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How to recover files from Mac OS X?

Posted on 2014-12-26
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Last Modified: 2015-01-13
My cousin tried updating from 10.9 to 10.10 and it keeps looping through the installation. When I run a Disk Repair it says the disk cannot be repaired. I can mount the disk in Ubuntu 14.10 LIVE but I cannot get permissions to access the files any further; I'm not the owner. I am unable to figure out how to mount the drive with the ability to edit the contents. (HFS+ filesystem)

I have the MacBook Pro and a USB hard drive that are both in the HFS+ filesystem. I desperately need to recover the files from the Mac onto the USB hard drive before proceeding with troubleshooting the internal hard drive of the Mac.

Please advise.
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Question by:ITworks
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by:strung
ID: 40518736
Restart the Mac while holding down command-R.
If the external USB drive is larger than the contents of the internal drive, you can restore the internal drive to the external following the instructions here (this will erase anything that is on the external drive):

http://nyacomputing.com/how-to-create-a-bootable-clone-of-your-mac-hard-drive/

Once you have cloned the internal drive to the external, reboot while holding down the Option key. This will bring up the boot picker. Choose the external drive (It will have an USB icon) and hit the forward arrow.

It should then boot from the external, but it will be much slower than booting from the internal.

Once you are booted, it is not a bad idea to rename the drive from "MacIntosh HD" to, say "USB HD" so you don't get the two disks confused.

Once you have booted from the external and are satisfied that everything is there, use disk utility to reformat the internal drive, and name it as MacIntosh HD.

After the internal drive has been reformatted, reboot into the Recovery Partition by holding down the R key and follow the steps in the link above to clone the USB drive back to the internal drive.

Once that is done, reboot normally and eject the external drive.
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by:ITworks
ID: 40518753
My wife is at the store. She's getting me another USB HDD (I don't want to erase the current one). I'll keep you posted. Thanks so much for the suggestion!
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by:strung
ID: 40518757
The new drive will come formatted in PC format, so you will first have to use Disk Utility to reformat it as Apple Extended Format (Journalled).
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by:ITworks
ID: 40518863
I received an error:

Recovery Failure
Recovery partition restores can only be done on GPT partition maps.
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by:ITworks
ID: 40518868
Alright, I reconfigured the partition by going into the Options and choosing the GUID Partition Table. Now I have a new error when trying to clone the drive.

Restore Failure
An error (32) occurred while copying. (Broken pipe)
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 40518872
Go back into Disk Utility to format the new drive.
Choose Apple Extended Format (Journalled).
Then click on the Partition Tab.
Choose "One Partition".
Then click on the Options button and select "GUID Partition Scheme".
Then click OK to format the external disk as GUID.
Once that is done you should be able to restore.
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by:strung
ID: 40518873
Above was a response to your earlier post, not the broken pipe message. Back to you shortly on that.
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by:strung
ID: 40518892
Did you use the same copy of Disk Utility to format the new drive as you are using to try to restore?
Do you get the broken pipe error immediately when you try to restore?
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by:ITworks
ID: 40518895
Yes, same copy of Disk Utility from the Restore (CMD + R) Boot. The error is within 30 seconds. I then changed it to 2 partitions on the USB drive and was given a different error message. It's like it simply doesn't want to allow me to copy the contents of the drive.

Back to trying to figure out how to access the stuff from Ubuntu Live and I can't copy the Pictures or Documents folders because I don't have permission to access them. SO FRUSTRATING
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Accepted Solution

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strung earned 500 total points
ID: 40518902
Here is an alternative procedure that might work.

Instead of trying to restore the internal drive to the external, boot from the recovery partition and install a fresh operating system on the external drive.

When you do so, at some point it will ask you for a user name and make sure you use a different user name than you used on the internal drive.

Then reboot while holding down the Option key and select the external drive and log in under the new username.

In Finder, go to Finder Preference and tick all the boxes under General and under Sidebar.

Then open a finder window and right-click on "Macintosh HD" and choose "rename". Rename it to "USB HD" so you won't get confused later as to which disk is the external and which is the internal.

While booted from the external drive, find Migration Assistant in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder.

Double-click on Migration Assistant and follow the instructions to migrate Apps, Settings and Data from the Internal drive to the External drive.

This may take a few hours.

Once Migration assistant has completed, you should find that you now have two users, one in your new name and one in the old. Log out of the new name into the old name and your disk should appear exactly the same as when you are booted from the hard drive.

Once you are satisfied that the external is a good copy of the internal, you can erase the internal, install a new system on the internal and follow the procedure above in reverse to use migration assistant to copy back from the external to the internal.

Once all that is done, you can delete the new user and continue using the old.
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by:strung
ID: 40518909
Don't forget to repartition as one partition before you start.
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by:ITworks
ID: 40519047
Installing onto the USB drive worked. Now I'm just waiting on the data transfer. Will keep you posted. Thanks for all of the help so far, Strung!
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 40520071
Any luck?
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Author Closing Comment

by:ITworks
ID: 40546557
This worked perfectly!
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