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With Mac computers, there are a few ways to recover data.
First of all, Mac computers can boot-up using a USB stick. This feature can be used to install the operating system on a USB stick to boot-up the computer later from it.
Start by taking the Mac OS installation disk that came with the computer or laptop. Then, take any USB stick with at least 16GB of memory, less than 16 GB of memory wont work. Start the computer and then hold the Option key. Choose to boot-up the computer using an installation disk. Install the operating system from the USB stick. Do not mix the operating system with the hard drive. It is easy to separate the operating system from the USB stick because the Mac OS setup shows the drive size.
It is possible to install the operating system this way, as well as with other Mac OS versions that run on PC's as well, for example, the versions iAtkos or Kalyway. This is used in the case that the Mac laptop does not start at all, and the hard drive is taken out.
Erase the hard drive first as it can then hold the Windows partition and make an extended, journaled partition. This installation process will take some time.
This time, the computer is able to boot-up from using a USB stick (preferably 16GB) and holding the Option key. The computer screen will show a Snow Leopard, Lion, or something similar.
Now, you will be able to see the hard drive in the finder section. The MacOS installation is full featured, similar to any other Mac OS, and copying data is executed the same way as usual. The MacOS is handy to use for data recovery from hard drives that are not working properly. In addition, this installation can be used with data recovery software such as R-Studio.
The second way to recover data is to use Linux distribution. The only difficulty is that Ubuntu will state that it has no permissions to view the files, but this problem is able to be fixed. To access files, you should have Ubuntu installed on your hard drive or on a USB stick. Ubuntu booted from a CD disk will not work.
Next, open the terminal. Type in the letters gksudo nautilus to get access to open the terminal. This will open up a new browser window. Actually, you will need to open two Nautilus windows, as the only way to transfer data is between two different Nautilus file managers. Otherwise, there will be problems that occur again with the file permissions. In addition, it seems someone was trying to get around changing the file permissions with Ubuntu, but this turned out to be completely unnecessary.
Start by opening up one window to read the data. For example, to navigate to the Documents folder. Then, open up another window for data writing, to use with a USB stick, for instance.
Open two nautilus windows and then copy between them, if you need to read and write files, use the Mac file system to FAT32, for example.
The third way to recover data is with Windows, install the Mac Drive. This program works perfectly and enables you to read and write to any Mac file system. The small icon can be seen in the systray below, and it instantly recognizes any hard drive connected with the HFS file system, for instance, and makes it look like a Windows file system.
The fourth way to recover data does not use an operating system installation, but it does use Windows and R-Studio. R-Studio will recognize a Mac hard drive that is connected, even if Windows is not able to view the files.
Below are a few images of the R-Studio program. It has proven to do a great job in terms of file recovery issues.
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Me holding a laptop hard drive