It’s most certainly a lesson for me and it can also be a lesson for you. Drives do fail from time to time and you should always have a backup plan to avoid Mac hard drive problems. I do have a backup plan, but I didn’t follow it as diligently as I should have done. I had a reminder to tell me every Monday to do a backup of my hard drives using the application SuperDuper. Three months went by without me actually doing those Super Duper backups. I thought that all my stuff was protected anyway by using Time Machine and also by saving my stuff to either iCloud drive or to Dropbox. Unfortunately, there was a gap in between these blocks of backup protection. I have been running my Mac from a Thunderbolt drive connected externally to my iMac. It is a solid-state drive SSD and I’ve been using it to have a fast boot and faster working Mac. With it only being a drive of 480 GB capacity I had to put some of my data onto the spinning drive which was still sitting inside the iMac. It is this drive which hasn’t been getting the backup love. As I mentioned, a good proportion of it was protected by using cloud services for backup. What wasn’t getting backed up was my iTunes library and my Photos Library.
Some photos have been lost
Any photos I took using my iPhone are safe because they have been going up to iCloud. Images I’d created on the Mac such as screenshots and work done in Affinity Photo or Affinity Designer during the last three months have been lost. It isn’t a huge amount of work, but I did have a number of book covers designed for Good and Geeky Books. It’s not going to be a huge problem to recreate those and I might be able to download the finished work as JPEG’s even if I’ve lost the working documents.
Some TV shows downloaded lost
The hard drive died right in the middle of downloading TV shows onto the BBC iPlayer. Those had to be downloaded again. There were a number of other TV shows I downloaded and put into iTunes and those also have been lost. Most of those I had seen and I won’t be bothering to download them again. So not a big problem there as far as mac hard drive problems are concerned.
Trying to sort the Mac hard drive problems
The first thing I needed to do was to buy a new hard drive to sort out my mac hard drive problems. I went for a 3 TB LaCie Thunderbolt Drive. I didn’t want to have to to crack open the iMac to replace the failed hard drive within. The iMac is five years old now and it is not within Apple care any more. It’s not an easy job to replace the hard drive and it would be too expensive to take it to an Apple Store to get the job done. I chose this lacy 3 TB Thunderbolt drive because it has two thunderbolt ports. I have plugged into the back of the iMac and I have daisy chained the SSD drive which is my boot drive from that. After connecting the drives up to the iMac 27in it booted up perfectly with no messing around. The next job was to use Disk Utility to format the drive for the Mac. I set it up as one big 3 TB partition.
Next I put the 2 TB backup drive into the hard drive toaster connected by USB. It is only USB 2 which is another reason why I went for the thunderbolt drive. I opened up the application Super Duper and I attempted to restore from the backup. The backup didn’t work as well as it should have done. I got some of the 1 TB of files from the backup drive onto the new drive. So my next action was to try using applications to mirror individual folders. I already had an application sitting in my applications folder called SyncTwoFolders which seemed to work okay. I wasn’t quite happy with it so I had a look to see if there were other applications available in the Mac App Store and I tried one called Sync Folders. I also downloaded another one called Compare & Sync Folders. These were free versions and had limitations with the type of synchronisation is available. I wasn’t completely happy with the way that any of these worked. I kept seeing errors of one sort or another.
Compare and Sync Folders
Mac Hard Drive Problems and Drive Genius
It just so happened that this morning I got an email in from a place where I previously bought software offering Drive Genius. Due to all the errors I’ve been seeing and the Mac hard drive problems, I thought it might be a good idea to get this. Maybe it will also fix the broken hard drive within the iMac. Normally costs $99 but it was available for $36. So it seemed like a no-brainer to get my hands on this software. It wasn’t able to fix the problems on the internal hard drive. It was able to tell me that the backup drive had some problems. As I am writing this the software is completing a physical check of the backup drive and hopefully it will put into tiptop condition. I did have some doubts about this drive beforehand anyway. I have recently done a complete wipe of the drive and a reformat, but it seems there were still some problems.
Drive Genius is able to do a number of different checks to sort out your Mac hard drive problems. It has a thing called DrivePulse which does a set of checks covering the main problems. It was this check that told me about the problems on the back of drive. The software will also do a rebuild of the file structure, repair permissions. On their webpage they suggested as a tool to use to defragmentation. SSD’s don’t need to be defragmented and usually iMac it isn’t generally necessary anyway. Drive Genius will do some cleanup tasks such as helping you find large files and duplicate copies. There is a tool to do a secure erase. You may also use drive genius to create delete and resize volumes without erasing them. I’m keen to protect my data from potential hard drive failures and it seems that Drive Genius will also monitor the hard drive. All in all it was a good buy and well worth having to keep my computer in good condition. I know that many people do consider drive genius as a must have for Mac users.
The check of the disk finally finished and it was not good news. The back up disk has problems and needs to be replaced. Drive Genius doesn’t say it can be fixed – Just informs me that it should be replaced. At least I was able to get most of the files off it. Goes to show that you need to have more than one back up and one of those back ups should be in the cloud. If one fails then you at least have a chance of recovering.
I’ve decided to take another approach to my backup needs for my Mac. So I don’t leave any holes in the back of strategy I’ve bought the application ChronoSync Express. The idea of this application is that I’ll be able to leave a backup disc in place in the hard drive toaster. I will set a scheduled comparison of specific folders on the new thunderbolt drive. ChronoSync Express will then make a mirror of that folder on the backup drive. I will have this scheduled every day of the week. If anything ever happens to the primary drive the most I will be able to lose will be will be files created within the last 24-hours. I will still do the superduper backups on a weekly basis.
Here is how it works with a folder
Setting up the Scheduling
Analysed after the Synchronisation