Err not really, backup often kids ;). To add it up to my recent tragic Windows 8 destroyed my OSX partitions story I actually have ordered an external hard drive but it arrived one day after my HD was messed up.

Now time for some good news: I just fully recovered my HD. I would like to thank all the help I got over here, G+, email. Really, thanks big time.

So that’s what I did (in case you are here googling about the same problem). I’m assuming that if you got that far in the internet for help, you are already as doomed as I was. So I won’t even bother with warning and re-warning you that you are better off seeking professional help.

1) 2012 is the year of the penguin, but not. But still, Linux still rocks. I have no Mac-to-Mac cable at hand so I had to resort to a rescue live CD. The party wouldn’t be complete without an OS-threesome after all.

So I first tried Ubuntu Rescue Mix but it didn’t come with the application that I was suggested to try (namely gdisk), so I used it only for diagnostic and the dump backup. In the end I downloaded GParted which comes with a nice X11 btw (though you will inevitably use the console, so don’t get pumped it up ;))

2) dd if=/dev/sda /media/usb7/sda_backup
First things first, jokes aside it’s never too late for a backup. I started with a byte backup of my 500GB. It takes time, as in, really. 30 hours later I knew there was nothing I could do to make things worse. If anything I could reverse the dd if/of order and restore my HD to the broken state I was getting familiar with. And there is nothing like Mario U to endure 30 more hours if it comes to that 😉

*) As for everyone’s suggestions I tried gdisk, but my system was too corrupted. It had no internal backup (what you get from using ‘c’ from gdisk) and the error message I got (something about overlapping partition sectors) was stopping me from doing any change in the partition and write it back. I thought it could be a conflict between the MBR Windows tried to write and the GTP created by Mac, so here for a more radical next step:

3) dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1
WARNING: This will clean up the first 512 bytes of your partition, namely the boot sector. Note, this may not be necessary, but I was already in the verge of resetting my system. I went back to gdisk to see if that worked, and in fact the MBR was gone. I quitted gdisk because it wasn’t his turn anymore. Welcome the star of the night:

4) It’s fdisk magic time 🙂 I don’t know what to say. A few [enter]s and I had my HD back up and running. This console based program (that comes with GParted, OSX, and any Linux as far as I know) is great. It prints the partition types correctly, list all the files in the Windows partition, and even allowed me to copy them out if needed. Since my Windows had nothing special I turned to the OSX partition and, although file listing isn’t supported, just asking it to fix it solved the problem. I’m not kidding, it took me less than 5 minutes.

Final considerations: I just wished the personal at AppleCare phone line could have drove me through that. They pretty much got me hopeless to the point that I didn’t even bother dropping my computer at an AppleStore.  If I had the time I would get my broken backup back (from [2]) to the laptop to see if the Apple Store crew would have fixed it :p

And that’s all. I hope this turns useful to someone. And again, thanks everyone for the help I got. Very much appreciated. And yes this post has tons of smiles. That looks like me through the entire day 😀

5 Thoughts on “Backups are overrated

  1. Pingback: I need some serious OSX help | Dalai Felinto

  2. I’m very glad you got it sorted! GParted is amazing, I always have a copy lying around.

  3. I think it’s in every real nerd bucket list to survive a full HD recovery :p To be fair I have lost so many windows partitions while installing Red Hats, Conectivas, Slackwares, … that is great to be able to give the change 😉 It’s karma balance in the big scheme of operating systems

  4. I just used the dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1

    And, now I’m lost nowhere as I am not getting anywhere with the fdisk command. Please help

    • dfelinto on January 5, 2015 at 3:42 pm said:

      Hi, I was busy in the end of last year so I left the blog a bit unattended. I hope you fixed your issue by now. In my case things simply work. I was surprised they did but, well, they did. What I can suggest is to explore the ‘Recovery Linux Discs’ a bit further. That would be my next go if my wiping out the MBR didn’t work in my case.

      In general I really recommend you to ‘play’ with fdisk to see if the problem is indeed a problematic logic partition table (which it was in my case).

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