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Any iMac gurus some backup/reinstall help?

Discussion in 'Tech Talk - Gadgets, Gizmos and Technology' started by Stewart Vernon, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. Apr 2, 2014 #1 of 41
    Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Doctor Whom Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Ok, long story short... I have an iMac that I do not have the passwords to use properly... so the easiest thing to do it seems to me is to backup the data so I don't lose any important files and then erase and re-install the operating system.

    I have not done this in a LONG time with a Mac OS... so I'm wondering about any gotchas so I don't go from a partially usable computer to a complete unusable one!

    Basically... any easy (doesn't have to be fast) and legally free way to copy/backup the content to an external drive... then suggestions on how to proceed with an erase/reinstall.

    When I purchased Mavericks OSX I burned the contend to a DVD... but reading online it almost sounds like that doesn't matter as I can connect to the internet and download/reinstall. Is it really that easy?

    I'm reading what sounds like:

    1. Restart the computer.
    2. Hold Command+R keys at the right time.
    3. Erase/format the drive.
    4. Choose Wifi connection (or connect via ethernet)
    5. Reinstall OS.

    Will I get to choose the OS in this scenario? OR is that when I would use my DVD that I hopefully burned correctly last year? I presume it would ask for my Apple ID at some point so I can configure for my account and not the one the computer is currently attached to.

    IF that's the case... then maybe all I really need help with is making a copy of all the content.

    I have a 1TB drive in the computer, but only about 350GB is used... and I have a 2TB external drive with plenty of free space. The plan is to dump the content to the external drive so I can look at leisurely to make sure I haven't lost any important files... but in the meantime I'm running into roadblocks doing things on the computer that prompt me for passwords that I don't know, hence the reason I need to ultimately wipe and start over.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts or help!
     
  2. Apr 2, 2014 #2 of 41
    lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    If you can actually backup all the data and have any keys you need for software that might need reinstalled, then your plan should work.

    As to the passwords, if you login to your iMac with an admin account and know that password, you can use the keychain tool to see any passwords that are save on that computer.
     
  3. Apr 2, 2014 #3 of 41
    Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Doctor Whom Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Yeah, I may not be able to install the software that is currently on it... but that's ok because I don't own that software anyway. For everything that I do own I either have the installation keys/info OR it was bought through the Mac App store and will be easy to restore that way.

    The computer I'm working with here is one that I don't have admin access to so anything that requires the admin password is stuff I can't do. I just want to make sure I get important data and pictures and stuff off of there before I start over with the reconfig.

    I'm mainly worried that there could be hidden files or folders that could be missed if I'm not careful. Was toying with the idea of using Disk Utility to make a DMG of the contents from the root, and then copying that file to the external drive. I wasn't sure if hidden files or folders would be captured properly in that scenario in a way that I could access later.
     
  4. Apr 2, 2014 #4 of 41
    P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    isn't booting from CD with same OS allow you to change password(s) ? I recall I did that ...
     
  5. Apr 3, 2014 #5 of 41
    mgavs

    mgavs Legend

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    Your step 2 will work only if there is a recovery partition. Here is what I would do:
    1 download superduper, easy to find, it's free for what we need.
    2 run disk utility, and create a partition on the external disk big enough to hold the running partition. Give it a name different from the running one.
    3 run superduper to copy the running partition to the external partition, this not only creates a full backup but a bootable one!
    4 restart, hold down the option during the chime and you will see the old partition and the new external, select the external one and enter. System should boot from the external. You can verify it using about this Mac, also probably slower.
    5 while booted from external download mavericks from the App Store, you can use the DVD if it's up to date (10.9.2).
    6 run disk utility to format the internal drive.
    7 install mavericks to the internal disk.

    Now you have not only a new mavericks built from scratch but can still boot from the old one. Search the web to find out how to copy mail or bookmarks, etc. easy to do. Good luck.
     
  6. Apr 3, 2014 #6 of 41
    Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Doctor Whom Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I don't know if booting from a CD will let me change passwords... that's a good question, though.

    I actually want to wipe and start with a clean Mavericks install for several reasons, not the least of which is that this was a computer used by someone else so I need to associate it with my Apple ID and get my applications on it... but there is also a lot of data that I want to preserve. Not config data, or email or anything... just data that I'll be able to open or view with my own installed applications.

    The reason why I'm a little nervous is... while I think I know what I need to do to wipe and get a clean install... I'm less sure how to get all the data I want off of there and make sure it isn't locked to the old account. I've read online, for instance, about people using Time Machine backups only to find that once they install under a different Apple ID and username that they can't access the Time Machine backups.

    It doesn't help that the person using this computer before was kind of disorganized... so whereas on my computer I could easily pick a few folders and know those were all the important unique data to preserve.. I could literally find an important file buried almost anywhere, including places where they normally shouldn't/wouldn't be!

    I did go through the command + R reboot to access Disk Utility from there and make a DMG of the entire drive. That seemed to work. I have not checked it to see if I can access the files on my other computer yet because it is getting late. I'm hoping that worked and if I can access that data from my other computer then I should be safe to wipe and install Mavericks clean from there.
     
  7. Apr 3, 2014 #7 of 41
    mgavs

    mgavs Legend

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    Still recommend using my method, you can't boot a dmg image which gives you complete access to the old stuff. As for changing the user that is simple. Pull up a file or better yet folder information using get info, then at the bottom click the lock to unlock, then add your new id as read write, MAKE SURE TO CLICK ENCLOSING FOLDERS. New you can drag from the old partition to the new and have full access to the files.

    As for resetting, i am sure you saw different ways depending on what osx release you have, mavericks requires an Apple ID. Even if you have the id it still does not allow you to access the files on the new partition with a different id. You should put all the stuff you need into one folder, then use the method I just described to add your new id to all the enclosed files and folders, then boot the new partition and drag them to the new partition.
     
  8. Apr 3, 2014 #8 of 41
    Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Doctor Whom Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Thanks... I'm combing through the options but was not doing anything last night anyway, so that's why I let the DMG run... but I'll look into superduper today. I'm not in a hurry as such, so I want to do it right the first time.

    I'll have to do a test run and make sure I can at least access the files from my other iMac before I wipe the one I'm clearing out... at least I have that and will know if it is accessible there I'm good to go with the reload.
     
  9. Apr 3, 2014 #9 of 41
    Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Doctor Whom Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I'm SuperDupering right now...

    I realized, though, that my initial backup plan was flawed if I wanted this bootable copy... because the 2TB drive I was doing to backup to already has content on it... and it did not appear that you could do that unless you let it erase/clone to a drive.

    Fortunately, though, I had a 320GB drive that I wasn't using... and I was able to delete enough stuff that I think will allow the clone to fit on that drive.

    Whenever this completes (I'm guessing it will take a while) I will try to boot from it and see if that works. If that works, then I should be good to go and erase the primary drive and go for the reinstall.

    Thanks again for all the help/thoughts... hopefully this goes as smoothly as it seems so far.

    Slightly different interface, but feels a little like when I used to use Ghost to clone PC/Windows machines.
     
  10. mgavs

    mgavs Legend

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    For the 2tb drive, that's why I had step 2 above, I have always keep multiple bootable partitions around on external for 4 different macs in case one internal drive fails I can boot the external, copy to internal, then use the last time machine to bring it up to date. In 20 years no Mac has failed me but I am prepared! Post if you need help. Of course the 320 external was easier since no partitioning was needed.
     
  11. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Doctor Whom Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Yeah it was easier to do it that way since it all fit. I did test booting from it (boy is that slow) after it completed last night.

    I'll continue on this weekend and see about wiping the computer since it looks like I'm at that stage now.
     
  12. mgavs

    mgavs Legend

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    Next... Boot the external, run disk utility in the utilities folder, click the internal disk partition you want to format, then erase. No need for the long erase unless you want to check the disk but it will take hours. Of course you could overlap that with downloading mavericks from the App Store. This way you will have the latest updates, your DVD sounds old. When the installer starts make sure to point it to the formatted internal drive. It will restart the computer and run from the internal to continue the install. You can alway option restart to reboot the external when needed. Good luck.
     
  13. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Doctor Whom Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I have a 10.9 Mavericks Recovery partition on the internal drive... When I'm ready for the wipe, I'm planning to boot to that and erase/install.

    I have a 10.9 Mavericks DVD that I burned when I bought it... but since there have been updates since then, I'm figuring on doing the download option to skip some updating afterwards. Since I have a fully functional computer to use already, I don't have to hurry this along too much.

    I still need to connect that cloned drive to my other computer and see if I can access the files there too. That gives me two ways of being confident that the data is safe before I wipe it.
     
  14. mgavs

    mgavs Legend

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    Yes can use the recovery partition but.... IMHO I prefer to download from the App Store, mavericks is free so I don't know why you paid for it. The reason is if you have a network problem during the install you may have to start over and it's slow, but it works if you have a good connection. The App Store download will take a while but the install will go fast, 20-30 mins. The DVD install is slow, you can make a DVD from the download easily but I never used it since the App Store so stopped doing it. I keep the latest osx installers on an external just in case, but that's me, I have 5 externals.

    As for booting the copied external on another computer that always works, as long as the computer can run that osx release, I do it all the time.
     
  15. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    I think the recovery partition just has enough to get running and online to download the actual OS installation as well as a few tools that might be needed like Disk Utility.
     
  16. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Doctor Whom Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Yeah, the recovery partition just lets you do a handful of things... including erasing the drive (except for the recovery partition of course) and downloading the OS to install.

    When I say "bought" Mavericks... of course this one was free... but I still say "bought" when I get free apps through the App Store. I had bought previous operating systems (Lion and Mountain Lion) that you did have to pay for... so I just remember them all the same, since the process was the same except for Mavericks not actually costing money.

    Technically speaking, I thought you could pay for a USB thumb drive version or something direct from Apple. I'm pretty sure you could with other versions... but I never checked for Mavericks since I was fine with downloading.

    The actual download last night was more than an hour, but I lost track since I was watching TV while I did it. The installation afterwards was much faster of course.

    Now I seem to be sticking on file sharing between my two macs. Nothing I seem to do is resulting in either mac seeing the other and yet both are on the internet and both on the same internal subnet but they can't ping each other. It's weird. I'll have to play more with that later as it will be easier to share/move some files around that way.
     
  17. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    Stewart, Apple offered the USB stick with Mountain Lion @$69 I think, or maybe it was Lion. It wasn't well received from all reports so I guess they decided not to do it anymore.
     
  18. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Doctor Whom Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I thought I remembered something like that, and also that they stopped doing it... but wasn't 100% sure.

    Meanwhile...

    An ethernet cable directly between my two iMacs, and enabled file sharing works fine... but over the network does not. I suppose my router could be blocking something... but I don't have a gigabit router anyway, so it is probably better to connect the two iMacs directly anyway for speed of transfer.
     
  19. Laxguy

    Laxguy Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense.

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    The best bet for connecting two Macs is Target Mode- use a firewire cable and restart one while holding down letter T.
     
  20. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    For certain things target mode is fine. But most Macs these days don't have firewire.

    Stewart, what you describe pretty much says your router is doing it. That's one of the reasons I just got Airport products instead.
     

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