Recommendations for data-recovery software for MacBook?
May 4, 2007 2:30 PM   Subscribe

A couple days ago, my MacBook was stolen by one of my (high school) students. Due to the tireless work of school police and the principal, I now have it back. However, there is a great deal of data missing: pictures, music, documents, and (of course) my GRADEBOOK. Before you say it: Yes, I know I should have backed up to an external hard drive. I know MeFites have recommended companies like DriveSavers to do off-site data recovery, but I'm looking for something I can just download and do myself. I've found a few utilities available for download but I'm not finding anything that would work on an Intel MacBook. Any ideas, other than time travel and an external hard drive?
posted by elisabeth r to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Are you using this Macbook to browse the internet? That's not a good idea; new files you create (including web browser cache files) can overwrite the disk locations where the old files (e.g. the gradebook) resided. That leaves nothing for the data recoverer / service to look at; once that section (or enough parts of sections) of the disk is overwritten, I think you'll be out of luck.
posted by amtho at 2:41 PM on May 4, 2007

Having been through this recently, second what amtho said: get off that computer *now* if you're still using it - no email, no wireless, no opening things.
posted by whatzit at 2:44 PM on May 4, 2007

I know this doesn't help you now, but Mozy is now available for Mac.

Free backups, great UI - as in, basically no UI. You download it, it runs, you never ever have to think about it again unless something bad happens.
posted by dmd at 2:54 PM on May 4, 2007 [5 favorites]

I don't think you'll be completely out of luck. I've recovered years old deleted data from various drives and various filesystems. I've had quite a bit of luck with Data Rescue II.

Of course, it's possible that you MAY be completely out of luck, but I don't think so.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 2:57 PM on May 4, 2007

thirding the get the hell off the computer from which you wish to recover data.
posted by juv3nal at 3:21 PM on May 4, 2007

Dang, working in a school doing IT work, I feel your pain and the kind of crap kids will pull off regarding computers.

As an alternative to recovering data off the physical HD, there is a very real possibility the student may have first copied all the data to their own HD. Would it be possible to work with administration to find out?
posted by jmd82 at 6:14 PM on May 4, 2007

I'll second Data Rescue II. You can download (click the FREE DEMO link) at no charge and have it scan for missing files. It will tell you exactly what it can recover. If it lists the missing data, pay for it and use it.
posted by pmbuko at 8:25 PM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Just make sure you don't download it to the disk you're trying to recover!
posted by dmd at 8:49 PM on May 4, 2007

1. Get off that computer, and get on another Mac.
2. Download Data Rescue II to that second Mac. It is designed for exactly this situation.
posted by jjg at 9:04 PM on May 4, 2007

Absolutely third'ing Data Rescue II.

I used it back when it was called "Data Rescue X", and it totally saved my ass once when I accidently emptied my Trash, instead of restoring the files in the Trash, which I had intended to do.

Even though I had worked on the computer for 6-7 hours before realizing my mistake, Data Rescue X was able to scavenge the drive, and managed to find 95% of the files I needed.

I was instantly sold. And I'm sure the newer Data Rescue II is even better, even though I haven't had the need to try it yet (thankfully).
posted by melorama at 10:32 PM on May 4, 2007

Did you check if another user was created. Perhaps you are just logged in as a different user and all of your data is still in the right place?

Else: Data Rescue II is a good bet IMHO too.
posted by KimG at 7:17 AM on May 5, 2007

Data Rescue, but you can't download and install it (or rather, you can, but it's a really, really bad idea) if you're booted up and running from that hard drive.

You need to stop using that computer *now*, pull the hard drive out (do you have an IT department / resident geek who can help you? it's trivial for someone who knows what they're doing) and put it in a firewire or other external drive enclosure, hook it up to another computer (mounting it read only), and rescue the data from there.

Every second you use that computer, you lessen the chance that you will recover data from the drive.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:02 AM on May 5, 2007

Data rescue, but the process is not as difficult as Kadin2048 says. You do not need to pull the hard drive out; just start up the MacBook whilst holding down the 't' key and it will boot into "Target Disk mode" where it essentially behaves as if it were a Firewire hard disk. You will need to connect the MacBook to another Mac using a Firewire cable, and run Data Rescue on that other Mac.
posted by nowonmai at 12:36 PM on May 6, 2007

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