Need urgent help with external hard drive

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Hollities, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. Hollities macrumors newbie

    Jan 4, 2012
    I have my entire final university project on a pretty much brand new 1.5TB WD hard drive. I plugged it in today into my iMac, and received an error saying "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer." and I got the same on my MacBook Pro.

    I pressed 'Initialize' and 'Verified' and it says: 'Invalid B-tree node size' 'This volume could not be verified completely' and 'Error: This disk needs to be repaired.' So I click 'Repair'

    And it says:
    Volume repair complete.
    Updating boot support partitions for the volume required.
    Error: Disk Utility can't repair this disk.. disk, and restore your backed-up files.

    I'm so worried, and I have no idea what to do. I will pay anything to get these files back. They're months of hard work.
  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    Whenever I buy a new USB or FW drive, the first thing I do is plug it in, launch disk utility and format it as HFS+. It only takes a few seconds and now any Mac, AEBS or TC can see, read and write to the drive. In your situation, you can go so far as to change the partition scheme to GUID, single partition and then format it HFS+. If that doesn't work, then return the drive and get a new one. I encountered a user with a similar problem a month ago and my advice to you is the same.
  3. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Another option would be exFAT as it's also supported by Windows XP and later.
  4. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago

    Would be my way too, but I think the OP is probably more worried about the data on the drive.

    Unfortunately, data recovery companies charge a fortune. Was the data backed up elsewhere? (Crosses fingers)
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    It sounds like something in the drive's directories has become corrupted. It may take "some work" to get things back.

    There is software out there called "Disk Warrior" which can rebuild bad directories, but I'm not sure if it will work in your case. it might, it might not. Bear in mind that you may try DW and still end up right back where you started - with an unmountable drive.

    Going further, there is "data recovery software" that can be used to recover the data from corrupted disks when the directories are no longer accessible or usable. (Note: this is different than DiskWarrior, which only repairs/rebuilds directories).

    Some names that come to mind are:
    - DataRescue3
    -Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery
    - Disk Drill
    - Nice to Recover

    All of these can be downloaded from the developers' sites so that you can "try them out" before you commit to paying the registration fee.

    That means, you can launch the app, "aim it" at your problem drive, and it will scan and report on what it finds. I believe they all will permit you to recover _one_ file for test purposes. It the app recovers that one file, there is a very good chance it can recover more, so you then pay your registration fee and get a registration code and the app will finish the job.

    Be aware that you will almost certainly lose all pre-existing folder hierarchies and perhaps file names as well. That's standard operating procedure for file recovery software, but the consolation is that you get your files back.

    Also, for the data recovery apps to do their job, you will need ANOTHER hard drive to serve as a "scratch drive" to which files can be recovered.

    I would recommend something like this:
    (many items shown, they all work the same, pick one you like that's cheap)

    .... in combination with a bare SATA drive from the vendor of your choice (perhaps you may even be able to scrounge around at university for an old one to use).

    Although I don't have experience with this, it's possible that the latest versions of the data recovery apps have routines to repair damaged partitions that won't mount. If you can repair the partition map on the drive it may then re-mount with all your data otherwise intact.

    There's no guarantee of that, however. I'm guessing that if the damaged drive won't mount on the desktop, the data recovery app may not be able to "see" it, so that you can "attack" the problem and get the files back.

    I've been in this situation myself. My LAST RESORT was to completely re-initialize (yes, you're reading that correctly) the problem drive into a single partition which could be mounted on the desktop. Since the drive (even re-initialized and apparently "empty") could now be mounted, the data recovery app (in my case, DataRescue) could now "see" the drive and "get at" it. And that's how I got my files back.

    You're thinking, "how am I going to get my data back after I've reinitialized the drive?". Remember what "re-initialization" actually DOES: it just erases the old directory and replaces it with a fresh one showing the drive as "empty". Re-intialization in itself does not "touch" the actual data on the drive (located in the drive's sectors) -- it just "marks them as empty", regardless, so that new data can be written over. But the "old data" remains there until you write new data over it.

    Data recovery software is designed to "bypass the directories" completely and "go right to the platters" to locate, scavenge, and then re-assemble the data. And the app then saves the rebuilt data onto a fresh, "scratch drive" (that's why you need to buy another drive).

    Do not, DO NOT choose to "zero out" the drive if you re-initialize it. This WILL "wipe the platters clean" and there will be nothing left to recover!
    You want ONLY to replace the drive's directory!

    Again, this is a radical, "last ditch effort" approach. But it DID work for me when all else seemed lost.

    Final thought:
    One does not keep files that are so valuable that you would "pay anything to get them back" on only ONE drive. That's what "backups" are for.

    In the future, if you have stuff that is THAT important, you ought to have at least "one more storage location" for it. It could be another hard drive or even a flash drive. Something is better than nothing....
  6. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Better yet get a NAS. Constantly plugging in/out HDDs can lead to problems.
  7. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago

    Or a TC....Made my NAS redundant now. But as posted...ALWAYS have backups. Relying on one device is folly indeed.
  8. Hollities thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 4, 2012
    Thanks everyone for the quick replies. I will certainly do as suggested in future. I never expected anything like this to happen to a pretty much brand new hard drive, but that was just me being naive.

    As said, I'm more worried about the data than the hard drive itself.

    I phoned numerous companies and they're charging £400-500 BEFORE VAT! Which is just ridiculous.

    I was going to be getting cloud storage, I just didn't have the money to do so at the time. (Student loans will be paying for any software/help in recovering the files). I do have a lot of the important (edited) photographs backed up, I am just missing my main InDesign files (I have PDF exports) and unedited photographs. As I was using 2 computers, and neither had enough storage, I was using the hard drive as a middle ground. I have learnt my lesson.

    I'll try all the software already stated. Thank you! If anyone else has any other ideas, please feel free to post, as I won't touch the hard drive tonight, for fear I'll just make it worse.
  9. Bluisnblklungs macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    I had the same error a few years back and I used DiskWarrior, and it worked perfectly.

    Hope this helps!
  10. Elbert C macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2008
    AK, USA
    Same Invalid B-tree error, same outcome with DW on my external hard drive..

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