disk stopped mounting, how to recover files?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by bunzer, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. bunzer macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2017
    hi all, having an incredibly frustrating problem year.
    have a year's worth of my work on this ONE external hd, it has been failed for a while but always let me copy off of it after attempting to repair from disk utility. in fact it just worked earlier today, copied some stuff, then switched to another computer, so back up the rest and boom. in disk utility it still gives me the error "cannot rebuild, back up as many files as possible", but now the hard drive isn't mounting anymore.
    i also tried terminal, which also recognizes the hd, but says it's "busy" or "permission denied"
    tried diskwarrior, said it couldn't fix it.
    but i can SEE that the drive is still there, and i'm sure those files are still there. it's just not mounting to let me backup. i KNOW the files are there and there must be a way/easy fix!
    now i'm just letting it (and myself) cool off after many attempts, i'm afraid to keep trying this to damage it further. it is occasionally clicking.
    any insight appreciated and hope this can help others with this issue!!
  2. CoastalOR macrumors 68020


    Jan 19, 2015
    Oregon, USA
    Sorry for your frustrating problems. The bad news is that "occasionally clicking" is usually a sure sign of HD hardware failing.

    The time to save your "year's worth of my work on this ONE external hd" was to backup as soon as you started having problems. It would be even better to have a routine backup routine for all important data to eliminate any single point failures.

    Some details about your system might help:
    What model/year Mac? Which OS? What make external HD and what was the format? What commands did try on Terminal? Do you have another HD available to copy files to?

    Do not try to do any further writing or repairs. You are right that you could get data corruption.
    Try restarting your Mac with the external HD attached. If the HD mounts then be prepared to start copying your important files immediately.
    Data Rescue has a demo mode to give you an idea if it can help, but it is not cheap.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Sometimes this helps (may or may not in your case):

    1. Power down the Mac, all the way off.
    2. Disconnect the problem drive.
    3. Power up the Mac.
    4. When you get to the finder, connect the external drive, and...
    ...wait. Just wait a while.

    I've seen cases where (after connecting) the Mac will take some time to mount a problem drive. Give it 10-15 minutes before giving up.

    If NOTHING else works, this might be worth a try:
    1. Reinitialize the drive in Disk Utility (yes, you're reading that correctly), so it will mount on the desktop again (it will "look like" it's empty, with no files). DO NOT DO NOT choose to "secure erase". DO NOT DO NOT "zero out" the data. You just want a quick re-initialization that replaces the drive directory, and that alone.
    2. Download "DataRescue" from ProSoft
    3. Mount the "empty" drive on the desktop, and launch DR
    4. DR will "ignore" the "empty" directory, and "go right to the platters" of the drive, scavenging around.
    5. DR will present you with a list of files it thinks are recoverable.
    6. DR will let you recover ONE File, and ONE FILE ONLY (this is to prove that it works before you pay the registration)
    7. You now pay the registration fee, get a code, enter the code, and DR "goes to work" on the drive.
    8. You will need ANOTHER DRIVE of sufficient capacity to serve as the "scratch drive" to receive the recovered files.
    9. You will lose all previous folder hierarchies and probably lose file names as well. This is "par for the course" with data recovery.

    No promises that this can work.
    But it worked for me with a partition that disappeared and could no longer be mounted on the desktop.

    Final thought:
    If the drive has actual hardware damage (or controller damage), NO "data recovery" app is going to help you. The only way to get the data would be through professional data recovery, and that can be VERY expensive (we're talking thousands of dollars).

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