(SOLVED!) Need advice recovering data from failing hard drive

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Lion (10.7)' started by Diogones, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. Diogones, Oct 22, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2012

    Diogones macrumors regular


    Dec 23, 2009
    Hey all,

    A friend of mine has a 2009 Macbook Pro, and while she was using it one day, the laptop suddenly shut off by itself. When she tried to reboot the Mac, it was stuck on the grey Apple screen with the spinning gear.

    After having me look at it, I confirmed that the drive is failing, as verbose mode began spitting "I/O error" messages from the boot drive.

    I've removed the drive and installed a fresh one in her computer, so no problem there. The big issue is how to collect what data I can from the failing drive.

    1.) I connected the drive to a hard drive dock and hooked it up to my Mac for diagnosis. The drive does mount on the Mac desktop, and I can access it directly, so there is hope of recovering files.

    2.) When I try to copy over the home folder from the drive - the only folder I'm interested in - I can only copy over some of the files. Finder will give me several error -36 messages, and I have to restart from the last transfer.

    3.) In an attempt to get around this Finder recovery method, I've run Disk Warrior on the drive, and it has rebuilt the directory, but it hasn't helped. I also have noticed that the drive does have a grinding noise whenever I access it, leading me to believe that it is a mechanical failure.

    4.) I attempted to clone the drive using Carbon Copy Cloner, but after giving me several bad sector errors, the clone was canceled, even after I tried to clone again.

    5.) I tried to access the data with Data Recovery 3, but all it does is give me slow access speed errors, and hangs when copying over the home folder.

    6.) When I booted the Mac up with a Lion Recovery disc, when the drive was still inside the MacBook, Disk Utility reported that the SMART status was fine. I also tried repairing the drive with DU's First Aid options, but all it did was report that the drive was fine.

    1.) The drive cannot be repaired by software or drive repair programs. I think the drive is suffering from a mechanical problem, rather than a directory or file structure error.

    2.) All this leads me to believe that I will need to copy the files over manually with Finder, waiting for the slow response times, and re-running the transfer as the Finder encounters problem files and errors out.

    Does anyone have any advice on a better way, besides tediously using the Finder, to recover the files, including those that are "bad" or "corrupted"? I am open to any command line or Linux-based utility, or even a Windows recovery option that can read HFS+ volumes, which might copy over all the files regardless of error, after which point I could go through them and delete the files that are gone for good.

    I want to avoid writing to the drive as much as possible, as I'm worried that it could fail at any minute, and I don't want to do anything until I have a solid plan of attack.

    Naturally, this also serves as a great opportunity for me to lecture my friend on the importance of Backup, Backup, Backup!
  2. Diogones thread starter macrumors regular


    Dec 23, 2009
    Great news everyone!

    This hard drive tale of woe has a happy ending after all! I used DataRescue 3 to scan the drive, and pull the data off to a functioning Mac. It was very slow and tedious, and took several days, but I managed to get almost everything off the drive, albeit with a few corrupted files. Marking the thread as solved.

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