How to protect private data when sending in Imac for repair?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by redryder, Mar 7, 2010.

  1. redryder macrumors member

    Mar 7, 2010
    Hi all. I've been a PC user for 20 years, but thinking of switching to an Imac. My main concern before plunging in is with regards to data protection - particularly if I have to send the Imac in for repair. On my PC, I can control what part I want to replace, and I never send a harddrive in for repair. I'm paranoid about data privacy.

    But if I buy an Imac, removing the harddrive violates the warranty. And if my Imac refuses to bootup, I can't wipe the drive before sending in for repair. Will the apple repair center be willing to remove the harddrive and return it to me before starting repair?
  2. Sambo110 macrumors 68000

    Mar 12, 2007
    What could you possible have on that Apple employees could use? And for that matter, what makes you think they would go through your computer looking at your files.
  3. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    You can have two administrator accounts. Have one on the side which you never use which is there in case the computer needs to be sent in. Then have your main account with file vault enabled so all of your data is encrypted.
  4. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    Have a complete backup at all times is my best advice of course. When you have to send the Mac in for repair if you are worried about it create a secondary account as mentioned and use that as the default login. If you are REALLY paranoid you can wipe the HD and send it in then restore from a backup when you get it back.

    Obviously, if the HD is not accessible this will not be an option and no, Apple will not send the damaged HD back to you if it is replaced. They always make it very clear to fully back up your data prior to sending a Mac in for repairs because there is never a guarantee that you will get the same HD back or that the data will be intact if you do.
  5. Bacong macrumors 68020


    Mar 7, 2009
    Westland, Michigan
    Get a mac mini -- cheaper and easier to modify, and replacing the HDD doesn't void the warranty.
  6. Disc Golfer macrumors 6502a

    Dec 17, 2009
    Homemade porn.
    In another life I worked at an apple authorzed service shop and the guys in back were pretty consistent about going through drives for porn and music collections. The itunes library at that place was unbelievable.

    Replacing the imac harddrive really voids the warranty? Thats pretty whack.
  7. saoir macrumors member

    Dec 8, 2007
    If anyone has a few photos of their children and they happen to be in swim suits or naked -- like mine of my 4 year old in the bath having fun ---- they are in serious danger of getting prosecuted. Look at the precedents in the US and UK.
  8. redryder thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 7, 2010
    I'm not that familiar with OSX, so please bear with me. Lets say I set up two admin accounts (PRIVATE and OPEN), and all my private data is stored on the PRIVATE account. If I only give the OPEN account password to the apple techs, will they be able to access my data in the PRIVATE account?

    How does filevault work? Do I have to type in a password everytime I want to access my own data? Or is the password tied to the account login (meaning only entered once per login)?
  9. redryder thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 7, 2010
    Some jobs have confidentiality requirements that by law I am required to uphold - e.g. medical files, legal files, tax records.
  10. Eldiablojoe macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2009
    West Koast
    Pics from trips to Thailand and Rio, surveillance logs of illegally attached GPS used to stalk movie stars, and evidence of anonymous threatening letters sent to politicians.

    Things I don't want the Apple computer geeks seeing on a HD.

    Just kidding, I know there are legitimate things one wishes to keep private.
  11. Gator24765 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 13, 2009
    wouldnt you think if they really wanted to look at files in your computer they would know how to get in it?
  12. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

    May 29, 2007
    Is that a joke, or are you really that naive?

    I cannot give Apple or anyone else my computer for repair without wiping or removing the drive first.
  13. pcman2000 macrumors newbie

    Feb 21, 2010
  14. crackpip macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2002
    There's a few things you can do.

    I keep my administrator account separate from my user account. Then the administrator account is basically empty.

    1) Already mentioned, use Filevault for your user accounts. This is the built-in encryption solution, and when combined with the above, means they cannot access your home directory without trying to brute-force open the encrypted disk image. Using Filevault prevents you from using TimeMachine to its fullest extent, though.

    2) Have your user accounts (except the admin) and all sensitive files on an external drive. This may be a waste of space on your internal drive, and external drives will be slower.

    3) Before sending the machine in, use Carbon Copy Cloner to make a backup of your internal drive. Then wipe the internal drive and install a clean system. You can zero the drive or use 7- or 13-pass wipe if you're worried about the CIA getting ahold of your stuff, and having a clean system can help the troubleshooting process. When you get the machine back, you simply restore the backup, and your good to go. It's more time consuming than the other two, but it's worked for me.

  15. saoir macrumors member

    Dec 8, 2007
    Confidentiality Agreements can't be invoked where something is believed to be illegal afaik.
  16. techound1 macrumors 68000


    Mar 3, 2006
    Yes. In fact, your boot disc contains a utility that lets you reset a password on any account.

    And on your other q, file vault is not terribly compatible with time machine, so it's a bugger to always have FV on and try to run TM backups.
  17. wackymacky macrumors 68000


    Sep 20, 2007
    38°39′20″N 27°13′10″W
    Gee... you really trust some tech person at the workshop?

    I'm sure when they are board they have nothing better to do that to look for titillating stuff on people's computer.

    I'm sure there would a business in steeling password, credit card no's etc from hard-drive on computers in for repair.

    Then surely you need to follow the data protection requirements of these firms?

    Why you need to protect your whole drive and not just the individual files which can easily be encrypted?

    If you have these sort of files on your personal/home computer wouldn’t it be a requirement that are held in a secure form anyhow?
  18. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

    May 29, 2007
    I'm required to protect my entire drive. Doesn't matter that I also encrypt the sensitive files. If the drive is at all compromised it's considered a breach and I have to report it.
  19. redryder thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 7, 2010
    Let me get this straight - if I have an empty admin account and a private account, it is simple for someone to access my private account. All they need to do is to reset the password with a bootdisc?

    BUT if I use filevault on the private account, then they can't access it. Is that correct?

    I’m still a little confused – is the filevault password the same as the account login password? Does Filevault prevent the account login password from being reset by the bootdisc?
  20. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    get an external hdd

    back up (use carbon copy cloner)

    wipe imac drive

    send to apple

    when get back, restore backup

    not hard
  21. redryder thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 7, 2010

    Well, just last month my PC refused to bootup and I could not figure out the problem. That kinda was the last straw that got me thinking about switching to Apple.

    Then, I realised that if an Imac refused to boot up, I would not be able to wipe the drive before sending it in. Opening up the Imac to remove the drive violates Apple warranty.

    That's the whole point of my thread. What can I do to protect my data in the event that I can't wipe the drive before sending for repair?
  22. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    ah I see. For this reason, the imac needs a user replaceable hdd

    when my mb hdd died on me within warranty, i DID NOT chance sending it back as there was data on it

    Id rather eat the cost of a new hdd than be a victim of id theft

    for all that say dont worry about that, well no one is a saint so why put yourself at risk like that
  23. saoir macrumors member

    Dec 8, 2007
    Keep all your data on an external drive. I do this.

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