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Hard Disk Problem

My Mac Mini started having real issues while I was burning a backup CD :-( It got stuck at 4.5%, the whole machine became unresponsive, so I eventually had to force it to restart after an hour or so. That's when the trouble started. It kept trying to boot from the CD drive. I had to keep the mouse button pressed during startup for ages (about a minute or more, by the feel of it) until it finally ejected the CD. And that's when trouble started: It kept freezing after the spinning cogwheel, right after the screen had turned blue. The internal hard drive refused to work. Disk Utility reported a damaged volume header and invalid node file. It was also unable to fix those. Uh oh.

I booted into Safe Mode, no dice. Booted into Single User Mode, ran fsck. It reported the same error but failed fixing it. UH OH. Eventually, I managed to boot from my external hard disk (good thing I'd just reformatted it and installed the Leopard seed on that) and bought Prosoft Engineering's Data Rescue II. I've been shoveling files to the external disk all night, but so far it looks like I got the important ones. I'll have to buy another hard disk later today to install a new system on. I don't want to reformat the internal drive before I know I've got all files. Only a minute ago I fired up DRII again because I'd realised I'd forgotten to copy over the Address Book and iCal data folders...

Does anybody know how something like this could happen? How can burning a CD completely trash the volume header? Did it have something to do with an almost-full hard disk?

Update: Okay, looks like I've been able to recover a good bunch. I still have to check whether all my projects still build, but a few casual checks show no missing source files, so I might have gotten away with a few scratches once again. Since I don't want to trust my data to a pre-release of Time Machine (not to mention the Leopard pre-release that goes with it), I've downloaded RsyncX to try and get a regular and hopefully reliable backup routine going.

The hardest part's been getting my E-Mails back. I recovered the "Mail" and "Mail Attachments" folder in "Library" and then just copied it back, and that gave me back the mailbox structure, but contrarily to Mail.app's assurances my messages were nowhere to be seen. So I recovered the Mail folder a second time and tried again, and this time Mail.app imported everything. Don't know what caused this hiccup, but it looks like I'll have my mail archive back, and that's good enough for me right now.

So all that's left is reinstalling some apps (in particular Transmit, Lineform, Photoshop Elements and a few others I use regularly) and to recover the licensing info... Oh yeah, and then I'll get back to my mail, so if you wrote me and you don't hear from me in the next couple of days, you may want to resend your message, it probably got lost after all.

Reader Comments: (RSS Feed)
Stephane writes:
Might be a concurrent disk access which caused the issue. It's not as if Mac OS X was free of bugs. Couldn't Disk Warrior fix the problems? BTW, nice T-Shirts at the WWDC.
Uli Kusterer replies:
I hope it was something else... my hard disk was pretty full, and while I never had anything as fatal as this, OS X never was very graceful when swap space got low, so that's my current guess. Concurrency issues would indicate a really severe problem, especially considering most modern Macs run several cores. The likelihood just increased quadfold ;-) As to Disk Warrior, their site indicated they didn't have a version for Intel Macs yet, so I looked for alternatives. I'd rather extract the data without running the risk of damaging my file system even more, so Data Rescue seemed the next best option. Also, on a more emotional level, I rvaguely emembered having read complaints about Disk Warrior once, and DRII seemed familiar (probably from ads on VT or something). Oh, and yeah, I love the shirts, too. I'm planning to make similar ones available via the Moose Spreadshirt Shop eventually, but it's a little complicated as they seem to have much stricter criteria on the dimensions of the image than my local shirt shop.
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Created: 2006-08-17 @238 Last change: 2024-04-16 @342 | Home | Admin | Edit
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