Installed Sierra. Lost all old files. Please help!

Discussion in 'macOS Sierra (10.12)' started by funkyc, Nov 13, 2016.

  1. funkyc macrumors regular


    Sep 20, 2008
    Dear all,

    I was prompted to update my laptop to Sierra and so I did. I followed all the prompts and when I saw click agree click yes blah blah of course I just clicked everything without actually reading any of that stuff as usual. The install did everything over the air and as it was late at night I just let it do its thing and went to bed. When I woke up in the morning I had a brand spanking new MacOS Sierra install on my computer. So far so good.

    Then with horror I realised that I had lost all my old files. My thousands of emails from mail, my old iPhone backups with my tens of thousands of photos etc. IT WAS A BRAND SPANKING NEW MACOS INSTALL WITH NONE OF MY OLD FILES!! Herein lies the problem as I was actually expecting Sierra to install over my old OS without removing everything like old macos installs did but instead I got a clean install.

    Now with some poking around I believe that MACOS is smart and it hasn't actually deleted my old files but they're all still there in the background as I realise that the existing space on my hdd is very small. I have a 500gb hdd and only 50gb remaining space so I'm guessing my files are all still there somewhere. I also see that there is a new user so I'm hoping all my old files are in the old user somewhere. I've clicked into it but I can't see anything. I know there are hidden files and stuff but I don't know how to find them and back them up or view them or anything.

    Can someone please help me in the simplest of ways tell me how I can.

    1) Find and backup my old iphone backups. I don't care about anything else except my photos. I still have my most recent ones on my iphone but a few months back I backuped everything onto my computer then I clean installed my iphone so hopefully all my old photos are on a backup file somewhere. Are there any apps or programs that can find old photos from backups and back them up? Paid apps, free apps, any sort of apps as long as they work?

    2) If possible backup my old work emails from the backup somewhere and into my new mail. Because I don't save on my mail server just on my computer so basically now I've lost all my old emails. I would love to get these back but if I can't then just the photos will do.

    3) I have a NAS that I want to backup my computer from now on so that this never happens again. How do I do this? I only know the old fashioned way of clicking on everything and dragging it over to save everything but is there a smarter way?

    Thank you so very much if someone can help me with any of this. I don't mind paying for programs, apps etc to do any of the above as long as they definitely work for what I'm trying to do. THANKS!!
  2. elf69 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2016
    Cornwall UK
    photos I use Stella photo recovery, free will show you what it can recover then pay to recover.
    one off fee then the app is yours I use it a lot to recover friends SD cards, HDD etc.

    Not sure about rest of your data sorry, Im a mac newbie only 6 months with a mac.
  3. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    What user are you logged in as now? What user did you used to log in as? Did it just end up having you log in as a new user, perhaps under your appleID?

    Under System Preferences --> Users and Groups what do you see?
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    No offense, but your problems illustrate why one should practice something called "backing up your data" BEFORE one does a system software upgrade...
  5. funkyc thread starter macrumors regular


    Sep 20, 2008
    Thanks elf69 I'll look into Stella photo recovery

    Hi zhenya, in System Preferences --> Users and Groups I only see the user that I'm logged in as now and also guest user. However when I poke around in Finder and go up a few levels there are other User folders and they have system files in them. This is why I'm hoping my old files are somewhere in there.

    Thanks Fishrrman I usually do backup everything but have been slack last few months. My last backup onto my NAS was over 6 months ago. I'm trying to recover files from after that last backup. I've been using Macs for ten years now I've never had this problem - well I usually backup but I've been uber busy lately. Every time the OSX installs over the old one and files are still kept but this time it was a fresh install.

    Thanks all for your help so far!
  6. stooovie macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2010
    I don't understand, you keep your photos in iPhone backups? You don't actually import them onto the Mac? Why?

    Also, if you can remember some of the filenames, you could try searching for them with a tool like EasyFind. Spotlight search may be too smart for its own good, but EasyFind brute-forces the search and is super reliable.

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