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Is my HD on the way out? Trying to backup with little luck.

post #1 of 2
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I have recently been having problems with my iMac. It was acting very slow and would have frequent spinning beach balls while doing pretty much anything. I know that my hard drive has been getting pretty full lately (about 11.5GB left of 250GB HD). Anyway went to restart the computer a week or so ago and it got stuck on the blue screen. Tried again a few times and would get stuck on either gray or blue screen. I then started the computer up with the startup disk and and repaired the permissions and did a check of the HD which said that it didn't need any repairs. I then did an archive and install of the OS(10.5). I restarted the computer and it took awhile but it did start up. I was able to verify that my stuff was still on the HD. I tried transferring some of my files to an external HD and had some success. Seemed that it would transfer so much (700ish Mb) then stop and hang. I decided it was time to take it to the Mac Genius Bar and they were able to find and run disk utility on my HD with the same results. He told me to go home and use disk utility to create a disk image of the hard drive and save it to my external HD. I tried to do that twice now and it seems to work until just before the end of the progress bar. I get a message that says that it is unable to create the image file because of I/O errors (or something like that). What does this type of error seem to indicate? Am I doing something wrong or am I just out of luck. I need to get some of the HD (hopefully) and was dumb enough to not make a backup sooner. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 2
Your problem is typical of a overfilled hard drive.

This is what you do:

1: Get yourself a external hard drive larger than than the capacity of your iMac's boot drive. You should have Firewire ports so get a external powered drive with Firewire. Apple would be the best place to get a Firewire drive as other places tend to carry only USB drives. Firewire is faster. Cables should be in the box. Use Firewire 800 if you have it on both as this is the fastest interface otherwise use 400.

2: Locate your OS X install disk and stick it in, hold "c"and boot from the CD. It will be slow. After a few screens you'll have a menu option at top to launch Disk Utility, do that and Erase with Zero the new external drive and format HFS+. (the Erase with Zero will map off bad sectors ahead of time, improving data retention, only needed once per new drive)

3: After that is done, install OS X on the external hard drive. Use Disk Utility to repair permissions on the new drive. Reboot, hold the mouse button down to eject the OS X install disk and hold "option" and select the external drive to boot from.

4: Now you can the external to move files off the original boot drive. If you plan on erasing the drive and reinstalling the OS, you should also Erase with Zero one time if it hasn't been done before.

It's ideal to keep your boot drive below 1/2 filled for performance and not more than 3/4 filled. Look in Activity monitor.

It's also wise to clone your whole boot drive to a boot-able external hard drive using something (free) like Carbon Copy Cloner. So you have something to boot from, get online and access your original drive if need be. Using Data Rescue, Disk Warrior, TechTool Deluxe etc.

TimeMachine can also help, but it's not bootable, so it requires you to fix the problem with your original drive first before you can restore back from it. It's just a backup device, but a good one.
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