help with backing up HD

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by bryantm3, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. bryantm3 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2003
    #1
    i pretty much know how to back up the hard drive with time capsule, but i have a couple of concerns. the thing is, my hard drive is corrupted and i'm going to have to take my iMac into the apple store so they can reinstall the OS (i lost the disks). i have mac 10.6.

    first a little backstory— my computer has been running incredibly slow, and doesn't pass the test in disk utility. the apple folks recommended that we wipe the hard drive and reinstall the operating system.

    my concerns are, first, my hard drive is nearly full of i have no idea what. it's a 320 GB hard drive and i have no idea how it got filled up— i know that it is partially due to when we had the 2005 iMac model and got it replaced, they put everything that was on the hard drive from the old computer onto the new computer, not into a little folder or anything, just as-is. but that hard drive was only 160 GB, so it still doesn't account for all the mysterious crap on the hard drive.

    so, my question is— do i really want to put all that crap back onto the hard drive again when it may have been what was causing the problem in the first place? it would seem to me that it would make more sense to selectively put things back on there like photos and music.

    second question is, if i decide to selectively put stuff back on the computer, is it possible to just drag and drop applications onto the clean hard drive, or are there registry keys and whatnot that will not work if i do that? the reason i ask is because i use the microsoft office suite from 2003, i really like the way it works and since it's been almost 10 years, i have no clue where the disks are. i want to be sure that i don't do this haphazardly and end up having to buy a whole new software set because i didn't prepare.

    the last question i have is, time capsule seems to be a constant thing— it constantly reloads and changes stuff on the external HD. if i just want to do a one-time backup for a situation like this, will it flummox the thing if i disconnect it after the first backup, and will the backup be complete when i try to load stuff back onto the computer?

    i know these are probably pretty simple questions, but nonetheless i'm not as up to date on these sorts of things as i used to be. i appreciate any help i can get!

    thanks,

    daniel
     
  2. smirk macrumors 6502a

    smirk

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    #2
    Well, let's see if we can tackle some of your questions, and hopefully other people will chime in as well...

    1) Wiping the drive and reinstalling the OS sounds reasonable to me, given that you have all your data stored in Time Machine. Apparently, some disk corruption has occurred on your drive that Disk Utility can't repair. Rather than struggling with repairing the disk and verifying your data, the Apple folks want to erase it (to correct the disk corruption) and reinstall the OS (to presumably correct the slowness).

    2) Generally speaking, as long as your drive is less than 85% full then merely having files on there won't cause slowdowns. In other words, having 250 GB of "stuff" on there wouldn't cause speed problems, so putting all that "stuff" back after a reinstall isn't a problem.

    Your computer could be running slow from misbehaving software or drivers, corrupt settings, or perhaps just general corruption that has resulted from the disk errors. Or perhaps there's an actual physical disk problem that is causing all disk access to appear slow.

    I think as long as the stuff you're restoring is data (your documents, music, photos, etc.) then you're totally fine -- that stuff won't affect your computer's speed. The same for apps. I would be more wary of restoring items that live in /Library or /System, since those could affect the operation of your OS. Since we don't know what's causing the slowdown, however, it's hard to say.

    Run a program like JDiskReport to see what's taking up so much space, if you're curious.

    3) Some applications can be simply copied over and they will work, but this isn't guaranteed. For sure the preferences are stored separately, but also many apps store data outside of /Applications. But you know, I seem to recall that version of Office as not having an installer. Wasn't that version installed by dragging the application icon from the CD into your Application folder? And then the first time it was run it would install whatever it needed into the proper folders. So you may have lucked out with that one. It will ask for a serial number, however. If someone else knows where that is stored, you may be able to just restore one file from Time Machine to preserve your "ownership" of Office.

    In a nutshell, I think it will be hit or miss if you try to reinstall all your apps by dragging them over. I would try to avoid that.

    4) I don't understand your question about the one-time backup and disconnecting Time Machine.
     
  3. bryantm3 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2003
    #3
    thanks! this helped. i also have one more question— there are two users on the computer and i started time machine from my desktop— will it back up the other user as well, or will i need to go over to his account and back up from there as well?
     
  4. smirk macrumors 6502a

    smirk

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    #4
    Hi, it will back up the entire drive -- all users. If you want to exclude certain folders or files, go to the Time Machine system preference, click on the "Options..." button, and you can select files or folders to exclude from backing up. The reason I mention this is because if the other user wants to exclude anything, the exclusion will need to be defined from their account. When this happens, you probably won't see their exclusions from your account and they won't see yours, because neither of you have authority to view each other's files.

    Hope that helps!
     
  5. bryantm3 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2003

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