Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My hard drive is on its way out. The computer -- 10 yr old iMac with 10.3 -- will not boot except into single user mode (I don't have the installation disk). I can navigate around fine, all my data are present, now I just need to get it all off.

What's the easiest way to do this? My computer cannot connect to the internet, but has a USB and a CD-R drive. I have a newer computer that I may be able to connect it to, but the newer computer is a macBook pro and does not have FireWire. [edit: non-retina macBook pros do have a FireWire port after all].

I have no interest in keeping the computer or hard-drive, just want to move everything off.

share|improve this question has instructions for mounting a USB drive in single user mode, but it probably won't work in 10.3 (which didn't have launchd). – user495470 Sep 21 '13 at 8:46
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Get a Thunderbolt to FireWire adapter for the MBP. Connect them with the old one turned off and then start it up in FireWire target disk mode by holding T during startup.

Other variations in configurations are discussed here...

Option 2: connect with an Ethernet cable and enable ssh per this, then use scp to copy files. (This would require a Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter.)

share|improve this answer
First option sounds like the best, but unfortunately the only Thunderbolt-to-FireWire adapter is for FireWire 800 -- my iMac only has FireWire 400. Is there a way to use just the ethernet cord, or do I need the Thunderbolt-ethernet adapter? – Amyunimus Sep 21 '13 at 22:07
I didn't know if your MBP has Ethernet port but if so, you don't need the adapter. File sharing might be the way to go. Option 3 would be get a cheap USB disk enclosure, which I usually use to clone old hard drives. That is pricier and requires opening up the old computer, so more work but might be easiest in the long run. – beroe Sep 21 '13 at 22:18
Is file sharing possible without using systemsetup or launchctl, which aren't available on my computer? – Amyunimus Sep 21 '13 at 22:54
Ended up getting a FireWire 400 to FireWire 800 adapter and connected it to my MPB. Working fine. Thanks! – Amyunimus Sep 26 '13 at 0:59
Yay! That is great. – beroe Sep 26 '13 at 1:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .