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.

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.

Design Changes in OS X Yosemite

Apple have released a video demonstrating the new design features of OS X Yosemite.

The new OS X, currently in beta, has a very similar look to iOS 7, it is flatter, cleaner and looks very different to previous versions of OS X.

Climbing the mountain to see the lion

OS X Mountain Lion

Today sees the release of the next incarnation of the Mac operating system, OS X, Mountain Lion 10.8. It was announced back in February and back then I wrote my initial thoughts based on the announcement. As when Snow Leopard replaces Leopard, Mountain Lion in many ways is an incremental update to Lion.

OS X Mountain Lion is the latest release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system. Mountain Lion includes over 200 new features to update your Mac into the best computing experience yet. With the new Messages app, you can send text, photos, videos, contacts, web links and documents to anyone using another Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch — you can even start a conversation on one device and continue it on another. The new Share button makes it easy to share files, web pages, photos and videos, as well as tweet straight from the app you’re using. With the Reminders app, you can create to-do lists and alerts that appear in the new Notification Center. With Notes, you can write down all your ideas and even speak your words with Voice Dictation. Play head-to-head games on your Mac with friends on their Macs or iOS devices with Game Center. And with iCloud built in, it’s simple to keep all your mail, contacts, calendars, reminders, notes, to-do lists, music, photos, iWork files, PDFs and more up to date across all your devices.

There are some interesting new features, there is the continued iOSiffication and deeper intergration with iOS devices. Speech to text is now built into the OS, though as with most speech to text you will need a quiet room and I can’t see myself talking to my computer in the office, unless I can shut the door and have the office to myself.

There is also notifications, which if you have been using Growl will realise has a similar functionality, you can configure it to let you know about Twitter responses, and other messages from various applications.

Notifications Center

Finally Safari does what Chrome does and you can use the address field to either enter an URL or a search term. Countless times as I move between Chrome and Safari I have got annoyed with Safari as I type in a search term, only to have a ‘doh’ moment as I realise I have typed it into the address field and not the search. Combining the two has a few issues (for example if you want to search on an URL and not actually go there), but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in my opinion.

One aspect of Chrome I like (especially since I got the Nexus 7) is the syncing of tabs and history, when iOS 6 is released this will come to Safari. iCloud Tabs makes the last websites you looked at accessible on your iPhone, iPad and Mac.

I do like the Share button, this is a feature I do use on the iPad so it will be nice to have it on the desktop. However having said that, with all the Facebook issues I have read about, I won’t be integrating OS X with Facebook anytime soon (nor will I do that when iOS 6 is released. Hopefully third party apps may take advantage of sharing, and embed it into their applications. I am really thinking about Firefox and Chrome at this point.

Reminders also comes to the Mac and I am thinking I might take advantage of that as it does integrate nicely with iOS. The same has happened with Notes, though I don’t think I will be replacing that with Evernote anytime soon. I like in Evernote how I can add image and audio notes as well as text notes.

There is better iCloud integration, but it still doesn’t work as I would like it to, so I can see myself staying with Dropbox for the foreseeable future.

I am not a great user of messaging services, but I think, again with the better integration with iOS that I may take advantage of it.

One downside for me is the size of the install file, at 4.05GB this is one big download and having recently switched from FTTC back to ADSL this was a very slow download…

As I said at the beginning this is very much an incremental upgrade, so I would be really disappointed to pay £100 for this, the price though is just £13.99 which is incredibly cheap for an OS upgrade compared to what we have paid in the past. Also, as it is on the App Store means that for £13.99 you can download and install it on all the Macs you own or control.

Get OS X Mountain Lion 10.8  in the Mac App Store.