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Old 11-26-2007, 02:09 PM
Jos Jos is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 5
Unhappy How to recover my FileVault-protected user files?

My HD crashed on 11-18. Such is life. I've got two complete backups, or at least so I thought: one from Time Machine dated 11-9, and one from SD dated somewhere in October, before migrating to Leopard. I just now discovered that neither backup system is good friends with FileVault: I did not know that with FV activated, the backup needs to be done from a different, non-FV user. I wish Apple would have been more explicit about this, when you activate FV. And I must say that TM looses much of its attractiveness with FV activated. Will SD's Leopard version tackle this one?

As my TM backup is more recent, I tried to recover from this one first. After starting up from the Leopard DVD, I selected recovery from TM in the menu. The recovery apparently went fine, with my user coming up nicely on the login menu after restarting the computer, although without my picture, a first indicator that something was wrong. After entering the password, my user wouldn't open, and after entering the Master password, I was unable to change my user password. Not nice. I rebooted again with the Leopard DVD and reset all the passwords (to blank) for Guest, my old user and Master, using the password modification tool in the menu. After restarting, I now had three users: Guest, my old user and Other... I still could not open my old user. I opened the Guest user and was able to create a new user with administration rights. From this new user, I accessed the files of my old user in the Finder, after changing the rights to Read & write for all users, folder by folder. My old user turned out to be practically empty. Actually, the TM recovered Users folder was only a few MB. I guess I won't recover much more from here even if I could eventually break into my old user.

At least I completely recovered all the applications-with-purchased-licence-codes and all other system settings outside the Users folder. I decided to go on from here, updated to 10.5.1, and then entered my .Mac account. The sync brought back iCal, Address Book, Dock, Keychain, etc. And with the recovery of my Mail accounts (all IMAP), I recovered all my e-mail of the last 10 years or so. It took almost 24 hours to get there via ADSL, but in some way I recovered many documents as e-mail attachments, because I've sent or received them at some point in time. But still, it's not the same as having them neatly organised in folders in the Finder. And of course I didn't recover them all, e.g. pictures and music files.

So, I still wanted to recover my old user from my SD backup of October. And here's what happens: when I open the SD sparse image, the Users folder is (or appears to be) empty. Still, the folder weighs some 50 GB! Tricky. So with TinkerTool, I activated view hidden files and folders, and there appeared a new sparse image: my old user. Now, when I try to open it, my password is accepted: with another password, it says wrong password. Still, the sparse image won't open with the correct password: it shows an error.

I feel like Frodo in front of the closed gate to the Mines of Moria: I'm worried about what I'll find inside, but for now the gate remains closed...

What now? Maybe I need a hacker? Where do you find these people? Or maybe it's more simple? We're talking about 10 years work or so...
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