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Punkyclown's picture
Joined: 2017 Nov 9
Deleting user after backing up data to time machine

Hi all, I am trying to reclaim disk space off of an iMac 27 inch running El Capitan. My daughter finished college
got a job and moved out. I have been sharing the computer with her, but the 320 mg hard drive only has
25 mgs free. So I would like to back up her data up to Time Machine and remove here from the computer. Can
I than go back at some time and recover her to that machine or an other?
Thanks for the help.
Brad Hansen


sfp1954's picture
Joined: 2013 Dec 29

I would get a 80 or 160GB 2.5" SATA hard drive and a SATA/USB 2.0 case (about $8 for the case) and copy her user folder to it. A 32 or 64GB USB stick would be even safer if her data will all fit on it.

24bit's picture
Joined: 2010 Nov 19

Good thought.
In case its possible to access the iMac´s HDD fairly easy, you might be better off to move the 320GB to an external housing (so your iMac will still boot from it) and fetch a new storage for the iMac - SSD if you can afford it - to set up the OS of your choice from scratch.

sfp1954's picture
Joined: 2013 Dec 29

I wouldn't call it easy. You need to use suction cups to yank off the front glass (which is held on by magnets). Then carefully remove the the LCD and it's wires. That will get you to the HD. Which usually needs to be replaced by a larger drive of the same make and model. Usually a Western Digital in that time frame. Not every SATA drive will work because of the way the heat sensors are configured.

madalynmcworm's picture
Joined: 2017 Mar 28

This is correct. Did a 2011 iMac SSD upgrade. Had to get a frame for it. Had to get a temp sensor kit (which will work on other drives as well, owc sells them. Managed to break off _A_ pin on the LCD panel replacing the cable. Ended up having to pay an authorized retail for a part ($12) and an hour to replace the ribbon cable and LCD, etc.

You also should use gloves, because dust and finger prints on the LCD is annoying.

davisdelo's picture
Joined: 2016 Oct 31

A simple external drive to copy her user folder too is the easiest method. TIme Machine gives you the nice ability to use the Migration Assistant, but man is it slow. Chances are if she gets a new machine she'll have used it and setup a User on it before you get around to giving her the data back anyways, in which case being able to simply plug in a drive and copy the files seems like the most straight forward approach.

About upgrading your 27", I've had great success with the 3.5" Seagate hybrid drives. You can get a 1TB for about $75. You can take it a step further and put a 120GB or 256GB ssd (another ~$75) in place of the optical drive to boot and run apps from, then you're machine will feel new again.

Getting all the heat sensors put back correctly is important though. If you don't your fans will run erratically or too fast/slow.