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Daisy-chain FireWire devices in Target Disk Mode Storage Devices
This may be obvious, but I'd never thought of it before. Recently I had my G5 in Target Disk Mode, hooked up to my PowerBook, and I wanted to sync my iPod (3rd generation) with the PowerBook. However, I was flummoxed by the lack of an available FireWire port, since the only one was in use. Since FireWire devices can be daisy-chained, though, I decided to try hooking the iPod up to the other FireWire port on the G5, and lo and behold, it mounted just fine on the PowerBook.

I haven't actually tried this with any other devices, but I assume it would work just as well with external drives, cameras, etc.
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Mount and unmount FireWire drives via shell script Storage Devices
I run a couple of different backups to FireWire drives during the night, but I don't want to see the FireWire drives during the day, since they clutter my desktop and slow down Open/Save dialogs. So I created the following two scripts to automatically mount and unmount all FireWire drives, then scheduled them to run at the right times: The mount script, which I named mntfw:
system_profiler SPFireWireDataType | grep "BSD Name: disk.$" | \
sed "s/^.*: //" | (while read i; do /usr/sbin/diskutil mountDisk $i; done)
The unmount script, which I named nofw:
system_profiler SPFireWireDataType | grep "BSD Name: disk.$" | \
sed "s/^.*: //" | (while read i; do /usr/sbin/diskutil unmountDisk $i; done)
Save these somewhere (make sure to use Unix line endings), then mark them as executable with chmod a+x mntfw nofw, and you can easily run them from the Terminal.

[robg adds: These worked as described when I tested them.]
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Free up missing space on camera memory cards Storage Devices
I was perplexed to find that my new digital camera said that my 1GB Memory Stick Pro Duo was only able to hold about 60 pictures at 8.0MP resolution. Exploring the memory card via the Finder, I wasn't able to find any obvious culprit.

Then I decided to Show Hidden Files. Immediately, a folder called .Trashes made itself known. Inside that folder was a folder called 501. That folder contained all the images that I had deleted from my memory card via the Finder the last time I imported photos. I was able to delete the photos by dragging them to the Trash and then emptying it.

Moral of the story? Always delete your photos from your camera, not through the Finder.
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Recover/repair a corrupt encrypted sparse image Storage Devices
If you have lost an encrypted image, such as after a power shortage or system hang, you are probably familiar with the "corrupt image" message that displays when you try and mount the disk image. Yet you might be able to recover it. I spent some time researching how these files are created and was able to recover mine.

I posted the results on my web site.

kirkmc adds: I haven't tested this. Make sure you make a copy of the corrupted disk image before trying out the above procedure. It's worth noting that DiskWarrior can repair some corrupted disk images; I'm not sure whether it works with encrypted disk images, but when I recently reviewed the program for Macworld, I tested it on normal corrupted disk images, and it repaired all the problems I was able to create. Your mileage may, of course, vary, depending on the type of corruption.
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An AppleScript to empty one user's trash on one drive Storage Devices
I have several external hard drives connected to my iBook. One of them I use as scratch space, so I throw away lots of files on there. Since Mac OS X doesn't automatically empty the trash, the disk can get full quite fast. The problem is, I don't want to empty the trash on all of my disks - just that one. I've been cding into the trashes folder on the drive to empty it, but that's too time-consuming for general use. The command I've been using is this one:
rm -r /Volumes/Vingilot/.Trashes/510/*
Where Vingilot is the drive name, and 510 is your user number. (Every user account has a number associated with it - root is 0, and the account you make when you first start Mac OS X is 501. You can see all the numbers for your accounts in Terminal by typing ls -ln /Users.)
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Fully automated backup of Flash drives on mount Storage Devices
This was already submitted as a hint (Automated backup of flash drives), but that script wasn't quite what I needed. I have several small thumb drives which I'd like to back up, and some of them I don't need to maintain archives for; I only need a backup in case I lose the drive. Therefore I have modified the script a fair amount, and then using the hint to trigger backups on connect without launchd, create a modified version of Apple's backup script, which now enables me to do the following:
  • Add a copy of the sync script to any thumb drive I wish to keep a backup of
  • Specify in the sync script whether or not to keep an archived copy of the backup, on a per-thumb-drive basis
  • Automatically backup any number of thumb drives on any number of machines with minimal setup
The folder action script scans the root of the mounted drive for the specific backup app, and executes it if found. This is a really pain-free way to maintain constant backups of all my critical work (that resides on thumb drives). And I'm fairly certain that the backup will be OK as the script is using the rsync UN*X command with instructions to mirror the drive contents, and tar -cz to do the archive (if required).

Additionally, I was experiencing some permission problems when using the original script because the .Trashes and .Spotlight folders weren't readable by the backup script. I circumvented this problem by having two options:
  • Default is to exclude the .Spotlight and .Trashes folders from the rsync backup
  • Optionally, the script can run the backup as an administrator, which has the side effect of asking for the administrator password every time the specific thumb drive is mounted, which might be annoying or desirable, depending on the person
The modified scripts and full instructions are located here.

[robg adds: In case the above-linked post isn't available at some point in the future, I've mirrored the two scripts here on]
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Possibly format a troublesome USB drive via Terminal Storage Devices
I recently needed to format a USB hard drive to get rid of multiple partitions. Disk Utility kept crashing without finishing up its job, leaving me with an unusable disk. Multiple attempts in Disk Utility failed. To make a long story short, I'm cheap and didn't want to shell out for more software, so I tried diskutil in Terminal:
diskutil eraseDisk HFS+ newdisk disk1
Where diskutil is the program being run, eraseDisk is the operand, HFS+ is the format of the new disk, newdisk is the name of the new disk, and disk1 is the mount point for the disk to be formatted. You can easily find the mount point in Disk Utility by Control-clicking on the offending disk and picking Information from the pop-up menu, then looking at the Disk Identifier entry.

Somewhat surprisingly, diskutil worked for me where Disk Utility failed, so perhaps it will help you out with a similar troublesome disk.
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Automated backup of flash drives Storage Devices
I recently ran into a problem where I couldn't find my 512MB USB flash drive. Since I didn't regularly make backups of it, I thought I was toast. Valuable work information, portableFirefox, projects, etc., all gone. Luckily I did find it, and it prompted me to devise an easy way to back it up constantly. No way am I digging through the trash bin at 2AM ever again.

First, I installed Do Something When; it's a great little utility that has been featured before, and does exactly what its name implies. Next I set up a rule to run an AppleScript (saved as an application) whenever I mount my USB drive. All the Applescript says is:
do shell script 
  "rsync -rt /Volumes/USBdrivename/ ~/USBdrivename-Backup"
display dialog "USB drive backed up"
The word USBdrivename should be replaced with the name of your USB drive (and remember to quote it if it includes spaces). Copy and paste into Script Editor, modify to suit your needs, and save it as an application. I am not an AppleScript expert, and I'm sure this can be done better, but it was simple and works for me.

I had thought about changing the dialog to ask which way to sync (USB » Mac or Mac » USB), but this works so I left it. Now, every time I plug in my USB drive, the contents are backed up -- "just in case." It also benefits me in those times when I leave the drive at home.
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One possible fix for a non-visible external hard drive Storage Devices
I completely lost my LaCie hard drive last night. It wasn't appearing on the desktop, and when I checked in System Profiler, it wasn't appearing either. After the tightening in my chest and tingling sensation went from my arm, I found an article which suggested I unplug the drive and zap the PRAM, and then once it was rebooted, reconnect the drive. I tried this, but it didn't work.

Then I read that I should unplug the drive, turn off and unplug the computer, leave it for 10 minutes, then turn the computer back on and reconnect the drive. I tried this for 30 minutes, and still nothing. So I turned it all off and unplugged it at the wall and went to bed, thinking I had lost all the work which was on my storage device. When I woke up, I plugged the computer back in with the drive still connected to the computer, and amazingly, there it was on the desktop!

Now, the desktop did have problems (the menubar icons were missing from the top right corner of the screen, and everything was running strangely), but once I had unmounted the drive properly and done a restart and connected the drive again, it all worked fine.

Don't give up. Try my approach if you lose your drive. Sleep on it!

[robg adds: Offered as One Last Hope for those who may have a hard drive that seems beyond recovery...and yet another great reason to ask yourself that key question: "Have I backed up lately?"]
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10.4: Use Parallels for write access to NTFS devices Storage Devices
This is probably obvious to many, but it might be useful anyway: You can use a Windows XP installation in Parallels Desktop VM to get around the read-only limitation of Mac OS X's NTFS file system support.

I had to copy some data from my Mac to an external portable hard disk which is usually used on a Windows machine, and which is formatted using the NTFS filesystem. Mac OS X has read-only NTFS support, so copying from the disk to my Mac is not a problem, but writing is not possible.

Using my Windows XP installation in Parallels VM and its shared folder support, I was able to copy my data from the Mac to the disk. The hard disk was connected via USB and thus visible to Windows in Parallels. It's not as fast as it could be, but at least I was able to transfer my data.
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