What is the likelihood of recovering data that has been deleted inside an OSX account that also has been deleted?
September 28, 2008 1:53 AM   Subscribe

I know there are dozens of data recovery question on here, but nothing that appears to address my specific question. I have an Apple Powerbook G4 laptop running 10.4.1. In preparing to sell the machine I transferred a bunch of files across to an external drive, then deleted them, emptied the trash and deleted the entire user account (while telling it not to store a disc image of that account.) Since then nothing has been written to or deleted from the disk. Now I find that not all of my files were successfully copied to the external drive so I've lost a lot of data. In particular I would like to save just one folder full of Excel spreadsheets - my past few months of accounting. What is the likelihood of being able to achieve this, either myself or using a data recovery company?
posted by skylar to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My guess is that you should be able to get quite a lot, if you just deleted the stuff and didn't do any secure deletes. I have used Data Rescue II for that purpose a few times and it has always done well. It is quite expensive but you can do a test to see how much it can get and then assess if you want to pay for what you are getting.

Be sure not to use the computer as a computer, but access it in Firewire mode, i. e. connect it with a firewire cable to another computer and start with T held down. If you just use the computer and perhaps even create a new user, it will overwrite your data from the outset.
posted by KimG at 5:11 AM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Agreed. Have used Data Rescue II to recover (unerase) files successfully.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 9:14 AM on September 28, 2008

So can I confirm: you're suggesting the most sensible way to use this application would be to get another Mac, connect it to the laptop using Firewire, open the laptop's drive in Firewire mode, and run the software from the second Mac?

(Unfortunately I only have a second Windows PC with Firewire...will that work or will that be the wrong file system etc...?)
posted by skylar at 10:41 AM on September 28, 2008

I believe Data rescue II actually has a boot disk

So if you were to boot from the boot disk you could then recover the files to your external drive.

It depends how much money you want to spend compared to how much of your spare time you want to use.

Personally i would install OS X onto a firewire drive [if you dont have another mac get a friend to do this] boot from the external drive and use the tools from www.cgsecurity.com to recover your files. This would be the free but slightly more time consuming method.

The other way would be to purchase Data Rescue II and use the boot disk feature and recover to the the external drive.
posted by moochoo at 11:26 AM on September 28, 2008

Your chances of recovery are pretty good.

When you boot the computer, boot from a CD so that there's no writing to the hard drive. Attach an external USB drive, make a drive image (either using the unix command dd, or similar functionality built into most data recovery software), and then recover from the image rather than the drive (again to minimize any chance of messing things up on the original drive).
posted by zippy at 12:46 PM on September 28, 2008

Thanks to all of you - I recovered many (though not all) of the files, and of course they don't have their original names, which is a pain, but it's better than nothing!
posted by skylar at 12:49 PM on October 12, 2008

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