this does not change the setting in the "Startup Disk" preference pane)

    The advantage of having the dock instead of a "regular external hard drive" is that you can swap out "bare hard drives" as needed, with great ease. It's a very useful accessory to have around!
  13. sth, Jul 14, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011

    sth macrumors 6502a

    Aug 9, 2006
    The old world
    Even easier (not bootable, though):

    - Buy an external hard drive (preferably pre-formatted for Macs, if you want the easiest solution)
    - Connect it to your iMac
    - When the system asks you if you want to use the disk for Time Machine: Click Yes.


    If you don't mind formatting the external drive yourself before using it (takes ~30 seconds), you can save a few $ by not having to buy a pre-formatted drive.
  14. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "Even easier (not bootable, though):

    My opinion only, but for most end-users, "non-bootable" backups are all but useless in a moment of extreme need.

    In most cases, the user is reaching for the backup because he/she can't get the "main" drive (and the computer) booted up.

    Time and time and time again, right here on MacRumors, we see posts from users who "can't access their TM backups". They simply can't "get to" the files they need. And, of course, they can't get booted up from a TM backup.

    NOTHING beats having a bootable clone of your main drive "right there" nearby...
  15. CHSeifert, Jul 15, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2011

    CHSeifert macrumors 6502


    Dec 28, 2010
    Copenhagen, Denmark - Scandinavia
    If you have the OS and programs on a DVD, the average user doesn't need a bootable clone in my view.

    Just a backup drive of docs, sheets, presentations, music, movies, photos and video will be fine !

    I've done it like this for years and so far with only positive results.

    I do use TM in my TimeCapsule from now on, but as I still don't trust TM 100% I still have my backup files on 1 extra external harddrive and backup my most important docs to Dropbox, my contacts and emails to google and notes/todos to Evernote and Toodledo.
  16. sth macrumors 6502a

    Aug 9, 2006
    The old world
    I agree, but for the average consumer, it's not about saving two hours it takes to restore the Time Machine backup. It's about having the fastest, most simple backup process possible, because otherwise they simply won't use it.

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