Working well

So last week the hard drive on my iMac stopped working. I had to migrate the data off the defunct drive, fix it, format it and migrate the data back again.

Well having now used it for a few days it appears to be working fine, I think it might be working even better than it was before.

However as with any drive, I will be making a regular backup of the data.

Just in case.

Really?

So last week the hard drive on my iMac stopped working. I had tried to repair the drive and reinstall Mac OS X. In the end I bought a new external hard drive and decided a new approach and in my last blog post I discussed how I was using the migration assistant to copy files and settings from the defunct drive to the new external drive, and how I had to wait….

Having left my iMac overnight I came down the following morning, slightly apprehensive I looked in on the iMac, pressed the space bar, and I was rather downhearted to see the prohibitory symbol.

Mac prohibitory symbol

Oh no, this reminded me of 2017 when the fusion drive had failed.

It looked like the whole process hadn’t worked.

So I went to make coffee, but when I came back it had gone and I saw the Migration Assistant back in full flow finalising the migration. Maybe it had worked.

Once the migration process had finished I rebooted the iMac using the external drive and everything was working now.

Well not quite, though all my data was on the external hard drive, the settings needed to be updated and various applications needed passwords and all manner of things.

So my plan for the day was to work from the external hard drive and then later reformat the iMac hard drive and migrate the data back.

To be honest I got so fed up with the spinning beachball that I started the Migration Assistant just before lunch. I took the decision not to migrate some of the user accounts, as yes I wanted to retain the data, but didn’t need it on the main machine.

So I formatted the internal iMac fusion drive, checked the health of the drive and installed a fresh copy of OS X on there. I then started the Migration Assistant, taking the data and settings from the external drive and putting it back on the internal drive.

What was interesting was how much faster this process was from external hard drive to the internal drive compared to the other way round.

It was also interesting to note that once I had completed the migration, that unlike working from the external drive, as well as no spinning beachballs, most things were working just as they were before the crash.

So, so far, all seems to be working fine.

So I waited….

So last week the hard drive on my iMac stopped working. I had tried to repair the drive and reinstall Mac OS X. In the end I bought a new external hard drive and decided a new approach.

I took the decision that I would install Mac OS X on the external drive and then from there retrieve the files from the iMac hard drive.

I could then either reformat the iMac HDD and reinstall OS X or use the external drive as the main drive. Less keen on the latter option as the drive would be significantly slower than the fusion drive on the iMac.

I am hoping that it is a software issue with the drive and not a physical problem. Regardless I did want to take off the data and try a fresh install.

If that didn’t work, then it might be a trip to the Apple Genius Bar, but I didn’t fancy spending £300 on a replacement fusion drive, especially as the computer is now eight years old and having done this already before.

So I connected the drive to the iMac by the included USB-C to USB 3.0 cable and started the iMac off in recovery mode. I did try and install OS X onto the drive, but that wasn’t going to work as the default file structure on the drive when it shipped was FAT. So I started Disk Utility and formatted the drive to APFS ready for installing Mac OS X. This all worked and went to install OS X. 

This also worked and I was feeling quite pleased, however the real challenge was going to be was moving the data and documents over from the iMac hard drive to the external drive.

However I had forgotten about the Migration Assistant, a tool I had never used. Usually when I buy a new Mac I like to start from scratch and only install the apps I know I am going to use.

However this time I thought the Migration Assistant would be a better choice.

So I said yes in the OS X install screen and selected the internal iMac drive and selected all the files I wanted migrated and then waited….

As I was told it was going to take fifteen hours…

So I waited…

What should I do?

I started thinking about what I should do with my iMac now that it wouldn’t start and I couldn’t reinstall OS X onto it.

I knew I could copy files off it, so thought about whether I should start that. However that would mean using multiple drives and using another Mac. I knew that this would take time, as moving files from one mobile drive (well the iMac in disk mode) to another takes much longer than moving them from the internal HDD to an external HDD. The Mac mini I was using to connect to the iMac only had a small SDD so wasn’t an option.

In the end I decided that I would buy a new external hard drive. 

I went with the LaCie STHG4000400 External Hard Disk Drive. I went with the 4TB version in silver.

Though I went with the USB-C interface, I knew that included was a UBS-C to USB 3.0 cable I could use with the iMac.

Having ordered that with next day delivery I turned the iMac off and left it alone.

Failure to install

Yesterday I tried to reinstall Mac OS X on my iMac which had failed to start. As I was ill I actually didn’t get back to the computer until this morning.

Alas the install process was still on the progress bar, which I knew wasn’t quite right.

Well I tried again to reinstall Mac OS X on the iMac which failed again.

I then put the iMac into disk mode and using another Mac viewed the drive, and I could see the files and documents.

I actually wasn’t too concerned about loss of data, as most of my working files are in the cloud in Dropbox and OneDrive, whilst all my images are currently backed up to Amazon Drive, as well as physical storage.

I suspected there might be a few files that I only had a single copy of, so decided not to reformat the drive and install a fresh copy of OS X.

Still feeling ill, I turned it off and went back to bed to watch Netflix.

Mac Fusion Drive failed again…

Well it had to happen didn’t it with my luck with the hard drive on my iMac.

The computer had slept the night before and I had woken up not very well so didn’t go to the computer in the morning. Though I was off work sick, I did need to start a Zoom meeting for an external consultant, but when I went to the computer pressing the space bar didn’t wake the computer.

I pressed the power button, counted to ten and pressed the power button again.

In the meantime I started Zoom on the iPad so I could do that before focusing on the iMac.

I was slightly annoyed that the iMac was now stuck on the Apple logo and progress bar.

Hmmm

Quick Google search, said to start in safe mode and identify the issue.

So turned the iMac off and attempted to restart it in Safe Mode.

Well that didn’t work.

So then tried Recovery Mode to repair the disk using Disk Utility. This did launch successfully, which was slightly reassuring that maybe it wasn’t a physical problem with the disk, but a software issue with the disk.

I ran Disk Utility, that indicated a few errors, so decided to reinstall Mac OS on the drive. I started this and left it to it.

Top Ten Blog Posts 2018

Over the last twelve months I have published 19 posts.

The post at number ten was from ten years ago, and contained a (now deleted) YouTube video on the new Skyfire browser for your Windows smartphone or PDA. Skyfire discontinued its Skyfire Web Browser in 2014.

The post at nine was now a rather dated post from ten years ago about how Scrabble’s owners were going to sue Scrabulous.

The eight most popular post was another ten year old post which was about when Apple was offering some free TV shows on iTunes.

The seventh post was from 2012 when my HP Photosmart printer died. My printer is dead! was a sorry tale about how replacing the ink cartridges on the HP B110a resulted it in destroying the print head.

The post at number six was Comic Book Fonts which was about the amazing comic book fonts from Comic Book Fonts.

The post at number five was wondering Where are my Comic Life Styles? I found them.

The fourth most popular post was about the free wifi (or lack of) on my holiday, Haven no wifi.

Polaroid Pogo printer

The post at three was about Dusting off the Pogo my old Polaroid Bluetooth pocket printer. Still going strong.

The second post was about when my iMac Fusion Drive Failed and had to have it replaced.

So the most popular post on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars, Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then.

Cadbury Twirl Bites QR Code

Tech Stuff: Top Ten Blog Posts of 2017

Over the last twelve months I have published 26 posts, many of these were about my return to fibre. So it is nice to see that the tenth most popular post on the blog this year was from nearly a year ago.  We will have fibre in “12 months”!  I said back then that according to BT Openreach we would have fibre within twelve months, I was slightly sceptical, but nine months after publishing that post I did get fibre.

new fibre cabinet 25

The ninth post was about when my iMac Fusion Drive Failed and had to have it replaced.

The post at number eight was another post about my fibre journey, Still checking… was when the cabinet was activated, but alas wasn’t accepting orders.

The seventh post was from 2012 when my HP Photosmart printer died. My printer is dead! was a sorry tale about how replacing the ink cartridges on the HP B110a resulted it in destroying the print head.

The post at six was about  Dusting off the Pogo my old Polaroid Bluetooth pocket printer. Still going strong.

Polaroid Pogo printer

The fifth post was how I don’t like BT FON which was originally published in 2011.

The post at number four was wondering Where are my Comic Life Styles? I found them.

The third most popular post was about the free wifi (or lack of) on my holiday, Haven no wifi

The post at number two was Comic Book Fonts which was about the amazing comic book fonts from Comic Book Fonts.

So the most popular post on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars,  Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then.

Cadbury Twirl Bites QR Code

Not updating yet…

high sierra

So Apple have released their latest operating system, well actually they did it a few weeks ago.

I still have yet to update my iMac (and my MacBook) to the new operating system. The main reason is not that I really like Sierra and don’t want the new features of High Sierra. Nor is it because I have really slow internet and it would take days to download the update, on the contracts, now I have fibre, my download speeds are respectable and it now takes minutes rather than hours or days to download large updates, such an operating system upgrade. It’s just that I have had my fingers burnt before when applications I use on a regular basis suddenly stop working on the new operating system.

The main culprit for my is usually Adobe’s Creative Cloud, however I am hoping now that they have moved to a subscription model that my regular Apps will be updated automatically and quickly. I also heard people were having problems with Microsoft Office, but I have also heard that Microsoft have released updates for these programs as well.

Sometimes it is the smaller software houses and struggle, but part of the issue is me! If a piece of software is working for me, and there is an application upgrade, I really need to justify paying for the upgrade.

So the following packages stopped working for me in the past following operating system upgrades, Screenflow and Parallels. So if I upgrade the operating system, which is free, I then need to spend real money upgrading certain applications. I am expecting Comic Life 2 to stop working with this upgrade, so then needing to upgrade to Comic Life 3.

So having waited a few weeks I think I may do the upgrade soon.

Fusion Drive Failed





Sometimes Apple technology impresses me with it’s reliability and stability and then sometimes it doesn’t…

I have a 2006 Intel iMac, one of their early Intel models and the 250GB HDD is working well today as it did when I first got it. My experiences with other iMacs that I have used at work have been equally impressive. I once did though experience hard drive failure on one of my PowerBooks, but that was because I dropped it….

However when it comes to my home 27” iMacs I have been less lucky.

iMac

My original 2009 27” iMac hard drive failed and was replaced by Applecare, only to fail again a few years later. With this failure I ignored the drive and replaced it with an external drive. Eventually the whole system failed.

My new 27” iMac which I got in late 2014 came with a 3TB Fusion Drive. Fusion Drive is Apple’s name for a hybrid drive, which combines a hard disk drive with a NAND flash storage (solid-state drive of 24 GB or more) and presents it as a single Core Storage managed logical volume with the space of both drives combined.

Last month I came to my iMac I found the prohibitory symbol.

Mac prohibitory symbol

When you see a circle with a slash symbol instead of the Apple logo, it means your Mac couldn’t find a valid System Folder to start up from.

I did try reinstalling OS X by using OS X Recovery, but that failed…

Checking my backups I realised that there were some files missing from the back up disks, so using target disk mode (and another Mac) I attempted to recover the files from the failing hard drive. I managed to get some, but unfortunately I couldn’t get them all.

I was thinking of using DiskWarrior (which had helped with my previous iMac hard drive problems, however version 4 which I have is not compatible with OS Sierra. After a while though it became impossible to mount the drive using target disk mode. Disk Utility also failed to do anything except spin the beachball.

The other symptom I saw was the separation of the SSD from the Fusion Drive, this was not good news.

Taking the iMac to the Genius Bar, they were unable to enter diagnostic mode and using a network startup drive, were able to check that the iMac was working fine, and that the problem was with the Fusion Drive.

I had considered using a data recovery firm, but in the end with the majority of the data in my backups I let the Genius Bar attempt to re-build the Fusion Drive, which didn’t work, so they had to replace the drive with a new one.

The next step is to re-build the iMac from scratch, which is nice to do now and again, but is a bit if pain if you have really slow broadband. Really looking forward to getting fibre back in the next two months!

I know I have some missing data, but I think I have the important stuff. One thing I am now considering is getting some cloud based backup which has got a lot cheaper since I last checked it out.

I am slightly disappointed that the Fusion Drive failed after just over two years. For a variety of reasons I didn’t have AppleCare with this iMac, and it is something I will certainly consider for future iMac purchases.