Mac has erased everything (files, preferences) except for apps. Freaking out. HELP!

Discussion in 'macOS' started by greekappi, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. greekappi macrumors member

    Dec 5, 2007
    I was working on my computer at work doing something on photoshop and closed it after I saved some changes and all of a sudden everything on my desktop had disappeared completely except for the two files I just saved in photoshop.

    I decide to restart my computer thinking that would fix the problem. It boots back up and asks me to sign into iCloud. This is very weird since this only happens the first time you set up a computer. I go through the motions and it finally boots up and everything is GONE. ALL of my files on the whole computer are gone. Totally wiped out. My user preferences are totally reset. Icon size, finder window layout, mouse tracking speed, etc. The only thing that remains is all of the applications I had previously installed.

    All the apps are there, NOTHING else is. It's like a completely fresh install of my computer in every way except that my apps are still there. I am freaking out. This happened out of nowhere. Completely out of the blue after Photoshop closed. I first noticed that things had gone horribly wrong when my desktop was completely clean except for those two files I was working on in Photoshop. I searched for the folders thinking they were moved somewhere but couldn't find them anywhere.

    Please someone, I'm desperate. Help me, please.
  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    Do you have a back up with Time machine or Carbon Copy Clone.
  3. greekappi thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 5, 2007
    No, I don't. I'm running 10.8.4 on a 2011 27" iMac if that helps.
  4. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    That sounds suspiciously like a brand new set of user folders has been created. This can occur if the original folders get moved, or renamed.
    Look in /Users folder (one up from your user's home folder).
    How many users are there? Is there one more than there should be?
    Did you have the user Library folder visible in Finder? Or what it hidden, as is default?

    Look at the amount of free space on your disk. Does this look like the right amount, or considerably less? If it looks about normal, then the chance are that you files are there somewhere, just not where you think.

    Try using Spotlight to search for your files.

    One more thing: BACKUP YOUR FILES. Apple makes it very easy with Time Machine. Get external drive, plug it in, turn on TM. You can expect to lose files that are not backed up.
  5. greekappi thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 5, 2007
    Yeah, I looked in the Users folder. There is nothing out of the ordinary there. Just my user profile, shared, and guest. But yes, I agree, it's like someone set up a new user account but with my same name and password.

    The space on the drive is nowhere as full as it used to be. I've looked through Spotlight to find my files, they are nowhere to be found. My free space before this happened was at about 790GB and now it's at 950GB.

    The odd thing is that my downloads folder has two pictures in it that were there before this happened, and my Safari bookmarks are still intact as well. I have no idea what's happened here.

    I guess my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants mentality has finally gotten the better of me. Since I got my first Mac in 2001 (iMac DV) until now, I have never backed anything up nor have I had a hard drive crash or had any problems regarding data loss whatsoever.

    This caught me by surprise big time. Is there anything I can do to retrieve my files and settings? The data must still be there but just has been allocated as free space that can be written over.
  6. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    In fairness, the most likely explanation is that this is something you have done -- rather than some software bug or hardware issue. Errors would not be so precise in targeting all your user files and only your user files.

    The Safari downloads and pictures might be explained by iCloud syncing.

    But the best thing you can do is: Turn off your machine. The more you use it, the more you will lose.
    Get some Disk Recovery software. Data Rescue III is often recommended.
  7. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    [[ Please someone, I'm desperate. Help me, please. ]]

    The solution is easy.

    Just connect your bootable clone backup, and power back up.

    With a cloned backup, you have all your files, right there, in plain old finder format. Just copy one file, several files, a folder, or the entire drive.


    Wait.... you DON'T HAVE a backup?

    Well, my friend, I guess you're learning the hard way -- as I learned, myself, long ago.

    Sorry to be crass, but you have to learn, too. It can take a disaster like this to make one understand...
  8. greekappi thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 5, 2007
    Haha, yeah I got it. And I get it. I tell everyone the importance of back up! The funny thing is, I never care to do it. This isn't because Im' careless, but rather that there is nothing that I really care about losing. This was my office computer and not my home computer with my personal files. And even of those, I only care about my music and photos, both of which I have numerous back ups of.

    I just don't have a time machine like backup drive hooked up. I am mainly just curious about what possibly could have caused this. I don't know if I mentioned but I was transferring a lot of files between my Air and my work iMac shortly before this happened and briefly there appeared to be about 5 or 6 copies of the mounted iMac home folder mounted to my Air desktop while I was transferring the stuff.

    I'm really just curious as to why it happened. I guess I was freaked out at first that I'd lost something important, but really everything we have is backed up on Dropbox. After my initial panic, everything is alright and I don't really care, it's just so weird. Any explanation would be helpful.

    No need to worry about the crassness, I would react the same way. I found it quite humorous actually.
  9. irnchriz macrumors 65816


    May 2, 2005
    Go into users, right click your user folder, select get info, check your permissions, set them to read/write, click the gear icon and choose apply to enclosed items.

    Then reboot

    If that doesn't work, go to system prefs, choose accounts, unlock the padlock if locked, right click your user, choose advanced. Check the path to your user folder. Change it if it is wrong.

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