Fried directories on TWO external HFS drives - lotsa ??

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by mynameismary, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. mynameismary macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    #1
    Hi!

    I am running a dual-boot Mac with Windows 7 and Snow Leopard. My problem concerns two external Lacie Quadra drives at 1 tb each named T1 and T2.

    History:
    Had T1 a year - maybe
    Got T2 on warranty replacement in November

    T2 went first with a B mode error within two weeks of receiving it. Since it was my back-up drive's backup, no worries. Formatted and started over. Ran fine for maybe five - six weeks then crapped out again. Would show up on desktop sometimes with major files missing. Turned it off and investigated file recovery options.

    T1 went within three days of T2. It was throwing invalid sibling something-or-another.

    Both drives when scanned with Tech Tools Pro were unrepairable with bad superblocks/magic numbers. Using terminal to specify alternate blocks did not work. :/

    Repaired T2 last night with DiskWarrior. Lost some files but got the important ones back. Working on T1 now.

    Known issues: had a problem with a driver on the windows side that would cause Windows to bluescreen (only sometimes - arg) when I tried to use my external drives with Firewire. Drives were fine with USB connections.

    The actual questions:
    Now what? Do I need to use a third drive to drag off what I can save and reformat both T1 and T2?

    Is a repaired drive/directory reliable?

    I don't know a whole lot about how HFS+ works regarding file storage and access, but can repeated power failures (i.e. bluescreen events) cause this? T1 went out after I replaced the driver that was causing the fault, but I believe I read somewhere that directory errors can start out small but escalate until the drive is unusable. Is this true?

    My system: 2.4 ghz / 4g ram / 10.6.3
    Windows 7 / Macdrive

    Errors occurred under 10.5.something; upgraded to Snow Leopard yesterday.

    Probably random details:
    1) Upgraded to Win 7 form XP without Snow Leopard support. Found a work-around with the boot issue. :) The Mac side of my internal drive is fine, so I am assuming this is unrelated.

    2) Have had problems with disappearing files for a long time. Some but not all were caused because I didn't realize that Macs REPLACED folders instead of merging them like Windows does. I have wondered how much (if anything) MacDrive may have had to do with this.

    3) Internal drive also has a third 32g FAT partition for shared files. I set that up when I got this machine two years ago, and the internal partitions are still fine. No missing files from internal disks - only from external drives.

    Any insight into this would be greatly appreciated. I'm a little geeky when it comes to Windows, but Macs, well, they're different. (Duh, right? LOL)

    Thanks a million!!!!!!!!!

    :)
     
  2. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    New England
    #2
    Sorry I can't help, but this is exactly why I stay away from third party low-level drivers like MacDrive and NTFS-3G. The one thing I can't tolerate is insidious data corruption and natively HFS+ and NTFS are great on their own.

    Note that I even had trouble with an external 1TB USB drive that was factory formatted FAT32. Worked great under OS X, but looked empty and complained about file system corruption under all versions of Windows. Since this was an archive disk ,and the only copy of some data, I couldn't risk simply running fsck or chkdsk on it until i moved the data.

    I've concluded that the only "safe" way to share lots of data read/write between the two OSes is abstracted on a NAS as a SMB/CIFS share, and even that has some issues. Making "deposits" of large numbers of files to the NAS from Finder seems to occasionally "lose" a few files. I end up having to drop to Terminal and use "cp" or use PathFinder if I want a bit more certainty.

    Ideally I'd switch over to NAS that supported AFP since my clients are usually the three Macs under OS X, but I'll stick with my HP MediaSmart EX490 at least until the warranty runs out. I'm seriously considering converting it over to Ubuntu when the warranty is up next month.

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  3. GGJstudios, Dec 22, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2010

    GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #3
    The OP said nothing about any drive being formatted with NTFS. They mentioned FAT32 and HFS+. NTFS-3G works fine and has nothing whatsoever to do with the OP's situation.
    I would suspect anything at this point, including faulty drives. If you can still access the drives, I'd drag any files you can to a 3rd drive (hopefully, not the same model) and reformat the drives.
    If there's no hardware or driver issue involved, yes.
    If you have a power failure while writing to a drive, it can cause problems, but usually not with the whole drive. Usually, only the files being written are affected.
    The only thing that could make a drive unusable is hardware failure. You can always replace a driver and you can always reformat/repartition a drive, if it's working properly.
     
  4. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
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    #4
    One question I forgot to ask, especially since mynameismary only just upgraded to Snow Leopard: What version of MacDrive are you using? Have you kept that up to date and applied all updates?

    You missed my point obviously.

    I'm lumping MacDrive and NTFS-3G, because despite numerous people (including some user named GGJstudios) saying one or both "work fine", there are also MANY reports of folks using them and reporting unexplained data loss like the OP. It may well be some funky combination of the file system drivers, the hardware drivers and the hardware itself, but it does seem to happen more often when folks use third party drivers to enable read-write of foreign file systems than when they don't.

    Not a risk I am willing to take. Just like I would generally use ext3/4 for my linux boxes instead of relying on known incomplete drivers to read/write to NTFS or HFS+. (Perfectly fine to mount them read only though).

    If need be, on the Mac I can always run a Windows VM if I need read/write access to NTFS or a Linux VM if I want read/write access to ext3/4 using the native drivers. HFS+ remains the trickier one to deal with since I can't easily run an OS X VM under Windows.

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  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #5
    If you look at such reports, you'll find they almost exclusively deal with Tuxera, not the free NTFS-3G driver.
     
  6. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
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    New England
    #6
    Tuxera is to NTFS-3G what Crossover is to Wine.

    They are based on the same code, coded largely by the same developers, one is commercially supported and may have some extra features, the other isn't.

    I've seen reports of corruption from both, as well as Paragon NTFS.

    As you initially said, the OP is not using NTFS, or any OS X NTFS driver. You are not going to convince me that any one of the third party drivers that are currently available are 100% safe, because nothing is. (i.e. you'd think FAT32 would be "safe", but in my case it wasn't, using the first party OS X drivers).

    To bring this back on-topic and rephrase my earlier post.

    File system corruption happens. In my experience the best way to avoid it is to use the file system the OS wants to use. HFS+ for OS X, NTFS for Windows, ext3/4 for Linux. Third party read/write drivers for HFS+ and NTFS commonly show up in threads where data loss/corruption is suspected. As such, they are the first thing I would suspect and eliminate in trying to diagnose this issue. Alternatively, where possible, try to abstract the underlying file system away using a network (e.g. a NAS). Finally, note that not even first party drivers and software are perfect. I've experienced fs corruption on FAT32 using the built-in FAT32 support and Finder has known issues losing files when copying/moving large numbers of files to SMB shares.

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  7. mynameismary thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    #7
    My Win 7 partition is NTFS-3G (MacFUSE). The MacFUSE part is new... discovered that yesterday as I was looking for some sort of replacement for MacDrive.

    Finished up T2 this morning, and now diskutil (as well as DiskWarrior) report that it's fine hardware wise and is complete with new directories - what it could do, anyway. Still working on T1 with 444 overlapped files and counting.

    Good - that was a big issue. While I will reformat later for my own peace of mind, it's good to know that my data is "reasonably" safe enough to allow me to work on one drive at a time.

    That's what I thought, and until T1 went out within a week of T2 (and after a year of faithful, reliable service), I was convinced that I had a hardware problem with T2. It would just seem that there is another cause of corruption, especially since DW said the hardware's fine.

    If it matters any, I didn't lose ALL of my files on either drive. Large chunks and entire folders? Yep.



    Macdrive 8 - and it's as up-to-date as it can get without having to buy the new version. I'd look, but I can't reboot while the repair is running.

    Wow. I've searched quite a few times for similar stories/complaints, but either I haven't plugged in the right terms or these folks aren't talking because I couldn't find anyone complaining of unexplained data loss, even though I've suspected MacDrive for a long time. (That's one big reason I have so many external drives.)

    Much of my missing data involved 0 btye files, while some of it was just ... not there anymore.

    My second suspect? SyncToy. I've dropped that and started using FileSync instead. Maybe it wasn't such a great idea to cross-platform/format transfer data like that. (Please don't go "DUH!" I'm quite literally figuring all of this out as I go.)

    ....

    Looks like I just got some homework. I understood "OSes", "terminal", "copy", and "large amounts of data"... The "large number of files" part was pretty clear, too, as that is when most of my problems occur outside of this new issue with the directory errors.

    Arg. Each OS has things that it does better than the other, and unfortunately for me, my range of interests and the applications that I need for work don't make for a practical solution regarding choosing one format over another. I am going to look up what you mentioned about using a SMB/CIFS share as a more stable solution to this problem.

    Thank you both VERY much for your time and input on this. It gets amazingly frustrating when you're dealing with data loss and can't figure out what's going on. BTW, I apologize for the fragmented reply. :)

    I'm off to do a little research into alternative formats, but I'll definitely be checking back.

    Thanks again!
     
  8. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #8
    It may not be any one thing, but a combination that you are running into. It's just very hard figuring out what could be going wrong once you introduce so many pieces of third party software into the mix.

    By eliminating everything but the OS and using the OS's favorite file system you can get down tonthe point where you can pin the blame clearly on either the hardware or the OS.

    This is how I know about the finder bug. I can reproduce it often when copy/moving hundreds of files to an SMB share on the NAS or on my Windows box, yet i cannot reproduce it if I use Path Finder, or cp/mv from Terminal or similar operations from my Windows box. Thus, the problem is Finder.

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  9. mynameismary thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    #9
    I was afraid that you'd say that, but I know you are right about throwing too many variables into the mix. I've searched for data loss with both SyncToy and MacDrive, and I've heard of errors with both, but nothing that specifically describes what I have going on.

    I have not had any problems (knock on wood) with the three NTFS formatted drives, so I think that's what I am going to stick with... one HFS so I can back up my Mac and boot via firewire, and the others will be NTFS, since that's what I use primarily with my photos.

    Thanks again! :)
     
  10. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
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    #10
    Now doesn't that just make you feel special. ;)

    I know that GGJstudios would disagree with me, but I would stay away from making these read/write under OS X by any software means. If you can run your Boot Camp in a VM, use that to gain write access or hook the drives up to something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Cirago-NUS1000-Network-Storage-Link/dp/B0037NYKW6/ref=dp_cp_ob_e_title_0 where you get an SMB share coming out the other side.

    B
     
  11. mynameismary thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    #11
    It sure does - just definitely not in the nice kind of way. ;)



    It looks like the repairs on both disks went through - with varying degrees of success, so that's the next big project: transfer some files then choose the best format for one of these big drives.

    Ready for the stupid question of the hour?
    Is the content of the file relevant to the format of the drive that it is stored on?
    (In plain English: does it matter any if you are storing Mac files on an NTFS drive, or is it just the OS you are using when you transfer them?)

    I am assuming that it doesn't (shouldn't) matter in which format the files are written (or which archival software you used - Mac or Win), but I bet you know what guessing around can get you. :)
     
  12. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #12
    Unfortunately in some cases, yes.

    Example: DV Video. Files can easily be larger than 4 GB, so you don't want FAT32. NTFS , HFS+ or exFAT should work though.

    Example: a maildir store (lots of tiny files). Also, don't put this on a FAT32 drive since the tiny files will take up a full cluster (up to 32 KB for a 100 B file). There are also issues with the filenames used by maildir that incorporate colons, so these should not be put on exFAT or NTFS partitions either.

    Example: iPhoto. The library needs to be on an HFS+ formatted drive.

    Example: Time Machine. The library needs to be on an HFS+ formatted drive.

    Fortunately, for those last two, there are simple workarounds of creating an HFS+ Disk Image to encapsulate the library on other file systems.

    I know there are also Windows apps that require certain advanced NTFS features, but can't think of them right now.

    It's all about the app making assumptions on the capabilities of the file system. Unfortunately, these apps and data also don't play well with NAS solutions for the same reason. The features they use just aren't there.

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