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.

Badly Damaged Heads

Working inside a broken hard drive today we came across some of the most damaged read / write heads we have ever seen. First, below is an example of how the heads should look. Notice how straight they are at the ends. Then below are the damaged heads. They are at 90 degrees to the discs (tomb stoning) and would have been scraping the inner disc surfaces to pieces. Bad times!

Good Seagate Heads
Good Seagate Heads
Bad Seagate Heads
Bad Seagate Heads

If you ever hear scraping, scratching or screeching noises from your hard drive, turn it off as soon as possible. If left too long, it could scrape all of the magnetic coating off the discs until there’s nothing left to recover.

Data Destruction Discussion On Slashdot

Slashdot had an interesting article today about how to destroy hard drives. It’s a commonly asked question, but deserves a bit of time every once in a while. Of course there are the usual physical destruction options, from the humble hammer and screwdriver, to more exotic (and dangerous) techniques like a propane furnace.

For most purposes we still advise that a simple zeroing of the whole disk is a pretty safe bet. *

Failing that, then as long as you totally destroy the platters, you are good to go. That means taking the disk apart and grinding, bending and scraping the disks to bits.

* During normal use, a hard drive will get occasional bad sectors, which are then mapped out and prevented from being used. When that same sector is requested again, a new spare sector is used from another part of the disk. With the right knowledge, it is possible to access this list of remapped / bad sectors and see if there is any useful data within them. The chances of finding anything useful in these sectors is slim, but you never know.

Read the article on Slashdot

4K Sectors & RAID

ZDNet has an interesting article about 4K sectors (Advanced Format), however what was more interesting was the bit about large SATA drives.

 Today’s large SATA drives shouldn’t be used in 4 drive RAID 5 arrays due to the high likelihood of a read error after a drive failure, which will abort the RAID rebuild.

It is a common misconception that if you run a RAID system then you can avoid keeping backups. Although fault tolerant to a point, there are plenty of issues with RAIDs that can at best cause lengthy downtime and at worst prevent any recovery at all.

More info on RAID Recovery

Hitachi 1TB Platters

The Register reports that Hitachi have beaten Seagate to market with 1TB per platter drives. These will apparently pave the way for 4TB drives, however are currently limited to single platter options up to 1TB. I hope nobody tries to make a RAID 5 with a bunch of 4TB DRIVES. That would be asking for trouble.

Read more on The Register

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.

Dataquest part of Novatech’s New Managed Services

Dataquest’s specialist data recovery services incorporated in Novatech’s bespoke IT & Telecomms hardware solutions. Novatech can now offer their customers the complete worry free IT Solution. In partnership with Novatech, Dataquest will provide their customers with 24/7 Data Recovery support.

Novatech Blog (Dead link removed)

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.