Computer crashed, forgot to backup? Here’s a solution.

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Recently, I totally killed Gustaf Soderstrom’s computer.

It’s a mac mini, and on starup it was totally stuck at the apple  loading screen .

He doesn’t backup his data on the Mac Mini, and he had some homework that he needed off of his hard drive.

I have a USB external enclosure so we could take the hard drive out of his computer and get the data off on another computer, but I didn’t have the correct screwdriver to take out the hard drive.

So here’s how I ended up getting the data off.

You will need:

1. No hardware problems! The reason that your computer is dead MUST BE ONLY SOFTWARE RELATED!

2. The original install disk that came with the computer

3. An external hard drive bigger than the estimated amount of data you have on your dead computer.

Lets get to this.


Step 1. boot from the original install CD

Put in the CD and boot up holding the C key. It will take a while to boot but it will boot from the install CD.

Step 2. Plug in the USB hard drive.

Simple enough. USB, Usb. Congratulations.

Step 3. Open Disk utility

At the screen where it asks you to install, go to Utilities>Disk utility.

Wait for it to load, and trust me, it eventually will. :)

Step 4. Copy the data.

You should see both your USB drive and your internal hard drive in the list on the left of disk utility. Select the internal hard drive (the one that actually has a name and is grouped under the physical hard drive) and select from the top “Create new disk image.”

Select for it to be read/write and make sure the encryption is set to none. Above where to select that it probably says root with a little home next to it. Click that dropdown and select your usb hard drive. Then, save the disk image.

Step 5. WAIT

This will take forever. for 65 GB, it took about an hour and a half.

Step 6. Eventually the window will close and you will have no idea that you ever started the disk image copy (it doesn’t even tell you that it’s done or anything).

Step 6. 5: Make sure it worked (optional)

If you have another computer, plug in your USB hard drive and open the disk image. Skip the verification process as it’s wasted time. It should open a window and you should see a Users, Library, Applications, etc. folders. If you see these then congratulations, you’re successful!

If you don’t have another computer, you have to skip this step and hope for the best!

Step 7. Install!

Quit disk utility and the installer will reopen. Go through the simple steps (click continue, click install) and it will install a fresh version of your operating system.

Step 8. Put your data back

Plug in your USB drive and mount that disk image. Replace the applications folder already on the fresh installation with the one from your computer and do the same with your whole home folder (especially the library folder as that contains crucial application support).


Congratulations! You just got your stuck computer reformatted and saved your data!

Thanks gustaf for letting me kill your computer and find out how to fix it again! :)