12 Replies Latest reply: Nov 15, 2012 9:50 PM by Pondini
Frozo Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)

Long story short, my system drive became corrupted and I wasn't able to repair it with Disk Utility or DiskWarrior. I knew my Time Machine backup was up to date on my Time Capsule, so I formatted (quick format) my drive and installed OS X again, thinking I could just reimport my info back from the Time Machine backup.

 

What happened is now the hard drive is not showing up in the sparsebundle file. The other 2 internal drives seem to be fine.

 

In retrospect, I know I screwed up process. But my question is, is there ANY way to make that backup available again? I know it all must still be there but somehow the link to it must have been broken and I can't access it.

 

I lost everything but the videos/photos of my 17 month old son is devastation. I really hope someone can save me here.

 

(I did use a recovery app (read only) on the system drive so I do have access to the raw data, but there are literally millions of files to sort through, many corrupted).

  • 1. Re: Time Machine backup disappeared--devastating loss
    Frozo Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)

    Adding on:

     

    Im thinking this has nothing to do with the link now though. Yes, I have a new hard drive (with 10.8.2 installed), but I can even open and see the contents of my wife's iMac sparsebundle file--so why wouldnt I be able to see my boot disk contents?

     

    Im really starting to think this backup is simply gone. How could this even happen?

     

    To be clear, I can open my "Sparse Disk Image Bundle" on the Time Capsule. I then have access to /Backups.backupdb/Mac Pro/. There are many incremental backups listed, within each are 2 folders (one for each internal drive I still have connected to my Mac Pro). There should be a THIRD folder with my boot disk "The Tardis" listed, but it's completely gone in all incremental folders.

     

    I never deleted any backups, how would this just disappear?

     

    Im really praying there are some options for me here.

  • 2. Re: Time Machine backup disappeared--devastating loss
    Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    Frozo wrote:

    . . .

    so I formatted (quick format) my drive and installed OS X again,

    Then what did you do?  When your Mac started up after the installation, did you choose to transfer your data via this window?

     

    shapeimage_4.png

     

    I'm assuming you did not, but set up a new user account instead?  

     

     

    To be clear, I can open my "Sparse Disk Image Bundle" on the Time Capsule. I then have access to /Backups.backupdb/Mac Pro/. There are many incremental backups listed, within each are 2 folders (one for each internal drive I still have connected to my Mac Pro). There should be a THIRD folder with my boot disk "The Tardis" listed, but it's completely gone in all incremental folders.

     

    Have you done any backups since the boot drive failed?

     

    Do you mean you opened the sparse bundle via the Finder, or via the Time Machine browser (the "Star Wars" display)?

     

    If you mean the TM browser, see #E3 in Time Machine - Troubleshooting.  If you've done any backups since the failure, don't select anything in the Finder window, but in the TimeLine on the right, locate a backup from before the failure and see what drives were backed-up on it.  If the old boot drive was backed-up, there will be a folder representing it.

     

    If you mean the Finder, are there any backup folders from before the failure?

  • 3. Re: Time Machine backup disappeared--devastating loss
    Frozo Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)

    I initially chose "From Another Disk" and thats when it told me there was no System Information or a similar error (I forget). I then chose "Not Now" because I had no other recourse.

     

    I have had Time Machine turned off since the installation of OS X on the new drive, as I didnt want anything to be written over.

     

    I have opened the sparse bundle manually from the finder and also via the TM browser.

     

    There are no backups of the old drive when I open the sparse bundle file through the Finder.

     

    When I use the browser via the timeline on the right, I can go back as far as a year and in all instances only the "Bay 2" and "Bay 3" internal drives show up.

     

    I know for a fact, 100%, that the old boot drive has been backing up. It mysteriously disappeared.

  • 4. Re: Time Machine backup disappeared--devastating loss
    Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    Frozo wrote:

    . . .

    I know for a fact, 100%, that the old boot drive has been backing up. It mysteriously disappeared.

    That doesn't just happen spontaneously.  Either it wasn't being backed-up, or the backups of it have been manually deleted.

     

    The only other (very remote) possibility is, the sparse bundle's directory is damaged.  Try reparing it, per #A5 in Time Machine - Troubleshooting.  It sounds like you have quite a lot of backups, so that will likely take a very long time, so connect to the Time Capsule via Ethernet cable if at all possible.  It will still take quite a while, but be 2-3 times faster than via WIFI.

     

     

    (It's fairly late here, and I'll be going to bed in an hour or so  (most likely long before you'll have any results from that), but I'll be back online tomorrow.)

  • 5. Re: Time Machine backup disappeared--devastating loss
    Frozo Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)

    Disk Utility returned "The volume Time Machine Backups appears to be OK."

     

    Nobody else has access to this drive, so it wasnt deleted.

     

    Would you know what the preference file would be that holds the information as to which drives are being backed up? I may be able to do a content search for it on my recovered raw data files. Id be curious--maybe I had accidentally added the disk on the exclude list somehow!? Maybe I wasnt 100% sure, because I havent had to access it for over a year at least.

     

    Lets say it was recently deleted somehow, is there any recourse to pulling anything off it? But then, even it it were physically delted, it wouldnt have been an accident, since it would have to be manually removed from each incremental folder and there are about 70 of them!

     

    Thank you so much for your help. You obviously dedicate a lot of time with these kind of issues.

  • 6. Re: Time Machine backup disappeared--devastating loss
    Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    Frozo wrote:

     

    Disk Utility returned "The volume Time Machine Backups appears to be OK."

    That was quick!  

     

    Would you know what the preference file would be that holds the information as to which drives are being backed up? I may be able to do a content search for it on my recovered raw data files. Id be curious--maybe I had accidentally added the disk on the exclude list somehow!? Maybe I wasnt 100% sure, because I havent had to access it for over a year at least.

    /Library/Preferences/com.apple.TimeMachine.plist

     

    (That's the top-level Library folder, not the one in your user home folder).   It contains the current instructions;  if you make a change, that will be reflected in subsequent backups, but earlier ones won't be changed.

     

    But of course, if you don't have the backups, you can't tell what was in that file.

     

    Lets say it was recently deleted somehow, is there any recourse to pulling anything off it?

    Even if it was recently added to the exclusion list (all internals are backed-up by default), that wouldn't affect prior backups.  Those would still be in the Backups.backupdb folder, until the entire backup (or all backups of a selected item, as below) was deleted.  Since you have at least a year's worth of backups, it would still have been there.

     

    If you really want to double-check, Time Machine puts a hidden, somewhat cryptic, log in each backup folder.  Among other things, it shows which volumes were backed-up. 

     

    First, you have to change the Finder to show hidden items.  See #A3 in Time Machine - Troubleshooting if you don't know how to do that.

     

    Then via the Finder, locate the log file, shown in gray since we mere mortals are not authorized to read it, either:

     

    Screen Shot 2012-11-15 at 11.40.39 PM.png

     

    Then you must give yourself read rights to the file.  Right-click it and select Get Info.  In the window that shows, open the Sharing & Permissions section at the bottom.  Click the padlock and enter your Admin password, then click the plus sign and select your user account.  That will give you read rights.

     

    Open it with a text editor.  Here's part of a sample, showing the "preflight" to back up two drives:

     

    Screen Shot 2012-11-15 at 11.45.45 PM.png

     

    See if the "missing" drive shows up there.  If not, it wasn't backed-up.

     

     

    But then, even it it were physically delted, it wouldnt have been an accident, since it would have to be manually removed from each incremental folder and there are about 70 of them!

    There is a "Delete all backups of ..." option in the TM browser that would do them all at once.  It's almost impossible to do it by accident, though.  See Time Machine - Frequently Asked Question #12.

  • 7. Re: Time Machine backup disappeared--devastating loss
    Frozo Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)

    Holy cr@p! I have to be more careful with my "100%"

     

    I went back to the earliest log (nov 2011) and there STILL wasnt any mention of my boot drive!! I cant believe I havent been backing it up for over a year. Unreal. I really scr3wed myself over on this one bad.

     

    Thank you so much for your help in solving my mystery. Embarrassing and unfortunate, but at least I know now.

     

    My last hope is that my drive is at a data recovery service. I let them know I have all the raw data and Id only be interested if they can restore the file/folder structure (which I assume is in a missing directory reference file, to put it simply). I only did a quick format that took literally seconds, so I know all the files are there... and I didnt use the drive at all afterwards, so I know nothing had been written over. I dont even know if what Im hoping for is possible, but I shoudl know in a couple of weeks I guess (they're backed up from Sandy)

  • 8. Re: Time Machine backup disappeared--devastating loss
    Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    Yup.    My condolences. 

     

     

    One more reason never to rely on a single backup, no matter where it is or how it was made -- you'd be in the same pickle if the Time Capsule had failed (which they do, of course).

     

    See Time Machine - Frequently Asked Question #27 for details and some suggestions.

  • 9. Re: Time Machine backup disappeared--devastating loss
    Frozo Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)

    Could I please email you my exclustions.plist file? Id rather not post it publicly, as Im not sure if there is sensitive info in it.

     

    Im asking because I see no mention of my HD "The Tardis" being excluded, which Im almsot sure I never did. I'd still like to know WHY it wasnt being backed up.

  • 10. Re: Time Machine backup disappeared--devastating loss
    Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    Do you mean the one that's hidden in the backup folder, along with the log?   If so, that doesn't show excluded volumes for some reason, just excluded files and folders for volumes that were backed-up.

     

    If you mean the current /Library/Preferences/com.apple.TimeMachine.plist, that won't help.  When you erased your startup drive and installed OSX, that generated a new one.   Since you don't have backups of the pre-erase startup drive, you can't tell what was in the old version.

     

    Run a backup, then check to confirm whether it's getting backed-up.

  • 11. Re: Time Machine backup disappeared--devastating loss
    Frozo Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)

    I did mean the hidden file in the backup folder. So never mind that, thanks.

     

    I know the new TimeMachine.plist would be new, but I do have my raw data and I could probably do a content search to find it. That might shed some light...

     

    Where would you exclude specific volumes? Same Time Machine "Options" as you would exlude files/folders? I would never have done that intentionally... how easy could that be to do accidentally? So weird

  • 12. Re: Time Machine backup disappeared--devastating loss
    Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    Frozo wrote:

    . . .

    Where would you exclude specific volumes? Same Time Machine "Options" as you would exlude files/folders?

    Yup. 

     

    Your Time Machine drive should be there automatically, but shown in gray (meaning you can't remove it).  So will any drives/partitions that aren't formatted for a Mac, since Time Machine can't back them up.

     

    I would never have done that intentionally... how easy could that be to do accidentally? So weird

    Some folks manage it.  It seems to happen when they don't quite get that it's an exclusion list, not a list of drives/partitions they want to be backed-up, as with other backup apps.  Usually, they only have a single internal HD, and if it's excluded, Time Machine will fail with a message about there not being anything to back up.