How do I locate the data files for Mac programs?
December 18, 2005 7:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm having trouble recovering my data from my external HDD after I used Carbon Cloner for Mac 10.4.3.

I thought my Powerbook hard drive was dying so I purchased an external HDD and used Carbon Cloner to backup all my stuff. Trouble is, I reinstalled Tiger completely clean and now I'm having trouble finding the data files for my programs (Mail, Virtual PC, iBank). Where is my information hiding and how can I prevent this problem in the future? Thanks in advance.
posted by SeizeTheDay to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Just start up off the external and clone the other way. Holding down the option key during startup lets you choose your startup drive. Easier than going to the Startup Disk Preference Pane.

If you don't want to do that, keeps your mail in ~/Library/Mail/. Don't know about the others but it should be somewhere in the Library folder in your home directory.
posted by boaz at 7:15 PM on December 18, 2005

Forgot to mention that you can also use Apple's Migration Assistant (in /Applications/Utilities/) to transfer all the user information from one drive to another if you already have the OS installed. But really, it's better just to restore the whole drive; that way you know everything is like you left it.
posted by boaz at 7:22 PM on December 18, 2005

Safe bets to copy over are ~/Library/Mail, ~/Library/Application Support/, ~/Documents (a surprising number of apps default to there) and if you're still missing things, maybe ~/Library/Preferences.
posted by Remy at 7:33 PM on December 18, 2005

Response by poster: The problem is I think that something in my computer is corrupt. There were two reasons why I completely reinstalled Tiger; I was afraid for my hard drive because every time I let it sit for a few hours, it stopped responding completely. The hard disk was still awake, as was my computer, but for whatever reason the computer stopped responding. The only way to fix it was to power it off completely and restart. I read in a few places that some preference could have been corrupt, among other things, so I thought a clean install would be best.

I'm glad I finally know how to recopy my system, thanks boaz, but for this particular instance, I don't want to do it.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:33 PM on December 18, 2005

People have already covered the question; your Virtual PC data can be wherever you chose to put it on the original setup, but it might be in /Users/~/Applications/[name of VPC Drive]. At least, that's where mine is.

If I were you, I would probably go ahead and use the migration assistant to import all of the data from your old account (at least from the User directory). Then, if anything weird continues to happen, try creating a new admin account and see if the weirdness continues when logged in to that one. If it does, there's a system-wide issue (could still be software or hardware), and your user prefs have nothing to do with it. If the problem goes away, your user data is somehow at fault.
posted by sluggo at 4:24 AM on December 19, 2005

Also, if you haven't already, boot off of the Apple hardware test disk that came with your laptop (on a newer Powerbook, hold down "option while booting from the OS Install/Restore disk, then select the Hardware Test) and loop it overnight (hold down ctrl + "L" to do this). This isn't an exhaustive test, but if it does find any hardware issues it would be worth getting those investigated before you spend too much time on the software side.

Specifically, I'd be looking for any weird memory info or indications your hard drive might be going bad (S.M.A.R.T. diagnostics).
posted by sluggo at 4:29 AM on December 19, 2005

In case the shorthand is confusing you, SeizetheDay, "~" means to open the Users folder on the hard drive, then the folder for your username. (It seems to me that if someone isn't sure where their OS stores data, they aren't going to know what ~ means, either, no? It certainly confused me when I went from OS 9 to OS X)
posted by bcwinters at 5:32 AM on December 19, 2005

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