My hard drives keep getting corrupt!

Discussion in 'macOS' started by baryon, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. baryon macrumors 68040


    Oct 3, 2009
    15 inch Retina MacBook Pro Late 2013, macOS Sierra 10.12.3.

    I've posted about this before but I haven't found a solution.

    I have four 3.5 inch hard drives that I use through a Sharkoon Quickport Duo USB 3.0 dock.

    There's a new WD Green 2TB, an old WD Green 500GB, an old Samsung 2TB, and a brand new WD Blue 3TB. I also use a WD MyPassport 2TB drive, not through the dock.

    Out of these 5 drives, two have a recurring problem, while the others have never had issues at all: The Samsung 2TB and the WD 3TB have the issue. While the Samsung is an old drive, the WD 3TB is brand new.

    What happens is that I will do a time machine backup onto the drive, everything is fine, I eject the drive, and then the next time it simply won't mount, and the "fsck_hfs" process runs at 100% CPU for quite a long time (30 mins to a few hours). Then at some point the disk mounts without issues, but there is a folder called "Damaged Files" on it full of hundreds of aliases to random files on the drive. The drive continues to work fine after this, for some time. Then the issue returns.

    If I quit the "fsck_hfs" process while this is happening, I get an error saying that the disk is now read-only and I must back it up and reformat it as soon as possible. I have done that many times and the problem keeps returning, sometimes after days, sometimes after months.

    What could cause this? If the dock was faulty, why are my other drives always fine? If the hard drive is failing, why is my brand new WD having the same issue as my old Samsung? Seems oddly unlikely.

    I've tried installing SMART status drivers but I can't get them to work. I feel like all my data could be lost any day and there is nothing I can do.

    The data is backed up. It's hard to say when the issue is fixed because it may take weeks or months to show up again. And yes, I always eject the drives properly. The Samsung is used to back up another drive with Backup Buddy, and the WD 3TB is used by Time Machine.

    Should I return the newer drive while it's under warranty? How can I prove that it has a problem, besides saying "use it heavily for a few months and eventually the problem will probably show up"? Should I buy a new HDD dock? Could it be a software issue? Why does it always happen to the same two drives?
  2. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Sailing beyond the sunset
    If it's always the same drives, try different cables. Most people plug and unplug the end farthest from the drive, which means a cable tends to stay with a drive.

    If you always plug them into the same hub, it could be the hub.

    If they're always plugged into the same connector, it could be the connectors on the hub.

    If you don't have another hub, try connecting one drive with a new cable directly to the Mac. Use it like that for a week or so.

    There's a faint possibility of faulty RAM. Run a hardware test:
  3. baryon thread starter macrumors 68040


    Oct 3, 2009
    These are all naked 3.5 inch drives that I put into the same dock, so it all goes through the same exact cable/dock. I can't narrow it down to anything... My only guess is that the dock interacts strangely with two specific drives causing data to not go through properly on those drives. But why would a dock that uses the SATA standard not respect the SATA standard properly?

    I'm so confused. I'm simply in a situation where I can't back up my data because the backups keep failing, even when I buy new backups. All it takes for the same thing to happen to my actual data and then I lose everything I have.

    Could RAM really cause something like this? Wouldn't that have other symptoms? It seems oddly specific that faulty RAM would cause two specific hard drives to keep failing, but wouldn't cause anything else bad to happen.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I'd try a different dock.
    Or, try a USB3/SATA adapter/dongle.
  5. baryon thread starter macrumors 68040


    Oct 3, 2009
    I've just witnessed something interesting: my dock was turned on and plugged in, having finished a Time Machine backup about 10 minutes ago and just sitting there doing nothing (no transfers or anything). All of a sudden, I get a message that both drives in the dock were "improperly ejected" and I hear both hard drives spin up at the same time. Then it took a few minutes for one of the drives to mount, while the other mounted instantly. I imagine that this is to be expected when a drive isn't ejected properly.

    It appears that for some reason, both drives lost power or got disconnected at the same time for a split second or something. What could cause this? Could it be the OS putting the disks to sleep? But then why would both disks go to sleep at the exact same time? Could it be the dock doing something wrong?

    If it was the USB cable, the drives wouldn't spin down and back up. The drives only ever spin down if I turn the dock off, or if I leave it plugged in idling, then the computer may put them to sleep (which hasn't caused issues before).

    I'm tempted to say that the dock is doing something wrong... I wish it was that simple, then I could just buy a new dock and be done with it.
  6. prisstratton, Apr 16, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017

    prisstratton macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2011
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    I just read on some of your other posts that you are running Windows 10 on your MBP. I am running a multi-boot desktop (Win 7, Win 10, MacOS [Hackintosh] and Linux) that recently had several hard drive corruptions for no apparent reason. It turns out that Windows 10 uses a “Fast Startup” mode by default that can cause corruption on other drives in a multi-boot environment. I switched off “Fast Startup” and everything was fixed and no more corruption, although it did cause a lot of grief as I had to re-build everything.

    I know this may not apply to your specific situation, but I thought I would share this in case it might help.
  7. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Sailing beyond the sunset
    If something like the cable or connector is intermittent, then the drives can work normally most of the time, and only occasionally malfunction.

    If everything is electrically connected, power is supplied and the drives work normally. Then a brief break in the power would cause the drives to detect power loss. Immediately after breaking power, the connector remakes the power connection, and power reappears. The drives then spin up because they've just undergone a power cycle, albeit a brief one.

    Brief means on the order of 50-100 milliseconds, i.e. 1/20 to 1/10 of a second.

    I would replace cable, connectors, any hub or dock involved, any external power supplies, and try to get as much of an equipment change as possible. The only thing I'd try to keep are the drives themselves.
  8. BuffaloJohn macrumors newbie


    Nov 27, 2017
    It sounds like your disk is being ejected improperly to me. The Mac caches data before writing it to your drive. I have had troubles with cheap externals when my Mac ejects them improperly when going to sleep. It ejects them before it allows the cached information to be actually written to disk. My more expensive drives have never had that issue... which is why I buy the more expensive drives.

    My Time Machine backup is made to a cheap 4tb MyBook. I got rid of the problem by manually running Time Machine backups a few times per week. I also have online and other methods for my most important files.

    There is a program called Jettison that can also mange the problem for you. Many swear by it as you can control ejecting
    with it.

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