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Apple Desktops Discussion of Apple's desktop machines including Mac Pro, iMac, Power Mac, and mini

Apple Imac wont restore from Time Machine backup after HD recall replacement


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Cinful

 
Member Since: May 23, 2012
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I have an imac bought in 2011, running Snow Leopard. It required an HD replacement due to the 1 TB Seagate recall - the replacement was done by a certified Apple repair station yesterday. Before the guy left he started a backup/restore from my latest time machine backup set. It failed. I attempted it two times and got error messages that it failed and the computer needed to be restarted to try it again. No luck. I called the guy back and he told me to call Apple Care. Not thrilled about that response since the guy had just left my house I did what he told me to do.

(A quick sideline here: I recognize that a time machine backup should be no big deal and SHOULD work everytime, but it doesn't. It irks me that Apple is replacing my HD through no fault of mine and yet they don't allow the restore of data to be a "covered" expense in this process - this isn't just because this was an authorized repair guy - the Apple store would have done the same).


Back to the issue. When I called apple care they pretty much had me try the same thing again with an earlier back up set. To my knowledge, it didn't work. I say this because it looked like it was working and when I came back to the imac later, it had restarted and once again booted to the OSX install. (The boot disc is still in the imac). When I tried to boot from another location, one did not show up to boot from so I assumed that the data didn't transfer and it forced another restart.

So, I tried something else. I tried to re-install the snow leopard OSX without using the restore function. That appeared to work and then when the machine restarted it asked if I had another mac and I chose the option to get the files/apps/etc. from my time machine backup.

The computer chose what I can only assume is the most recent backup set (It chose what I know to be a subfolder that appears under the dated backup folder - Macintosh HD--which btw is confusing seeing as that's always the name of the HD on the imac). I again stepped away from the computer so it could do its thing for two hours. When I returned, I was back to the MAC OSX screen that asks you to choose a language. There were no more options to choose DISK UTILITY or RESTORE FROM BACKUP, etc. When I clicked on English it took me right back into the screen where you say whether you have another Apple that you want to transfer data from. I realized that the imac must have restarted and I assumed maybe it was because the boot disk was still in - except how do you get the disc to eject?

I also initially assumed that the backup had somehow failed again and triggered a restart. I tried to choose the option to just set up the machine without transferring data and when I got to the choose a name for your HOME folder message I tried to enter the same name I had it as before and it wouldn't allow me to do so, saying that that name was already in use.

I also tried a different name and that didn't work either - got the same message (I assume if it is not the same name that it won't sync up with the time machine data from the backup set). So, I almost tried the "select time machine backup" option again until I looked at my HD space. Clearly, there is space that has been used. HD space was 997 at the start and now it's 636.

My initial thought is to somehow get back into the setup area where I can use disc utility and erase the whole thing and then start over but 1) I don't think it's going to work even if I could get back there 2) I have no idea how to get this thing to reboot into that mode 3) I can't get the boot CD out to even try to restart to see if this thing did what it was supposed to, SO NOW I AM TOTALLY STUCK!

I have not called Apple Care back because quite frankly they were useless the first time. I have a call into the repair guy but who knows how much help he will be. In the mean time, I have a million things to do and a computer that isn't working - Whoever said Apples never have issues needs to be seriously censored!

A few other notes: I use Time Machine Editor to run my backups weekly. It was set up that way from the get go by an Apple rep who came to my house to get us up and running. Editor should not effect the way that time machine does its work, so I doubt there is relevance but thought it worth mentioning.

One other note is that the Apple Care agent tried to have me do something called a "Source" something or other from the disk utility screen but when she realized that my backup file (shown by date) contained many other sub files (11-27-12/MacintoshHD/MyNamesIMAC/etc.), it was not possible to run this operation - thus we aborted. Sorry I don't remember the name of the process and unfortunately now can't access that option to go find it.

If you can help me, I would be eternally grateful! I am open to having a phone conversation if you are willing to give me your email to mail you my number. I have so much work to do this week and this was the last thing I needed. Did I mention this was supposed to be EASY?
I used to be quite the geek with my PC - still on the learning curve with the mac but not enjoying it. I am fairly tech savvy and I can follow instructions for a step by step solution if you've got one.
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mrplow

 
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Quick note - a few more carriages returns would be nice next time. In my experience it makes it more appealing/easier to read and more likely to get responses.

OK. Sorry you're having issues and I know how frustrating it all is (I've just been through the recall process - but that's another story)
Got to point out though;
a) you didn't have to have the work done
b) Apple left you with a machine with just the OS installed as it was originally. No company I know will do repairs and restore your data. This should have been made clear to you before agreeing to the work.
Negative bit over.

To eject a DVD hold the left mouse button down and start your Mac. A wired mouse will work better for this if you have one. But it will work wirelessly so long as you 'wake' your mouse first.
Or just hold Option down to get the boot selection and install Snow Leopard.

Run through the setup, do not choose the restore option. You can pick any disk/home folder name, same/different doesn't really matter.

Now connect your Time Machine drive.

I suspect the root of the issue here is a bad/failing disk or enclosure. I.e. I think your backup is faulty.

However, all may not be lost. Open Disk Utility and run repair disk on the TM disk.

Now there are two options as I see it.
1. Run Migration Assistant. Select just part of the data e.g. just your Music, just your docs, just your apps etc. Rather than trying a full restore. Try it piece meal. If one works do it again for another etc. This will help identify the point of failure and hopefully get back most if not all of your data.
2. (if 1 doesn't work at all) Run the Time Machine application and try to manually restore your data bit by bit

External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - top right of this post
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Cinful

 
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Thank you for your fast response and your advice on writing the thread. I will try some of the options you mentioned. Your suggestions are helpful and I very much appreciate them. Thank you for you knowledge.

The editorial comments ("got to point out") at the start of your reply were unnecessary and not entirely accurate...

To set the record straight, I did have to get the work done because I didn't want my HD to crash unexpectedly because it was designated faulty by apple/seagate--and I am not an apple expert so I didn't think doing it myself was a great option.

I wasn't expecting for the back up to be covered (and yes, they told me it would not be unless I wanted to pay more); I simply said it would have been nice if it was covered since I am having issues and it wasn't my fault the HD got recalled in the first place. They basically say, "Here's your new HD, now you're on your own." It would be nice if service still meant something.

I'll report back once I know more.

Is it possible that if my internal imac HD was faulty that it may have corrupted the backups going to the back up drive?
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mrplow

 
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No intention to offend. I've been around the building, repair, maintenance and use of PCs for 25+ years, 5 for Mac. I just know that managing expectation of a customers service/repair can circumvent many issues. I'm sorry you felt poorly served in this instance and I didn't mean to cause further consternation.

To answer your question; yes, it's entirely possible the now replaced drive was faulty. But equally it could be the drive that was backed up to. Unless you find a definite error on your TM drive now there's no way to be sure at this point. Hopefully, however, the post above will help recover a significant portion of your data.

It's a hindsight comment now and hopefully not further unnecessary editorial but for future OS rebuilds of any kind I'd strongly suggest a secondary backup in application independent format. I.e. copying important data to a cloud service or manually copying to an external disk etc. Something that doesn't need a bespoke tool like Time Machine to access.

External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - top right of this post
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Cinful

 
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Your comments make sense. No offense taken. Thanks. I hope this will resolve things. I Will let you know. I am considering a cloud alternative (Carbonite) for future backups if I find it can be used in conjunction with Time Machine. I am tired of stressing over backups!
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Cinful

 
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Okay so here's where things stand. Hope you are still online. Got the machine to reboot with disk so I could get back to disk utility. Back Up HD is fine. No repairs needed. Newly installed HD also fine. No repairs needed

I am convinced that the data migrated because of the change in HD space - it's equal to the amount of data in the backup set. I think this occurred when I finally just installed Snow Leopard on it's own.

What I can't get past now is the blasted SETUP stuff. I'm in an endless loop.

So, when the machine restarts (from the HD not the boot disk), it now wants to walk me through the SETUP of Snow Leopard (AGAIN). However I have clearly already done this because that is when I chose the option to have it migrate info from my Time Machine backup set to the new install. I guess that's the SETUP version of Migration Assistant?

So now what? I think the data is there and yet it wants me to do it again? Or, I can choose to SETUP without migrating data BUT that's when it won't allow me to create a folder with the same name as the one from the backup set? It also wouldn't let me create a folder with a different name - says one already exists.

When I do a restart I get more of the same. It's like it is stuck wanting me to do something I have already done. What am I missing?!?!

Thanks!
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I agree it's likely to have copied some data over but I suspect it failed before completing, hence the setup assistant loop.

You could try an archive & install from the Snow Leopard disk but my instinct is a clean install and then restoring as per step 1 in my post above

External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - top right of this post
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techiesteve

 
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If your data was important to you I would have asked the tech who replaced the drive to delay returning the old drive to Apple and to clone it to the new drive. As data transfer isn't part of the program, and it's extremely hard to get an exception from Apple to cover it, he would have charged you, but you would have everything back. I currently change 2 - 5 seagate drives a day in our workshop (a boring job), and knowing that not every time machine backup is sound, we hold back returning the drives for 48 hours in case of problems like yours. There's no easy way to verify the integrity of a time machine backup, you can sometimes restore individual files and think all is OK, then it falls over when trying to restore to a new drive. For that reason I'd recommend carbon copy cloner to backup a drive. It clones your drive, then you can boot from it to check all is OK. I hope you recover your data, mrplow is offering sound advice.

Steve Bell
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Cinful

 
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Hi Steve. OK, so I finally decided to start from scratch. I re-installed snow leopard without importing my time machine back up during the SETUP process. That worked!

Then, I used MIGRATION ASSISTANT to transfer the data from the time machine backup - which also worked! It appears as if I have all my data!!! YEA! I actually can't believe it worked seeing as the backup file did seem to be corrupt. I am thrilled, but now I am left with a couple of new questions:

1) Why would RESTORE FROM TIME MACHINE BACKUP and OSX SETUP ASSISTANT not work and this method did?

This bothers me because now I have no way of knowing A) what caused the issues in the first place and B) if I ever have to do this again (or to another one of my macs--I have a couple) I'd like to be able to use the RESTORE process instead. (Did I mention my external backup drive is fine according to DISK UTILITY?)

2) Because I had to use MIGRATION ASSISTANT I now have two accounts on my imac. I know there is no way to merge them. But I am wondering if I can delete ACCOUNT A (the one I created when re-setting up Mountain Lion)? If I delete ACCOUNT A will ACCOUNT B (the one that I created when I migrated my data and the one containing all my migrated data) become the predominant account?

I ask because A) I'd like not to have two accounts and B) I'd like to be able to use the HOME file menu options which right now appear to only be available with ACCOUNT A. They all have little minuses next to them when I am in ACCOUNT B and it doesn't create a HOME file menu for ACCOUNT B. Hope all that makes sense.

3) If I am missing data (as you suggested I might be previously) where would you suggest I look first? Everything Appears to be here and even the most recent docs and such as well as internet history is in tact. Is there a common place where data is lost from that I could check?

Your help has been greatly appreciated! You have been more help than Apple or the guy who installed the new hard drive! Thanks a million!
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Cinful

 
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Correction to last email: I inadvertently referred to "Mountain Lion"
in Question 2 when I meant to say "Snow Leopard". Thanks.
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Cinful

 
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Thanks to Steve and to MRPLOW - I didn't realize both of you responded to my initial query. You're right. MRPLOW has sound advice. I added to both of your reps!
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Cinful

 
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One last item, Just in case, Rep still does have the drive. I have instructed him not to send back to Apple yet in case we have to clone. My preference would have been to keep it vs. sending it back to begin with. I don't like trusting someone else to wipe the data from it. Call me "Cin-ical"!
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techiesteve

 
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Good to hear you have your data back. To delete the empty account, log into the migrated account containing your data, enter system preferences then accounts. Verify your account is still an admin account, then click to hi-light the unwanted account and the click the minus sign to delete. You may have to click on the lock to unlock first. Select delete immediately and it's gone.

A service provider is requested by Apple to return exchange parts as soon as possible. Parts I replace are normally collected by courier the morning of the day following fitting, others may work differently. Only with Seagate 1TB drives do we keep them for 48 hours in case the customer has a problem. That's our decision, not necessarily everybody else's. Your drive may have already been returned, and a service provider isn't obligated to hold it back. The hard drives have to be returned to Apple. Once the drive is shipped to Apple it's gone.

Security of data on returned drives is addressed here Keeping your confidential data secure during hardware repair

Steve Bell
UK
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Cinful

 
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Thank you!
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Cinful

 
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Hi Steve!

When I went to delete Account A (not the migrated and renamed account), it asked me what to do with the HOME folder. Does each account have it's own Home Folder? Because when I go to FINDER, when in account B - it always seems to want to pull up Account A's home folder first?

I guess my concern is, will I hose Account B by deleting Account A? I know logically that shouldn't happen but I don't know if they are somehow tied to one another because of the migration process?

Thanks again!
One of these days maybe I will know as much about mac as I did PC :-(
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