Recovering data from Time Machine volume, without the original mac.
October 18, 2010 5:28 AM   Subscribe

How do I recover stuff from a time machine backup, without the original computer.

A while back I had a laptop stolen. I have a time machine backup of that laptop (on a case-sensitive HFS+ volume). Any time I try to just grab some files out of the backup, I get asked for a password (which I could take a guess at, but without any confidence), and the copy fails. I'd actually like to recover a few things and delete the rest, particularly because I need that HDD for another task.

What am I doing wrong, and why is this so tricky?
posted by pompomtom to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It could be a permissions problem. Are you sure it's not asking you for the password of the Mac you're using? It'll need to be an administrative account. Failing that, a screenshot of what you're seeing would help make sense of things.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 5:55 AM on October 18, 2010

You could use Migration Assistant to move all the User files to a User account on your current computer, then grab them from there.

If you're using a Time Capsule, it may be asking for the password to the Time Capsule. You ought to be able to reset that with Disk Utility.
posted by musofire at 6:00 AM on October 18, 2010

Yeah, I'd like to know where you're getting the password request. Are you using the Time Machine interface? Are you mounting one of the disk images in your laptop's backup? Do you see the files, but get a password request when you try to drag them elsewhere?
posted by thejoshu at 7:32 AM on October 18, 2010

are you just browsing into the hierarchy under Backups.backupdb and trying to drag files out? did the laptop (or does the machine you're trying to recover the files onto) have multiple user accounts on it?

if you're in an account with a different uid than the owner of the files you're trying to recover (first account created is uid 501, and they increment from there) it might be a simple permissions issue. as long as you don't care about maintaining the original ownership and will nuke the drive afterwards, do a Get Info on the volume and make sure "Ignore ownership on this volume" is checked in the Sharing & Permissions pane of the info window - this basically turns off unix permissions enforcement for removable drives.
posted by russm at 1:11 AM on October 19, 2010

Response by poster: OK, sussed it.

For future generations:

The password required was indeed the admin password of the new machine. The copy completed as long as it was into a fresh DMG of type HFS+ case sensitive. I am baffled as to why copying to a disk image made a difference (having spent a couple of hours clearing out a disk to be reformatted to case sensitive.

(jaffacakerhubarb gets best answer, because the reason I tried again this way was to collect some screenshots... the appliance always works perfectly when the repairman is looking...)

ta all!
posted by pompomtom at 1:34 PM on October 19, 2010

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