Here's the situation. I have a friend's MacBook Early 2008.

The hard drive's bad - OS X Leopard isn't booting up. It's giving me the prohibitory sign. I took the MacBook to the Apple store's Genius Bar and one of their higher level tech guys used one of their triage drives to verify that it was a physical problem with the hard drive. However, the hard drive still mounts and can be viewed in the triage bootup's desktop.

I want to be able to get that user's profile off the drive before the drive dies. He said that the fact that even if the drive's bad but it's mountable indicates it's possible to recover data, but obviously no guarantees.

He said it's as simple as going into \rootlevelofharddrive\Users(usernamehere) and copying it, but I'm wondering what needs to be done AFTER I reinstall the OS. He said that as long as I make the EXACT same username that I should have no problems, but the standard rule of IT always means that something will hit the fan. Obviously I need to make a separate user to do this so no files are open as the user, but is it really as easy as copying over the user's profile after creating it?

I'm going to first try to image the bad hard drive with Carbon Copy Cloner, which would make this an absolute piece of cake (image the bad drive, get a new one, reimage), but if that doesn't work I will have to do a fresh OS X install.

Please let me know what my options are, thank you!


Actually, what I'd do is install OS X on a new HD, and then use the Migration Assistant to tranfer the user account (it'll copy the account info from the user database, as well as the home folder). Migration Assistant can be run either during the initial setup (it's an option on one of the screens its goes through on a newly-installed OS X), or you can run it later from /Applications/Utilities/Migration Assistant.app.

Alternately, you could set up the new install with a temporary user account, then copy /rootlevelofharddrive/Users/username to /Users/username, then create a new account with the same short name and it'll "take over" the existing home folder.


If the clone fails and you have to do a fresh install, in theory all you should need to do is create the new user, then copy the profile folder from the old drive onto the new one and your work should be done. Obviously you'll need to reinstall applications if you do a clean install, but if the profile and data is the important part, you should be covered.

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