Data Recovery From a Dead Mac Hard Drive

by Marshal M. Rosenthal

An internal Mac hard drive can go "dead" when its own operating system no longer integrates with the OS X operating system driving the computer. Recover data from a dead internal Mac hard drive by using a built-in utility to connect it directly to another Mac. The procedure, called "Target Mode," requires that both Macs have a Firewire port . A Firewire cable from a computer store will also be needed.

1

Remove all cables from the Mac that has the dead hard drive. Place the Mac next to a second Mac. Reattach the power cable and the keyboard to the Mac that has the dead hard drive. Plug the power cable into an wall socket.

2

Turn on the second Mac. Wait for the desktop to appear on the screen. Connect an end of the Firewire cable to the Firewire input on the back of each Mac.

3

Press and hold down the "T" key on the keyboard of the Mac that has the dead hard drive. Press the power button momentarily to turn the Mac on while still holding down the "T" key.

4

Release the "T" key when an icon of the dead hard drive appears on the desktop of the second Mac.

5

Double-click the icon of the dead hard drive to open its window. Drag any or all of the data out of the window onto the desktop. Wait as a copy progress bar appears, fills in from left to right and then disappears---this could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, depending upon the amount of data that is being taken off the dead hard drive.

6

Drag the icon of the dead hard drive to the trash once the copy progress bar has disappeared. Press and hold down the power button on the Mac that has the dead hard drive until you hear it shut itself off---this will only take a few seconds.

7

Disconnect the Firewire cables from both Macs. Remove the keyboard and power cables from the Mac that has the dead hard drive. Place the Mac back in its original position and reattach the cables.

Warning

  • close A Firewire 400-800 adapter may needed if one of the Macs only has a Firewire 800 input.

Items you will need

About the Author

Marshal M. Rosenthal is a technology maven with more than 15 years of editorial experience. A graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography with a Bachelor of Arts in photographic arts, his editorial work has appeared both domestically as well as internationally in publications such as "Home Theater," "Electronic House," "eGear," "Computer and Video Games" and "Digitrends."

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