12 Replies Latest reply: Dec 15, 2012 12:00 PM by LousyFool
giantELF Level 1 (0 points)

I keep my iPhoto library -- aning may other files -- on an external drive (iomega 1 TB).   I use Time Machine (Time Capsule) for my back-ups of iphoto - and all my files on this drive.  The external drive is failing.  I have bought an new external drive and wish to restore my iPhoto library to this new drive.  The steps for restoring from Time Machine require me to click on the iPhoto library and then enter time machine.  I cannot do this as the folder is now unreadable on the drive and I do not wish to restore it to this old drive in any event. 


I have accessed the time machine drive and can see the iphoto back up is there. 


What is my next step?



iMac, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2)
  • LousyFool Level 4 (2,645 points)

    See here, for iPhoto-specific stuff scroll towards the end of the page.

  • giantELF Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you for you prompt response.  I have used these standard Time Machine methods in the past to restore files I accidentally deleted or saved wrong.  But these methods do not help this particular case as the files I need to restore are on a drive that cannot be accessed.  It is dead.  But the backed up file is on the time machine.


    That is to say --


    Time Machine's default is to highlight the file or folder you wish to restore and then enter Time Machine.  Time Machine head to the back-up of that file in a finder window.  Then you scroll through to the date you wish and hit restore.  But I cannot highlight the iPhoto library -- or any other file -- as is it is on a corrupted disk.


    I need some different manner that allows me to restore the file to another external drive. 

  • LousyFool Level 4 (2,645 points)

    I have not tried this yet, but since you're dealing with a Finder window in TM, regular file operations such as drag & drop should work too, no?


    So, launch TM without selecting the file. Once TM is active, maneuver to the backed-up file. Now, instead of selecting the file and hitting "Restore", just drag and drop it onto the location where you want it, in this case the other external drive which should also be visible in the sidebar.



  • Linc Davis Level 10 (184,625 points)

    The steps for restoring from Time Machine require me to click on the iPhoto library and then enter time machine.


    That's not necessary. Select the icon representing the computer in the sidebar of a Finder window (under DEVICES.) Enter Time Machine and scroll back to the snapshot you want to restore from. Then navigate within the snapshot to the iPhoto library. Select it, then select Restore iPhoto Library to... from the action menu (gear icon) in the toolbar. Select the folder you want to restore to and click the Restore button in the lower right corner of the screen.

  • giantELF Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the reply Linc.  The other problem i have is that even doing it your method -- or any mtheod --  Time Machine opens without a sidebar. I am able to manuever through iusing the status bar on the bottom but when I click on the folder with the external hard drive backup -- it freezes. 

  • giantELF Level 1 (0 points)

    Here is what Ihave done thus far --


    Whenver I go into Time Machine I get the Time Machine disk on my desktop.  Instead of the backup file this disk has the actual iPhoto Library on it.  I tranfsrered this file -- drag and drop -- over to the new disk. 


    Only drawback thus far:  when I clicked on the new iphoto library got a notice that I needed to upgrade the library.  I clicked ok.  Then I got this:


    "You can’t open your current photo library using this version of iPhoto."


    It went on to explain I made changes to the library using a newer version of iPhoto (i did not becasue I do not have iPhoto 11)  And then it said to download the latest version.  I am hesitant to do so because I have heard horror stories about data loss with the newest version.


    Any sugggestions or comments?  I guess I will need to duplicate the library file (300 gigs) and pay the $15 for the new iPhoto unless there other other ways...

  • Linc Davis Level 10 (184,625 points)

    Either I wasn't clear, or I haven't understood you.


    You have an external drive (A) that has failed. You have backups of A on a Time Capsule (B.) You want to restore something from B to a new external drive (C.)


    Is that correct?


    If it is, you don't need A at all. Disconnect it. Send it to its well-earned reward. Restore from B directly to C as indicated above.


    As for the sidebar, if it's showing in the Finder when you enter Time Machine, it will also show in the snapshots. Select View > Show Sidebar from the menu bar.

  • LousyFool Level 4 (2,645 points)

    If you have accessed an iPhoto Library with a newer version of iPhoto requiring conversion or other changes of the library, you will not be able to open it with an older iPhoto version anymore, indeed.


    Getting the newest iPhoto and future updates is cheap compared with any alternative - of which you don't have many, anyway.


    You may also want to think about splitting your single 300GB library up into multiple smaller ones, which will then be much easier to manage. And you will want to do this soon as it will become more awkward with each photo you add to your present gigantic library.



    P.S.: Most, if not all, "horror stories" you might have seen on iPhoto 11 are user-inflicted, and it's very few compared with the many more happy users like myself. Loss of data can happen all the time for many, many reasons (again, the user being cause #1), and that's what backups can protect you from.

  • giantELF Level 1 (0 points)

    You are correct Linc.  I am probably not being clear enough.  The dead drive is disconnected and I am only using the new external drive, the iMac and the Time Machine backup drive which is connected to the iMac via ethernet.


    I am trying to what you have suggested and appears all over the internet as the correct method.  Unfortuntely, it is just not working.  I will take snapshots of the screens to illustrate.  (not sure how to take sceenshots in Time Machine.)


    While in finder I have the sidebar.  I choose my iMac and choose enter Time Machine (Home Drive is the new external drive):

    IMG_7029.JPG (8 documents, 8 total pages).jpg

    Just before I enter -- a window opens that says "connecting to back-up volume":

    IMG_7031.JPG (8 documents, 8 total pages).jpg

    Then another window opens -- on it's own -- that is the Time Machine Back-up and it does not have the sidebar:

    IMG_7032.JPG (8 documents, 8 total pages).jpg

    As I slide into Time Machine another window opens -- on its own -- that contains the elements of my sidebar:

    IMG_7033.JPG (8 documents, 8 total pages).jpg

    As show below in another screen grab:


    And now I am in Time Machine with that window -- i have even tried to click on the sidebar window which lies in the background just prior to sliding into Time Machine but I still get this window):

    IMG_7034.JPG (8 documents, 8 total pages).jpg

    No side bar.  But, I can choose any back-up window behind it it -- going back in time -- and get windows that looks like this:


    Via the bottom status bar I can manuever to the correct back-up date and time i want and get this window:

    IMG_7036.JPG (8 documents, 8 total pages).jpg

    The Iomega HDD contains the back-up of iPhoto Library (and other files) thart I wish to restore.  I should be able to open this folder.  Choose the files to restore and voila.  But when I choose the foloder.  Nothing.  It freezes -- except i can still manuever the mouse.  No spinning wheel.  Nothing.  I cannot exit Time Machine etc.  I end up shutting down using the power button.


    BTW. Here is the wiondow I get when I click on the Time Machine drive in the sidebar:

    Time Machine Backups.jpg

    I can choose the iPhoto Library and I dragged and dropped to the new drive.  There was an error the first try (after 4 hours...) but the second try worked.  I have duplicated/backed-up the library getting ready to experiment with an new iPhoto upgrade. 


    Is this the same library?


    But any thoughts on what happened during the Time Machine process is appreciated.



  • giantELF Level 1 (0 points)

    LousyFool --Thanks for the help thus far. 


    I have duplicated the library after transferring (see above) and will try the new iPhoto.  Just waiting to see if there are any other ideas out there first.  $15 bucks is not much but I would prefer to see if I can restore the Library -- and all its elements -- the correct way through Time Machine first.  Either way I will most likely upgrade.


    The mystery is why am I getting this message that claims I have changed elements of the library with a newer version of iPhoto -- when I clearly have not  Somehting in the transfer is making iPhoto think that.


    I guess I fear upgrading and discovering the file is corrupted -- even thought it has been backed-up.



  • Linc Davis Level 10 (184,625 points)

    This is why I tell people not to trust a TC as their only backup. Nothing should be trusted as an only backup.


    If you haven't already done so, restart the TC and try again. Also try restoring from an older snapshot. If you can't, you have a serious problem.


    Try to copy the iPhoto library from a snapshot to the external drive in the Finder. That's not something you should ever do ordinarily, but in this situation you have no other choice. If you're successful, the files will need to be cleaned up. Check that the copy is readable in iPhoto (you may not be able to modify it.)


    If you don't get this far, STOP. You're in a data-rescue emergency and you need help beyond what I can provide.


    Otherwise, hold down the option key and select Verify Backups from the Time Machine menu in the menu bar. You may get a message like this:


    "Time Machine completed a verification of your backups. To improve reliability, Time Machine must create a new backup for you."


    Confirm. Your backups will be erased.


    It's also possible that the backup will be repaired without being erased. In that case, try again to restore in the usual way.


    At this point, you have two choices:


    1. (Recommended) Take the TC to an electronics recycler. Buy at least two more external hard drives and use both of them for backup from now on.


    2. Keep using the TC, and buy at least one more external drive. Use both devices for backup.

  • LousyFool Level 4 (2,645 points)

    giantELF wrote:


    I guess I fear upgrading and discovering the file is corrupted...


    As you certainly know, an iPhoto Library is a package of many files, even if there are only a few photos inside. You have tons of photos, and who knows how many events, regular and smart albums, maybe incl faces and places. With that many files in a single package and a complex structure the risk of "corruption" increases naturally.


    First see that you get your library restored from the backup, then see if you can access it with either your current or a new iPhoto version. If that won't work, I bet your photos are still not lost, though recovery will take you quite a bit of time and patience.


    Then again, if you ask me you should split it into several smaller libraries, e.g. by year, or by theme, or whatever fits your needs best. I'd recommend to have them not much larger than 30GB each, then they're fairly easy to be handled, both for backups as well as when changing drives.

    Hint: I don't have iPhoto itself in my dock, but "iPhoto Buddy", a neat little app that makes life with multiple libraries much easier, IMHO.


    But first step first: Get your library back. And good luck with that.