Mac migration to a previously setup system

So you have a Mac which boots up to a desktop as normal, but without your recovered data. This is not quite ideal, and gives us a few things to sort out before the migration. If you’ve not yet had your data recovered, check our Mac Data Recovery Services.

Arrange.

Migration Assistant
Migration Assistant

You will first have to backup any newly created data. If something goes wrong with migration then you don’t want to lose your new data. If this new system has been created with the same username as the old one, you will not be able to import the old user without renaming which is not advised. After you have backed up your files, you could open “System Preferences / Users & Groups,” (“Accounts” in pre Lion systems) and rename the current user to something else. This will allow you to transfer your original user account and Applications into the correct locations on the new system. If your system is set to automatically login to a user account (ie. doesn’t require a password when you boot) then you will need to turn off “Automatic Login” setting under Users & Groups to allow you to access the old user account.

Fingers crossed you should be ready to migrate.

Connect.

Connect the new hard drive to your Mac. If it’s a desktop 3.5” drive then plug in the power adapter and switch it on. If you are restoring to a laptop then it would be a good idea to have the AC adapter plugged in, as this can take a while.

Migrate.

Go to “Applications / Utilities” and launch “Migration Assistant”. Choose “From another Mac, PC, Time Machine Backup or other disk.” Then choose the second option; “From Time Machine Backup or other disk.” You should see the orange icon for the external drive, labelled with your job number. Click on it and then click continue.

Select.

You can choose to migrate everything, or be a bit selective. You cannot choose individual files to migrate, only whole user accounts, Applications, Settings, and other files. Make your choice and click next.

Wait.

The migration itself can take a while depending how much data you have. Once complete you can boot into the Mac and it will feel very familiar. As if nothing ever failed. If you backed up any files from the new system then now would be a good time to load them back on.

Migration Assistant generally does a good job of transferring your data and software. If any software installs files into the Mac system in unusual locations it may need to be reinstalled, but most Applications like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop will be transferred correctly.

Mac migration to a freshly installed system

If you have a new drive in your Mac with a fresh system, this guide shows you how to get the recovered data back in the right places. We can transfer your whole user account and most Applications into the correct locations on the new system. When you reboot, the Mac will be back how you left it when the hard drive failed. Perfect!

Connect.

Connect the new hard drive to your Mac. If it’s a desktop 3.5” drive then plug in the power adapter and switch it on. The Mac should be off at this point. If you are restoring to a laptop then it would be a good idea to have the AC adapter plugged in, as this could take a while.

Power.

Power on the Mac, and wait for it to load the setup assistant. You will be asked a few questions so answer as necessary.

Migrate.

Choose “Migrate from another disk or Time Machine backup,” and then click next. You should see the orange icon for the external drive, labelled with your job number. Click on it and then click continue.

Select.

You can choose to migrate everything, or be a bit selective. You cannot choose individual files to migrate, only whole user accounts, Applications, Settings, and other files. Make your choice and click next.

Wait.

The migration itself can take a while depending how much data you have. Once complete you can boot into the Mac and it will feel very familiar. As if nothing ever failed.

Setup Assistant generally does a good job of transferring your data and software. Some software installs files into the Mac system in unusual locations & may need to be reinstalled or re-downloaded. Most Applications like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop will be transferred correctly.

Dealing With RAW Data

What is Hard Drive Encrytion

What is RAW data?

Raw Data Recovery 1
Some Raw Word documents

Raw data is what we get when we recover files without their folder and file names. Instead of a My Documents folder, with photos and documents arranged into separate folders, what we get is a folder named JPEG for example, with thousands of consecutively numbered jpg files. The same with office documents, you would get a folder with thousands of doc, xls, docx or xlsx files.

These raw files will be fully usable and contain all the same info that they did originally. You will still be able to open them, edit them and save them, they are just unnamed.

Why is this data in RAW format?

When we recover data, we always prefer to get it back in the original structured form. When data has been deleted from a Mac, or when a hard drive has been reformatted and then partially overwritten, it can be impossible to rebuild all of the data in structured form, as the structure has been overwritten or damaged. This is when we opt for RAW files.

With a RAW recovery, what we are basically doing is searching the whole hard drive for files in known formats. This means we usually get a lot of office documents, jpg images, photoshop psd files and some others. If we need to find an unusual file type then we need a few sample files to be able to generate the correct scan info. RAW recovery is not always possible for every type of file. An example is Apple Garageband project files, which are actually just folders with the name .band on the end. On the mac, these folders are treated as packages, with folders and files inside that you don’t usually see,  (If you right click one and choose ‘Show Package Contents’ you will see what I mean,)  but for the purposes of RAW recovery we cannot get back those files. (We would however get back the RAW AIFF files and recordings from within the projects. It’s not ideal but may be better than nothing.)

What to do with the RAW files

If there is only a small number of files, then you can manually open them all up, see what’s inside and then rename them to something useful. Luckily, for certain file types, there are other ways to make sense of them. It’s called meta data, meta tags or EXIF data.

This meta information is stored inside the files, so even if the file and folder names are lost, we still have the tags.

A brilliant piece of software called Amok EXIF sorter will plough through thousands of jpg files, read their date tags and then place them in dated folders. It can also do other fancy things with tags, but default setting will create a decent structure.

For music, iTunes or any other music manager will usually rename the files in the library based on the artist and album tags. In iTunes, just make sure it is set to: ‘Keep iTunes media folder organised.’

Document files such as doc, docx, xls and xlsx also have some useful tags that we can use to make sense of the masses of numbered files.

Raw Data Recovery
Raw File Tags

In Windows, set the View to ‘Details’ and you should see a series of headings such as Name, Date Modified, Type, and Size. Date modified will show the date that the files were recovered so is useless for this task, however if you right click on this heading you will see other available columns, with ticks beside a few of them. The ‘More…‘ option at the bottom contains loads of tags that we can use to sort the data.

Good headings for office documents are Author and Date last saved. You can experiment and see if any of the other tags are more useful to your specific data.

Good headings for jpg files are Date taken (Date picture taken) and Camera model. Again, there are others which may be useful.

Raw Data Recovery
Raw Files Showing Author Tag

Apple iMac 1TB Seagate Hard Drive Replacement Program

We at Dataquest have been aware of the problem with 1TB Seagate drives for some time. It is pleasing to see that Apple are also recognising the problem and are offering their customers a free swap out. These drives are mainly seen in iMacs, but you may also get them in the Mac Pro so make sure your back ups are up to date.

Mac Hard Drive Quick Diagnosis Fail Guide

For Mac users who cannot get their Mac to boot, this is a quick guide to find out the level of the problem with your internal hard drive. If on start up you get to the Apple logo and beyond, then this means that your Mac can read the internal hard drive. For this to happen the drive will have carried out it’s own start up process when you pressed your mac power on button. This therefore tells you that your drive is functional to a point, but has some reading problems.

If however on start up your Mac shows a folder with a question mark, then this means that your Mac cannot read the drive at all. Therefore your drive may have a more serious problem.

Backup Your Windows PC For Free

It’s something we should all be doing but never seems important until it’s too late. I’m not talking about taking the dog for a walk or feeding the cat, I’m talking about backing up your PC. In the words of Joni Mitchell “You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.” How would you feel if you never saw your data again. Family photos, years worth of e-mails, documents, music and videos all gone in the blink of an eye. This is usually where we come in with our data recovery process. But there is an alternative. Lifehacker has an excellent guide on using free software to backup your PC. The only prerequisite is that you purchase an external hard disk of sufficient storage capacity.

For Mac users there is a totally different process. If you are running Leopard (10.5) then take a look at Time Machine. (More on this in a future post)

Checkout Lifehacker for all the details