External hard disk problem

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by snerdley, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. snerdley macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2012
    Hi everyone,

    I'm wondering if anyone can help me with my problem. I've got a 1 TB external hard drive connected to my mac by FireWire 800. It has two partitions: about 350 GB as FAT32, used for photos, music etc., and about 650 GB as HFS+ used primarily as a scratch disk for Final Cut.

    For the last couple of weeks, the drive has sometimes refused to mount when I turn it on. Or sometimes five minutes after I turn it on and start using files, any program using those files will freeze until I unplug the drive. After several tries, it usually starts behaving itself. I've also had some data loss, only on the FAT32 partition--files disappear, sometimes file names have randomly changed by one character. Disk Utility doesn't find any problems on either partition. I tried reformatting the FAT32 partition as HFS+ and restoring from backup, but the next morning the drive still had the same problems with mounting and freezing up.

    More information: the drive has never been dropped off a cliff or stepped on or anything like that. I sometimes use the drive with an old laptop running Fedora Linux and it has no trouble mounting or using either partition. I've also tried plugging the drive into my mac via USB and FireWire 400, and the same problems still happen. My mac is running on OS X 10.6.8, with all the updates installed.

    What's wrong? Is my disk in the process of dying? Could it be a problem with the partition map? I would be especially happy if someone told me there was a way to fix it without buying a new disk and/or formatting the second partition... but I'm not holding my breath.

    Thanks so much.

    All best,
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "I would be especially happy if someone told me there was a way to fix it without buying a new disk and/or formatting the second partition... but I'm not holding my breath."

    I think you had better consider doing just that.

    EVERY drive is going to fail at some point. The drive you are using now is going to fail. If you consider the data that is stored on it to be important to you, you should have some kind of backup or "second point of storage" in any case.

    It won't cost much money to create a backup.

    I suggest you consider one of these devices:
    (many items shown, some cost as little as $20, just pick one you like that's cheap)

    Then, pick up a "bare" SATA drive from the vendor of your choice.

    Put the drive in the dock, connect the dock to the Mac, turn it on, initialize the drive using Disk Utility, and then "dupe" the contents of your primary external to the docked drive using CarbonCopyCloner.

    You are now protected against the failure of the first drive. You might consider re-initializing the old external, and then doing a "reverse clone" from the docked drive back to the external. Might clear up some problems, such as bad blocks or directory problems.

    You can even boot from the USB/SATA dock if necessary (requires a clone of your OS to do so).

    Note: sometimes there are problems with the external drive -enclosures- themselves, that prevent an external drive from mounting. The actual drive mechanism inside may be fine. In that case, if you have a "dock", you can just open the enclosure, use the drive with the dock, and keep going.

    The USB/SATA dock can become a VERY handy piece of equipment to have around. And did I mention that they were CHEAP?

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