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Question: How to recover data from Time Machine

I have a late 2011 iMac with an internal drive running 10.6. I also have an external drive that holds my Time Machine backup data plus a small partition with OS 10.7. For the last 3-4 years I have been running the iMac off an external Thunderbolt drive running 10.13. Recently that drive crashed totally. I recently installed another external drive in place of the dead one, put OS 10.11 on it and moved my data and applications to the new external drive from the backup drive. What got moved, however, was not the recent data and apps but data and apps dating from 2014 on the old internal drive when I moved daily work to the external 10.13 drive. Strangely, if I open the old internal drive showing on my 10.11, that drive shows the former current app list and moreover I am able to open those more recent apps, no of which showed up in the migration. However, in every case each app can be opened as a first time opening and asks for the original password. All those passwords I had placed in DevonThink, but now when I open that app, it is empty. My question is how can I retrieve apps and files that were omitted in the recovery that date from 2015-2018 and vanished in that dead drive. The data are in the Time Machine backup. There should be some way to access them. Thanks for any ideas or suggestions.

Time Machine recovery

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Since you can see the Time Machine backup on the 10.11 drive, try running Setup Assistant again to (hopefully) transfer the data to the 10.11 drive.


Setup Assistant – How to re-run

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Mar 11, 2018 1:40 PM in response to Eric Root In response to Eric Root

Thanks for the resource listing. As I tried to discover what has happened, looking at my original query, I discovered that the current Time Machine data was migrated not to the new external drive running on 10.11 but instead was put on the old internal drive running on 10.6. Unfortunately, that is a 500 GB drive and now has only 9GB available, which is not going to manage any of the new OS's.

I think the problem occurred because the onscreen instructions kept referring to "This Mac" when it was not clear what Mac they were referring to. Now the desktop that shows up on the old internal drive looks exactly like the desktop on the 10.13 drive that crashed. In turn the desktop on the new external drive running 10.11 looks exactly like the desktop that was on the old internal drive running 10.6. So the OS's on the two drives are exactly where they are supposed to be, but the applications and folders that were paired with these OS's have been reversed. Any ideas on how this situation could be reversed?

Mar 11, 2018 1:40 PM

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Mar 12, 2018 10:28 AM in response to William Mcewen In response to William Mcewen

You are welcome. If you boot off your main drive (the external if I understand correctly) and use the Time Machine application, can you see the Time Machine backup? Can you restore data from the backup? Is the drive holding the Time Machine backup listed in System Preferences/Time Machine?

Mar 12, 2018 10:28 AM

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Mar 12, 2018 2:49 PM in response to Eric Root In response to Eric Root

Yes, Time Machine is available on the external drive and it is listed in the System Preferences. However, the only backup data accessible on Time Machine runs from Jan 28 to Mar 10 of 2018 despite Time Machine keeping backups since 2015.

To repeat, using Migration Assistant, the complete up-to-date set of applications and files was put on the internal drive instead of the external drive, and the external drive was given the applications and files that had been on the old internal drive. How this could happen is a mystery to me.

If I open Migration Assistant now and identify the Backup drive as the source of the data to be moved, I am asked which Mac do I want the data taken from, the internal iMac drive or the external drive set up running OS 10.11. This makes no sense to me.

Mar 12, 2018 2:49 PM

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Mar 14, 2018 7:17 PM in response to William Mcewen In response to William Mcewen

Since you can see the Time Machine backup on the 10.11 drive, try running Setup Assistant again to (hopefully) transfer the data to the 10.11 drive.


Setup Assistant – How to re-run

Mar 14, 2018 7:17 PM

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Question: How to recover data from Time Machine