So last night my wifes laptop died big time. I could only boot up in safe mode and clearing pram / smc wasn't helping so I decided to wipe the hard drive and install Mountain Lion. I booted it in safe mode and copied any important files over. Then I wiped the drive and installed ML, which has now fixed the problem.

Only I made a mistake, the one thing I forgot to copy was the iPhoto library, which had all of our photos for the past 2 years on it. And it wasn't backed up.

Any ideas on recovery methods?

  • First and foremost, turn the laptop off and don't boot it up. Every time you use that HD from now on, you lose bits of data that were on it before. Ideally you want to attach the laptop to another mac in target disk mode, and take an entire image copy of it - then work on the copy. This will avoid any further loss than has already taken place. I'm afraid I can't recommend any specific file recovery tools so this is just a comment not an answer.
    – Caesium
    Aug 3 '12 at 1:41

Okay, so I think I've solved the problem and thought I'd post this up just in case anyone runs into similar issues...

I've downloaded a program Data Rescue 3, and I'm scanning the drive for deleted files. The program seems easy to use although I found that if you want to scan your internal drive (as in my case), you'll need to have another external drive plugged in as the software won't let you restore to the same drive you're recovering from.

When you run the software, select your internal drive to scan off then select the deleted files scan. When prompted, select your external drive to work off.

I'll post my results, success or failure, in the comments soon.

Screenshot of results:enter image description here

  • It worked... sort of. I've managed to recover what appears to be every photo that's ever been on this computer, unfortunately they all have generic names and theres multiple copies of each one so it's hard to know what to restore. I'll edit this answer to add a screenshot.
    – JamiePatt
    Aug 3 '12 at 6:38
  • You found the tool that most people should use for this task. Nice job documenting how it works.
    – bmike
    Apr 30 '14 at 16:36

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