I need to be able to create a copy or backup of a hard drive that I have connected via USB -> SATA. The hard drive is from a MacBook Pro and it appears to be fully encrypted (disk management says the drive is empty) although I could be wrong.

Before sending the laptop back to Apple I wanted to back the data up in case they wipe it. How do I do this as I cannot assign a drive letter to it without formatting it or converting it?

The problem with the laptop is that it refuses to turn on when the power button is pressed. I tried resetting the SMC to no avail and I cannot seem to get the battery out of the laptop because the of the screw driver that is required (3 points like shaped like a Y) which I do not have. So I am going to back up the data before sending it back to Apple.

  • Uhm... I can assign drive letters to (corrupted) drives/partitions, and all it does is ask me to initialise the partition when I try to access it through Explorer. I'm not sure about imaging utilities. If the partition table is encrypted though... you may have more luck with a Linux LiveCD and dd (/dev/sd<letter>)? – Bob May 14 '12 at 12:44
  • If I initialise it will that cause the drive to be unbootable? The only option I have to me in disk management is to convert it to dynamic disk. – qroberts May 14 '12 at 12:46
  • Don't initialise it if you expect to keep the data. For a backup image of a whole drive I'd answer with use Linux/dd, but I can't be bothered with typing a full answer on a phone. – Bob May 14 '12 at 12:54
  • Initialising is the same terminology for formatting correct? – qroberts May 14 '12 at 12:55
  • Formatting is the creation of a file system. Initialisation, I believe, is the creation of a partition table. Both would be data destructive. – Bob May 14 '12 at 12:57

Assuming the drive is FileVault encrypted (the Mac drive encryption standard), you can get data off of it, but you'll need another Mac. If you can swing that, this walkthrough should get you there.

If you don't have access to another mac, or are OK just keeping an image and pushing it back to the drive when (if?) Apple fixes your old computer, do what @Bob suggests and take an image using dd. If you do that, I'd suggest piping dd trough gzip or something similar to reduce the size of the created image file.

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