MB Pro HD Failure: Time Machine Backup-->PC?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by nefariousn8, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. nefariousn8 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #1
    Thanks so much in advance.

    I am a student just going into finals. It appears that the HD on my Macbook Pro just failed. Gave it to the bookstore to fix under Apple Care. They are backed up, and can't work on it until next week. Then 3 days for parts...I have two ten page papers to write!!

    I thought myself clever for using Time Machine for regular backups, so theoretically I have all the data that would otherwise have been lost. The problem is that in the interim I only have an old Dell PC notebook to use.

    Can I at least retrieve selected research data from my Time Machine backup to import to Windows? The backup drive is USB 2.0, but I'm guessing formatted HFS to work with Mac. Is there a program I can used to read it to get my PDFs?

    Help, I'm freaking out!

    Thanks again,
    Nate
     
  2. BobZune macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
    USA
    #2
    You have encountered a condition where a bootable clone beats Time Machine backup.

    You can try MacDrive to read the HFS+ formatted TM partition (HFSexplorer is another possibility).

    If you have problems mounting the drive in XP, it will likely be because of the partition table on the TM disk. If it is GUID (also known as GPT) which it most likely is, try GPTmounter. If it is Apple Partition Map (APM), then borrowing a friend's Mac for browsing and copying the files would be the easiest solution.
     
  3. nefariousn8 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #3
    Unable to find files within Time Machine

    Thanks for the help BobZune. I got MacDrive 7. It seems to work fine in terms of exploring the drive. I had my external backup drive partitioned into two sections, one as just a "manual backup" where I could swap files in and out like one might do on a USB stick, and the rest of the drive partitioned for Time Machine.

    The information that I want to get at lies in the Time Machine partition. When I explore that partition, however, I just see a bunch of zero KB directories and not actual Word documents, PDFs, etc. I'm guessing Time Machine employs some proprietary way of burying all of the actual files in this special tree.

    Anyone know how I might navigate this structure and actually pull things out?
     
  4. gr8tfly macrumors 603

    gr8tfly

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2006
    Location:
    ~119W 34N
    #4
    The files themselves are hardlink files, which are standard UNIX. What Apple added in 10.5 was hardlinked directories. I don't know of any app in Windows that can deal with them.

    You might be able to do it if you can search by content, but that could take a looooong time, depending on how many unique backups you have - each backup contains at least the link to all files on your hard drive, plus the actual file which changed. Another option could be searching by size, but if the file very small, i.e. the same size as a link file, that won't be much use.

    edit +1 for BobZune's comment on having an image backup - this would give you direct access to your file, and is bootable. Hard drives are too inexpensive these days to not have both (under the "you can't have enough backups" rule)
     
  5. BobZune macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
    USA
    #5
    gr8tfly's hints should help searching, but slowly as mentioned. Roughly, the TM file organization is - top lelvel - Backups.backupdb folder, inside is a folder with the name of your Mac, then directories with data+time names, then directory with the Mac HardDrive name and on down further, with hardlinks.

    I am not sure how MacDrive7 will handle this - but you can try copying the whole TM partition data (folder structure) on to a windowsxp directory (if your Dell has enough diskspace) or a windows (FAT32/NTFS) formated hard drive, and then use the winXP search tools to search for your files. If there is lack of space in WinXP, you can copy parts and search, but this can hard quick. [In OS X, if you stored everything in Documents folder under your username, it might make things a bit easier].

    It is much easier if you can borrow a Leopard Mac (or take it to the Apple store and can use one of their's) to browse the TM and copy the files you need into a USB drive. You won't have to worry about links-vs-files if you copy that way, since OS X (unix) should take care of that.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.
     
  6. nefariousn8 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #6
    This situation would be kind of funny if there weren't a deadlines issue. I thought I was so clever to have set up Time Machine with an external drive, but didn't take into account what the heck I would do with this particular backup format in the event they had taken away my macbook to work on it.

    I would have been golden if my backup laptop was a mac, but given I'm a recent switcher and it's a pc I'm sort of dead in the water. Live and learn, I guess.

    I was going the gee whiz tech-clever route of trying to rescue the data via my PC because none of my close friends have macs, but it now occurs to me I could just go into the university bookstore and have them let me plug in my external drive to a display mac and pick out the stuff while standing there, as you say BobZune.

    This Apple-certified bookstore quoted me a turnaround of "finding out" what's wrong by the 6th (brought it in 29th). Then "three days for parts." Would an actual Apple store have that kind of turnaround? I'd have to drive 2 hours to Sacramento.

    Thank god it's still covered under Applecare.
     
  7. BobZune macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
    USA
    #7
    Try the university bookstore solution (using their Mac to recover data) as for an immediate workaround.

    I'd suggest calling the Apple retail store closest to you and explain your time pressure situation. IF it is only the hard drive replacement and not something more complex, and they have one available (since it is a common part, it is very likely they have one in stock), they can replace it fairly quickly (about 30 minutes). From what I understand by forum posts by ex-Apple store employees, they can do this kind of replacement in the store, but still usually take 2-3 days due to workload and backlogs, but have been known to do it much quicker -- so a friendly conversation and an appointment would be worth it.
     

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