Sorry No Images

I’m currently having problems with my Mac and can’t post any images. Hopefully, I will have this resolved soon. In case you’re curious, the problems seemed to start last year when I tried to back up my hard drive. Each time I hooked up a disk drive it would be formatted by the Mac ready for the backup. But then when Time Machine tried to write to the disk it would report there was no space on the drive. The disk then became unreadable and none of my PC or Mac Utilities could repair the damage.

I trashed three new disk drives before I had the idea of formatting the disk using my MacBook to format a disk first. That seemed to resolve the issue and Time Machine was able to do its thing.

During all this, I decided to partition my hard drive to help organise my data better. I split the drive into two partitions; one of 800Gb containing my applications and the other was 2.2Gb where I would hold data. Halfway through the partitioning process the Mac crashed and on restarting I could only see the 800Gb partition. The rest of the space was still there but couldn’t be accessed at all.

After a lot of support from Apple over a few months, the only option was to format the hard drive, but even that was problematic. Eventually, the drive was wiped, and the backup from Time Machine started. Except now the backup wouldn’t install and failed repeatedly at different points. We then tried installing just the operating system but that also failed several times. In the end, the Mac has gone to an Apple repairer.

I’m sure when I get it back and all will be well, but it’s the inconvenience and wasted time. It also really makes you question your backup strategy for images and Lightroom.

21 thoughts on “Sorry No Images

  1. What a nightmare! I feel your pain.

    My backup strategy is to clone my Mac HD and an external drive with my photos. I use Carbon Copy Cloner. You can set a schedule (e.g., hours, daily, monthly, etc.). Quarterly I clone everything onto two sets additional external drives that I store offsite in a safe deposit box at a bank. (One set is for Q1 and Q3, and the other for Q2 and Q4.)

    I also have TimeMachine running to back up my Mac HD (OS, programs, and personal files).

    Consequently, in the end I have at least two backups per day.

    1. I now have my Mac back and am rebuilding the hard drive the applications with new downloads. I’m going to recover a few key files from the Time Machine backup such as my Lightroom Catalogue – I would hate to lose all that work. Thanks for the suggestion about Carbon Copy. I had forgotten about that application and it solves a big problem for me. How do I backup my main photo library from the Drobo unit. Carbon Copy seems perfect. Thanks

  2. Hi Robin,

    I have noticed issues with ‘Disk Utility’ in Sierra and High Sierra and have had similar problems trying to reformat a drive back from a few partitions to one or even 2, the smallest one seems to throw up a ‘Can’t format error’, or as you say it doesn’t ‘see’ the drive’s partition. Then I have resorted to re-formatting the drive using my Mac laptop which I still have an older version of ‘Disk Utility’ on and that seems to work fine. My back-up strategy is a Time machine backup plus I back up to once a week or so to 2 other separate drives (rotating them in turn) using ‘Carbon Copy Cloner’ which is a fantastic piece of software ( If you haven’t used it I find it easier for re-installing a whole (or part) system than TM and it’s a lot quicker. It has saved my bacon on a few occasions! Also having a bootable back-up means you can revert to that in an emergency to get work done and sort out the problem later. I back-up before doing any updates and keep the cloned system and data at least till I know it’s all working properly. I also keep a ”clean install’ set up as I like it as once again it’s quicker to install than a download online.

    By the way did you really mean a partition of 800Gb and one of 2.2Gb as 2.2 doesn’t sound like very much! If your Mac has a Fusion drive it effectively keeps heavily used apps data and the ‘system’ on the SSD part of the drive moving them back and forth as required. There really isn’t any need to keep things separate on the disk as the system manages it very effectively. I have learned this from experience and no longer bother. You do however have to have a partition dedicated for using CCC, so large drives I have like a 5Tb one is partitioned to be able to back up up my 3 machines, so, 2Tb and 2 of 1.5 each. each one holding the complete cloned machine with it’s system and work etc. Hope that makes sense!

    Please feel free to ask any questions you may have anytime, I used to work for Apple (in-store) and have used Mac’s since the mid 90’s.

    1. Thanks, yes it makes perfect sense. I did make a mistake in typing the drive size and the partition size should have been 2.2Tb. I now have the Mac back and I’m doing a clean setup with essential software. All the hardware checks out fine on the diagnostics and the repairer suspect some sort of software corruption. My photo storage is via two large Drobo units but I don’t want to try searching manually for images without my Lightroom Catalogue. Fortunately I have managed to recover that from Time Machine and Lightroom is now up and running again. I have also downloaded Carbon Copy (thanks for the tip) and am usinf this to backup some of my image files from the Drobo to a 5Tb portable drive which I can keep offsite. Thanks again for your support and help.

  3. Robin

    Recently I had similar problems, though not so severe it seems… but could not get a 2TB drive formatted and partitioned on a mac using Sierra, or using another one with El Cap, or maybe it was the computer running high sierra (I have four, and they all run something different, don’t ask!!!) Anyway… I got the drive formatted and partitioned with no problem at all using the machine running OS 10.9.5 (Mavericks?)… which has the old system for disk utilities. I could then use it on all of my machines to run clones. If you have something running 10.9.5 you might want to give it a try. The new disk utilities system is really no fun at all to deal with. Good luck.


  4. I’ve had too many problems of various sorts with Time Machine. For example my iTunes library is permanently messed up after a TM restore 2 years ago. Although I still keep it turned on it’s only as a backup to my backup, backup.

    1. I now have the Mac back and it seems it wasn’t a problem with Time Machine but that the Fusion drive couldn’t recreate itself. It’s all sorted and I have managed to recover my Lightroom Catalogue from Time Machine which makes me very happy. That was my main concern.

  5. Hello Robin,

    I’m really sorry to hear that you are having problems like this with your Mac, & as one of the folks that urged you to convert to using a Mac for photography editing, I feel particularly bad about it. However, in reading the comments above, it does appear that there are some real issues that have been created with the new Sierra & High Sierra OS relative to the use of separate drives. With my old iMac running Mavericks, Yosemite & El Capitan, I never had any problems with the two external hard drives I use for back up & for my Lightroom & Photoshop images. But with my new 2017 iMac running High Sierra I have been having continual problems with the drives becoming unmounted & not recognized.

    Numerous online chats & phone calls with Apple support have been unsuccessful in resolving these issues. By preventing the drives from sleeping when the iMac sleeps, I have been able to keep them working most of the time. But we were away for a family funeral for while, shut the iMac & drives down during this time, & now I can’t get them to be recognized by the iMac again. I don’t know if my problems are different from what you & these other folks have been having, but it does look to me like they may be related. So I will be interested in hearing about how you are able to get yours resolved, hopefully very soon & completely fixed. Good luck & let us know how it turns out. Cheers,


    1. Thanks Jed. I have the Mac back and it’s been sorted. There is no problem with the hardware but for some reason, the Mac couldn’t recreate the Fusion drive once the drive had been wiped. The main thing is that my Time Machine was working and I have been able to recover my Lightroom Catalogue – there was years of work tied up in that so I’m happy. I’m also using Carbon Copy as some people suggested to create a backup of my Drobo image storage.

  6. Hello Robin,
    I’m sorry to hear about your problem but hope the repairer’s sort it out Ok for you. This strikes a cord with me, though, because at the moment I don’t back-up my work! I know I should but I haven’t found out how to do it. It’s probably very simple (when you know how) but, being almost completely computer-illiterate, I wish I could get specific step by step instructions and wondered if this would be something you could do for us in the future. I’m sure I’m not alone and think there must be plenty of photographers who don’t really know their way round their computer! (Or is it just me!!)

    Hope this helps for future ideas – and good luck with your Mac

    1. Hi Roy, all sorted now thanks, although it’s going to be a little while before I can restore all the applications I use. I had been planning a book on Image Storage and backup because it’s a large and complex area. I will though look at creating a shorter article, possibly for the next newsletter or the one following that.

      1. Thank you, Robin. That would be fantastic! It probably sounds daft to you, but I don’t understand basic things like what happens to saved images after working with Ps or Lr? Are they saved with the original image? How do you get back to the original or the image you’ve just been working on from the back-up files? Yes, I know, all basic stuff…..

        Thanks again, Roy

  7. Robin,

    I would echo Roy’s plea for some sharing of your expertise in the area of digital asset management using the LR architecture (I gave up on the PS Bridge a long time ago). Laying out a basic plan & workflow for sticking to it would be very helpful. As the folks at Adobe keep adding more & more features, such as in their latest update, the structure & use of catalogues, folders & image files in their system becomes more complex rather than self intuitive. A couple of articles dealing with this might help quite a lot.


  8. A worrying situation for you, Robin, which I am pleased to read seems now to be on the way to recovery. I’m a Mac user too, still running Yosemite on my iMac. I’m blessed with a daughter who works as a Mac Analyst (in English: Help desk) for a large company in London and a son who uses Macs as a Graphic Designer. Between them they usually sort me out. Very recently I asked my daughter if I should update my OS to High Sierrra, She said ‘No, we are having far too many problems with that OS version, stick with what you have’. Sounds like good advice for the time being. But all the time we seem to be at the mercy of software and hardware. I’ve had two external drives fail in the last year. Not good.

    1. Thanks. Since I encountered my problems a lot of people have mentioned they don’t trust High Sierra. Since the rebuild my Mac does seem to be running a lot better. I haven’t heard the fan come on once where it used to kick in frequently. Fingers crossed. The good thing about this is that it’s made me do something about creating an offsite copy of my Drobo Photo Storage. I haven’t experienced a hard drive failure for quite a few years but I guess it’s only time. I’m going to review my entire set up I think.

  9. Another vote for Carbon Copy here. Simple to use, quick and reliable.

    I have Lightroom set to use an external drive to store all of my photo files and Lightroom catalogue backups since my iMac has a relatively small 256 GB Apple SSD as it’s main drive. For backup, I copy the complete external drive to two other external HDDs, one of which stays in the house and gets updated more frequently, the other lives at a friend’s place and gets updated less often. I have Time Machine running on another external disk for general backup of the Mac’s internal SSD.

    Robert Rodriguez Jnr has written quite a bit on his blog at about fitting backups into his workflow.

    High Sierra is working just fine for me on both my 2017 27″ iMac and my wife’s 2011 MacBook Pro. Both have SSDs and were converted to APFS on installation of High Sierra. The external drives are APFS as well.

    1. Backup’s aren’t really a problem for me as I have a lot invested in infrastructure as well as resilience. The problem comes when the backup wouldn’t restore as in this case. Or for that matter a simple OS installation to hard disk. That turned out to be a more deep-rooted problem in the backup and the Fusion drive. I have now doubled up with Carbon Copy as it seems to give me more flexibility. Fingers crossed I won’t get a problem like this again and I hope no one else suffers it either. Incidentally, the Mac has been much more stable since I rebuilt it.

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