How to recover individual folders of dying external hard drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Zettt, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. Zettt macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2009

    One of my external hard disks is dying. Many sectors can't be read anymore and I'm trying to save what I can. I'd love to use dd for this, but the disk has that strange behavior to randomly eject itself. Therefore dd is not the best tool here. I've read someone recommend ddrescue.

    The drive ejects itself when a long copy operation is on-going. Ideally I'd love to have something that allows me to continue a backup/sync operation where it left off. Even better would be if I could pick folders to start from because most of the disk is on CrashPlan.

    Any recommendations and helpful hints are welcome.

    Thank you.

  2. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    Do you have Time Machine backups from when that drive was all good?
  3. Zettt thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2009
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    First, you need another drive equal to size of the bad drive, to receive the files.

    I would suggest that you try using CarbonCopyCloner, which is free to download and free to use for 30 days. You can find it here:

    CCC might offer you two different approaches to try.

    1. Ordinary disk clone -- CCC will copy the "good files", and skip over the bad files in the damaged sectors.

    2. "Block level" clone -- CCC will clone the drive "one block at a time". I've never tried this, but I will -guess- that if CCC encounters a bad block, it will skip over that to the next block, etc. Not perfect, but your TARGET drive will not have any block problems at all, making it easier to search for what you're trying to find.

    Another way towards recovery is to get some paper for note-taking, and then start working "one folder at a time" in the finder, copying it to a good drive. You'll need to keep handwritten notes to record what's done vs. what's not.
  5. debrasutherland macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2014

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  6. rickdillon macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2014
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