Mac - Windows - Mac help

My roommate has a LaCie external hard drive for his Mac that is broken. After much tinkering I took the thing apart and discovered that it was just the enclosure that’s broken, not the drive.

We have a new enclosure on the way, but I’m suggesting that we don’t take any chances with his drive being on its way out, and back it up.

The “not really but maybe dying” drive contains his OS as well as all his music, photos, etc. MacDrive says it’s “HSFJ” formatted. The only drives in the house big enough to back up his 300GB of data are my NTFS-formatted Windows drives.

Can I flat out copy the data from his Mac drive on to one of my NTFS drives and have that serve as a backup? Or is there going to be corruption/data loss?

I have a copy of MacDrive, free for 6 more days. It appears that that app will let me convert one of my partitions to HSFJ if I want. But that’d be sort of a pain that I’d rather avoid if I didn’t have to do it.

I also have the option of copying some files (like his 106GB of music) to my NTFS drive and files that need to be on HFS (??) on the few gigs I have free on my Mac Mini.

Not sure how this all works, tho. What would you do?

I know that you can copy the data over with no problem*, but you won’t wind up with a bootable backup that way. HFSJ stands for Hierarchical File System with Journaling. HFS along lacks the Journaling function. I’m not enough of a geek to know exactly what the J gets you, but it’s supposed to be better.

  • One issue: HFS and HFSJ both permit characters in file names that NTFS has problems with, so it’s possible that some files either won’t copy at all, or will copy with modified file names.

Macs have read-only access to NTFS built in, but there are free open-source downloads that will permit read-write access. If you’re just using it for temporary backup, that might not be a problem either way.

Snow Leopard can evidently write to NTFS but it sounds quite unstable. If you must back up to that drive, keep it on your PC and back up across the network.

A 320G external drive can be found for $50 or less. That’s a tiny fraction of the cost of data recovery. I’d buy one post-haste.

If you’re just concerned with data files and none are > 4G, put it on a FAT32 drive for maximum compatibility.

Copying the music and photos would be a good idea. Those files aren’t going to care what type of drive they are on.

I’m not trying to make anything bootable. He can reinstall his OS and apps if the drive dies. In fact I am going to have him install his OS on the machine’s internal drive. I just want to provide a storage space for his non-OS and non-app files.

Dude is super poor so a $50 drive is not in his budget. Also, he’d need either an IDE drive to go in his new enclosure (more $$ for the drive) or a different enclosure to go with a new SATA drive (less $$ for the drive, but extra for the enclosure).

So our best bet right now is a $20 IDE enclosure, keeping the old maybe-dying-drive, and putting his critical files on one of my NTFS drives. Then, if the drive does die, Mr. PoorPants can buy himself a new drive and … we can put his media files back, using the copy on my machine.

To reiterate…I’m not trying to make anything bootable or preserve applications. Just copy some files.

If this HDD has the OS in its’ root, where might I find the equivalent of Windows’ “My Documents”? Is there such a thing? He’s got a folder called “Music” which I am grabbing now.


Forgot to ask about this. Would this be an app like MacDrive, but for the Mac?

Since his drive is external, I think what we’d end up doing is if he needed to retrieve this data, we’d hook the external back up to my Windows machine and grab the data. Much faster than the network.

Would I need MacDrive at this time (moving from Windows back to Mac) or will the files just…go?

If this was his boot drive, his stuff is going to be in Root->Users->HOME where HOME is the name of his login. Inside of HOME will be other folders including Music, Movies and Photos.

If this was not a bootable drive, his stuff could be anywhere on it.

One more question…if I get him to put the OS on his internal drive, is there any way to easily delete the OS’s files from the external drive to save space?

In fact, is there any way to migrate settings from the OS install on the external drive to the OS install on the internal drive? I think Windows has a thing like that now.

He can use “Migration Assistant” to transfer his data to a new install, but it doesn’t work with USB drives, so you’ll need to find a FireWire enclosure for the old drive to use it.

Basically, you can safely delete anything that isn’t in your Home directory. This will wipe any software you have installed, but it should preserve any data you have created.

Actually, Migration Assistant does work with USB drives now. In fact, the MacBook Air and the current MacBooks don’t even have FireWire. Just select “From a Time Machine backup or other disk”

MacFuse and NTFS-3G are what I have installed - I believe the two work together, but because they work invisibly in the background, I haven’t had to think about either one for years.

I’m sure there are plenty of good options that will also do just fine.

Just thought of another question. Since I have drawn a few Mac folks here, thought I’d ask…

We bought the cheapest IDE external case for his external drive that we could find. It happens to be USB only. I just realized that previously, his external drive was hooked up via FireWire.

Will the machine be able to boot from a USB drive? It makes me sort of nervous since beowulff mentioned something that wouldn’t work via USB.

I don’t know what kind of Mac he has. It’s one of those deals that’s a screen connected to a base with the computer inside it. He also has told me that it can’t be upgraded to the latest OS and whatever OS he does have can’t load the latest Safari.

Only Intel Macs can be booted from USB. Than means anything older than 2006 is not in the running.

ETA: This might be a good time to find your local Mac Guru - they will be able to do what you need (for example, I keep Firewire/USB enclosures handy for both SATA and IDE drives). Try your local Mac User’s group.

From the description it sounds like he has the “lampshade” iMac. If it’s a late enough model it will be able to run Leopard (10.5). If not it will be able to run Tiger. Either way they can’t boot from USB, only Firewire.

Actually, following that link I figured out he’s got an Intel iMac. One of the 2007 versions of this.

So since it’s Intel can it boot from USB?

Yes, but you are probably better off using Migration Assistant.

If it’s one of the 2007 models it should be able to run Snow Leopard. System Requirements are an Intel processor and 1 gig RAM. Even the early 2006 model meets that if you expand the memory.

By the way, if he’s been using an external drive for space reasons, it’s not terribly difficult to have the OS on the internal drive and his home folder on an external drive.

I asked him why he set it up that way, with the OS on the external, and he said “I didn’t have enough space on the internal, and I don’t know what I was doing.”

I am done thinking about this. I backed up his non-Mac files to my drive (music, pictures, documents), ordered his enclosure, and raised the question “Will it boot from USB?”

Once I get his drive into the new enclosure I’m just going to hand it off to him and say “good luck. I’ve got copies of all your music here. Maybe you want to put your OS on the internal drive and maybe you want to visit the Genius Bar.”

Thanks all, been a big help!!!