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How do I restore a failed external hard drive using Time Machine?

1115 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: Aug 24, 2013 7:55 AM by klausdelanghe RSS
BMBell1919 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Feb 9, 2013 1:39 PM

I have an external hard drive connected to my iMac that is being backed up with Time Machine.  I just realized that should it one day fail and no longer appear as a connected device, I'm not sure how to restore its data to another external drive.  When I disconnected the external hard drive (to mimic a drive crash) and entered Time Machine to see if I could verify that the external hard drive was, in fact, being backed up - I didn't know where to find it.  Under the Today (Now) information, I didn't expect to see it there as it was no longer connected to the machine.  But when I went back a few days, I expected to see its backup appear in the Sidebar.  But no!

 

So - how do I restore a failed external hard drive using Time Machine?

 

Searches for this information on Google yielded "iffy" results.  I'm hoping someone here is able to offer some clear steps to follow.  Perhaps I'm missing something silly.  Thank you very much!

20" iMac, Mac OS X (10.6.4), 2.66 GHz + 4 GB RAM
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (220,950 points)

    If I understand correctly you have an external drive being backed up to a Time Machine backup drive. You are backing up your computer's internal drive to the same Time Machine backup drive. You want to know what  you would do if the external drive failed. Would you be able to restore its contents from the Time Machine backup.

     

    Assuming you did everything correctly with Time Machine there should be two separate folders on the backup drive. One for your internal drive and one for the external drive. This assumes the external drive remained connected to the computer at all times.

     

    You could restore the data to a new external drive in the same way you would to an internal drive. For help with that you can use Mac Help to look for articles on restoring a Time Machine backup. Also, please visit Pondini's Time Machine FAQ for help with all things Time Machine.

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (220,950 points)

    If you open a Finder window on the backup drive itself (double-click on its Desktop icon) you should find a single folder - Backups.backupd. If you open that folder you will find a folder for each hard drive not excluded. By default external drives are Excluded. To back them up you have to first remove them from the Excluded list. If you never did that then the external drive has never been backed up. That would be the reason why there are two folders in Backups.backupd - your iMac backup and your MacBook backup.

     

    Typically in a home situation such as yours using Time Machine provides a simple to use backup utility. But Time Machine is limited in its capabilities. Also, a backup strategy normally uses external drives to contain backups. One does not usually backup an external drive because they are typically used for backup rather than storage.

     

    In your case I am reasonably sure you have never had a backup of the external drive, and that's why you don't see it on the backup drive.

     

    So, if you want it backed up then here's what you need to do:

     

    1. In Time Machine preferences remove the external drive from the Exclude list.

    2. Verify that it is now included with your other drive in the backup list.

    3. Do a Backup Now to create a new backup of the external drive.

     

    Note that if you disconnect the external drive Time Machine preferences will forget all about it. You will need to configure Time Machine preferences again when you next connect the external drive. Make things easy by always having the external drive connected to the computer.

  • AvdM-NYC Calculating status...

    I came across this discussion after encountering the same problem. Since my internal HD was cose to full I added an additional external HD to my setup. I moved my iPhoto files to an external HD and backed both this external HD and my internal HD up with Time Machine to another external HD. So far the theory. When I wanted to test if this setup worked I noticed that I could only see my iPhoto libraries on the external HD in Time Machine when the external HD was connected to my computer, but not if I turned it off. This led me to search for a solution on the Apple Support Communities discussion board.

     

    The suggestions made Kappy seem right, at least in my experience, in that my Time Machine simply did not back up the external HD until I followed the steps he suggested above. These were the following:

     

    "So, if you want it backed up then here's what you need to do:

     

    1. In Time Machine preferences remove the external drive from the Exclude list.

    2. Verify that it is now included with your other drive in the backup list.

    3. Do a Backup Now to create a new backup of the external drive."

     

    After doing this, my external HD showed up in the Backups.backupd as a seperate folder. I could clearly see the Time Machine back-up for my internal HD and my external HD. In addition, in Time Machine itself I was able to find the external harddrive by clicking on my own computers name under "Devices". I hope my experience helps to resolve your issue as this discussion board has helped me resolve mine (which I believe to be very similar).

     

    Cheers!

  • klausdelanghe Calculating status...

    Like BMBell1919, I was worried about the ability to recover my external HD if she woudn't be there anymore. Apparently I configured everything right (as mentioned above), but I still couldn't see my backed up files when the external HD was disconnected.

    My (stupid) mistake: I always looked for my (external HD) backups using "Enter Time Machine", instead of navigating to the "Time Machine Backups" in finder. And if your external HD is not connected, it won't show up in "Enter Time Machine"-mode. So this might be helpfull...

     

    Ciao!

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