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.