How to backup data from mac that wont boot

Here are some options for doing so on a system that will not start up.


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Many times when systems have troubles that may take an extensive amount of troubleshooting to sort out, the easiest solution is to perform a system reinstallation. Before doing this, though, it is always advised to have a backup of your system or your data at the very least ; however, in instances where you cannot boot your system, this may seem impossible to do.

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Despite this, if you have a system that cannot boot but you need to back up, there are some options available to back up the drive before wiping it clean. The first thing you will need is a working storage device such as an external USB drive that has the capacity to back up the contents of your faulty drive.

This is important to have ready from the beginning because sometimes faulty drives can still be unstable even if you can read them when you've accessed them in alternate ways, and being able to quickly transfer what you can off of them can be crucial in saving your data.

When you have a secondary storage drive available, the following options should allow you to access the faulty boot drive and get your data. Target Disk Mode If your system has a FireWire port, then you can boot it into Target Disk mode, which will turn your entire computer into a an external hard drive. Boot while holding the "T" key down, and when the FireWire symbol appears on the screen, attach it to another Mac with a FireWire cable. Attach your recovery drive to the second Mac or use the second Mac's hard disk and copy the contents of the faulty boot drive to the new Mac. External enclosure Another similar option is to purchase an external controller or drive interface cable that will allow you to connect the bare drive to a system via a USB cable.

5 Ways to Backup Your Mac That Won’t Boot in Recovery Mode

When troubleshooting or managing hard drives, these adapter cables such as the NewerTech Universal Drive Adapter can be priceless. You will likely need to use a second Mac to copy the drive's contents using an adapter cable, but another option is to replace your current Mac's drive, install a fresh copy of OS X, and then use the healthy installation to attempt recovery of your data from the faulty drive.

Secondary or external hard drive If you have a spare external hard drive, then you can use that as an intermediary on which to install OS X and boot the system. Then you can use that installation to manage the data on your normal boot drive. If your external drive is big enough, then one option is to install the OS to this drive and then try using the OS X migration assistant to transfer all of your data, applications, and settings to the new drive. After your data is migrated, you can use a cloning utility or even the same process with Migration Assistant to transfer the data back to the main boot drive at a later point.

Regardless of the method you use to access and back up the data on the faulty boot drive, the drive must be readable.

Options for backing up a Mac that will not start up - CNET

Therefore, if your drive is only suffering from a software configuration glitch that prevents it from booting then you are in a relatively good situation; however, if the drive will not mount or has other filesystem corruption, then even if you use the above options you may still have problems accessing your data. In these situations, using robust disk utility software may be your only hope. This is probably the easiest method. Compared to Disk Utility, this is a much more ancient tool and is only available via the Terminal.

In order to know which is your Macintosh HD and which disk is your external hard disk, you would need to get the identifiers via the diskutil tool. This prevents your Mac to sleep, while you recover your hard disk.


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  4. The iMac still sleeps, or at least the display is still being turned off from time to time. To disable it, enter killall caffeinate. This command only works with OS X After running the dd command for almost 48 hours , the cloning process has finally completed. Happy and excited, I took the backup drive and plug it into a working Mac and I saw this message. All was good, every file and folder was cloned. That was the end of it.

    After that nasty dd experience, I sought a simpler solution. Just copy and paste! For more other parameter options, head to Tutorials Point. You may notice that I set the source path as my home folder instead of the root folder. I figured that the important files are all inside my Desktop, Downloads, Documents, the rest are already synced to the cloud. My goal was to do a full system backup so that I can quickly restore the Mac back online. As it turns out, it was faster to restore my home folder, reinstall the Mac OS and all other apps.

    It was all complete in about 4 hours.


    • How To Back Up Your Mac That Won’t Boot - macReports.
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    • 5 Ways to Backup Your Mac That Won’t Boot in Recovery Mode – Scott Ng.
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    My MacBook was stuck in an endless panic kernel loop. I backed it up onto an external hard drive using disk utility in recovery mode, so that I can reformat the hard drive to hopefully fix the problem…The hard drive currently has the gb file kind: