On Sunday December 10th, after I had backed up about half of the 250GB internal drive on the iMac, things went wrong.
I’m not sure what exactly finally brought the drive to its knees, but some sectors were problematic as far back as January 2006 when I first tried to get serious about backups. (And failed.)
I left things alone for the rest of the (very busy) year, but I know that there are only two kinds of people: those who have already lost data, and those who will. Only those who backup their data handle the loss well, whenever it happens. My recent mishap with my contacts probably overcame my inertia. That, and I’ve wanted to upgrade the iMac to Tiger for quite some time.
So, I fired up SuperDuper and got, well, a lot farther than 11 months earlier. All the videos, music, and photos were backed up to the external drive before things got stuck. This was the bulky data, which turned out to be very useful.
The SuperDuper log was clear that the application failed while trying to copy an IMAP archive, so I tried to clear up Mail.app’s older files, especially the mailbox in question. The file was simply a coincidence, but somewhere in the sequence of restarting (repeatedly), I ended up with the flashing folder icon. No system folder found. Argh!
The only “good” news was that I could still start the computer up in FireWire target disk mode. The bad news? The disk was unrecognizable, and I was being asked if I wanted to reformat it. I declined, and got ready to start the week, considering my options for data recovery and more.
That was Sunday evening, and it was not a great end to the weekend.
NOTE: SuperDuper was not a contributor to this sequence of events; just an ironic, unfortunate coincidence that the drive died while I was trying to (ahem) back it up.
Monday morning, I spoke with my friend Sean, and got the best tip: DiskWarrior. Fortunately, version 4.0 which works with Intel Macs was just released, so I could run the software on my work laptop while tackling the problematic G5.
Short answer: DiskWarrior was a data saver… and savior.
While I could not rebuild the drive, I could get all the data off, with the exception of the borked (technical term? should be!) System folder. Various items were “Rescued” but I’m uncertain I need them since the end goal was an upgrade to the System anyway. The data was spread across my work MacBook and a thumb drive. Fortunately, we never got a change to fill up this 250GB drive (well, 233GB formatted), or I would have been doing even more juggling.
Monday night, then, ended in a much better place. The wife had her data, and I knew that the whole process was doable. And I relaxed for a few days, doing sporadic research on internal hard drives and the process of replacing them. I scheduled a stop by the Genius Bar at the San Francisco Apple Store, just to ask a few questions.
- How long would it take for them to do the replacement? Answer: 10 business days. Ouch.
- How expensive would it be? Answer: $350. Hmmm…
- How hard is it to do this myself? Answer: Not so bad. They suggested going online and taking a look around, but since (a) the computer was already out of warranty and (b) I’d opened it up before (RAM install, and other mucking about) I was a good candidate to do it myself.
With a busy weekend and a general retail phobia during the pre-Christmas weekends, I didn’t buy a new drive until yesterday, at CompUSA. I paid more than I would have online, but I had it in my hands, and last night I installed the drive while watching the Colts demolish the Bengals on Monday Night Football.
Installing Tiger was simple from there, and I called it a night.
I still have lots of work to do, re-installing applications and re-connecting the applications with the recovered data. But I expect the applications, at least, to be completed tonight. I’m typing this while Software Update catches up.
And, yes, when I’m all done with the whole enchilida… I’ll be backing up. Wish me luck!