Failing HDD-- Any tricks?

godslabrat

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 19, 2007
346
110
Hi All,

I have a HDD that's in the early stages of failure (which I realize is a bit like saying "a little bit pregnant"). It's an IDE drive on a USB dongle. OSX has trouble recognizing the drive, but will after being repaired or verified with Disk Utility. At that point, I can see the files and folders in Finder. What I cannot do, however, is open up any of the files or transfer them over. Any attempt to do so gives me an eternal beach ball.

Since the drive is still healthy enough to at least list the files, I want to think I could still extract the data. Does anyone have any tricks they could offer? Is the freezer trick worthwhile, or just wishful thinking?
 

MCAsan

macrumors 601
Jul 9, 2012
4,536
412
Atlanta
Ideally the drive, like the Machintosh HD drive should be part of the backups made by Time Machine. If so, there should be good archives from which to restore onto a replacement drive. You can get desktop 3TB drives for around $100 and 4TB for around $160.
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
29,313
8,956
California
Hi All,

I have a HDD that's in the early stages of failure (which I realize is a bit like saying "a little bit pregnant"). It's an IDE drive on a USB dongle. OSX has trouble recognizing the drive, but will after being repaired or verified with Disk Utility. At that point, I can see the files and folders in Finder. What I cannot do, however, is open up any of the files or transfer them over. Any attempt to do so gives me an eternal beach ball.

Since the drive is still healthy enough to at least list the files, I want to think I could still extract the data. Does anyone have any tricks they could offer? Is the freezer trick worthwhile, or just wishful thinking?
You might try the "ditto" command from Terminal. That does a block copy and may be able to get you some of the files off the drive.

It would look like this, substituting your external drive name. That would copy the contents of the external drive to a folder called Temp on your Desktop.

Code:
ditto /Volumes/external_name ~/Desktop/Temp
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,089
444
Elkton, Maryland
Hi All,

I have a HDD that's in the early stages of failure (which I realize is a bit like saying "a little bit pregnant"). It's an IDE drive on a USB dongle. OSX has trouble recognizing the drive, but will after being repaired or verified with Disk Utility. At that point, I can see the files and folders in Finder. What I cannot do, however, is open up any of the files or transfer them over. Any attempt to do so gives me an eternal beach ball.

Since the drive is still healthy enough to at least list the files, I want to think I could still extract the data. Does anyone have any tricks they could offer? Is the freezer trick worthwhile, or just wishful thinking?
I would not even attempt the freezer trick. It was a trick devised in the late 80s to early 90s for freeing seized drive heads by contracting the metal parts ever so slightly. Your drive is not seized up as it is viewable through the Finder. Try the Terminal commands and keep that drive away from any freezers within the 100 feet radius :D .
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,406
5,640
[[ Since the drive is still healthy enough to at least list the files, I want to think I could still extract the data. Does anyone have any tricks they could offer? Is the freezer trick worthwhile, or just wishful thinking? ]]

Here's something to try:

Get ahold of a data recovery app such as DataRescue3. It's free to download and use in demo mode.

Connect the problem drive, do the Disk Utility "repair routine" if needed to get it mounted on the desktop.

Launch DR3 and "aim it" at the problem drive. You might try the "deep scan" option (if it's still there). Be aware that this may take several hours, but even if it does, let DR3 "do its thing".

What Data Rescue does is "look around" the directory, and "go right to the platters" of the drive. It will scavenge for whatever data it finds, and try to re-assemble the data into files. What it can find, it can then copy to a "scratch" (i.e. rescue) drive.

If DR3 (in demo mode) is successful, it will present you with a list of potentially recoverable files, and give you the option to save -ONE- file only.

The idea is to ascertain that the app has a good chance of working for you BEFORE you pay the registration fee. If things look good at this point, you pay the fee, get a registration number and enter it, and then DR3 goes to work on the actual file recovery.

BTW, -ALL- of the "data recovery" apps out there work in essentially the same way.

It's worth downloading and experimenting with DR3 (or with another data recovery app) just to see if such a "recovery vector" might work for you.