Time Machine deleted all files on external HD

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by matsta73, Oct 29, 2015.

  1. matsta73 macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2015

    Without realising it, when I decided to use my Lacie rugged external HD to back up with Time Machine, it deleted all my existing files.

    Does anyone know how I can retrieve my lost files, I have lost thousands of music files!!!

    Thank you to anyone who can put me in the right direction :)
  2. barryhill macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2015
    A couple of thoughts. And sorry this has happened for you, must be very stressful and difficult.

    On hard discs, nothing is every 'erased' completely until the disk is full up and there is no more room, then the backup process will start to copy over the actual space occupied by old files, and they will be lost.

    Unless your external disc is very full up, then if you are just backing up files over to it, then the chances are your old files will still be there, but with their file names changed so they don't appear in directory listings. That makes their space 'available' if needed. It is only needed when there isn't actually any 'free' space left on the hard drive.

    There is software you can get which can retrieve these 'renamed' files and get them back for you. If you google 'recover deleted files' you will find a lot of information about software and processes which can do this. http://is.gd/KaPVP7

    Unfortunatelly, if you used Time Machine, the chances re it reformatted your hard drive. It depends on the kind of formatting it did as to whether you can get your data back? You can find out more about this here: http://is.gd/6juYrr

    There is a strange 'law' which says that until disaster strikes, then people assume disaster is only something that happens to someone else! Another 'law' states that unless your data exists in 3 different places, then it isn't truly secure. ie, the original copy, a backup copy, and another backup copy. Sounds over the top, until something terrible happens, then it seems common sense.

    I hope you manage to recover the files ok. You might want to try one of the many 'data recovery' services, which can get data back off even hard discs that have been incinerated in fires ...

  3. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    You can try a third party file recovery utility like Disk Warrior, but it is not cheap and if the file areas were already overwritten by the Time Machine backup, the odds of recovery are not good.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I've never once used Time Machine, not ever, so I'm not sure how it works. That is to say, whether it will re-initialize a volume first, after "taking it over".

    If TM -does- initialize the drive when it begins, it may have over-written the music files (some of them or all of them) that were on the drive.

    As a general rule, when files are over-written and replaced with newer files, the old files are NOT recoverable even with data-recovery software.

    It seems to me that if TM -DOES NOT- re-initialize at startup, that the files may still be there, but not visible.

    What happens if you turn TM off, and then look at the drive in the finder...?
  5. matsta73 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2015
    Thanks for the reply and information Barry, I will look into what you have told me :)
  6. matsta73 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2015
    I have just sent the external HD to a person who might be able to recover the files for me... Will keep you all posted.

    Thank you for your replies :)
  7. Larua macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2017
    HEllo matsta, what was the end of your story. I have the very sam problem now :'(

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