*urgent* external hard drive suddenly unreadable, job in jepoardy

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by poohat1000, Jul 1, 2008.

  1. poohat1000 macrumors 6502


    Nov 11, 2005
    right, im ****ed. People in my office keep everything on an external hard drive, - i've not been here long but i know its never backed up. Anyway, whilst dragging a file to the disk os x 10.3.9 suddenly froze up. beachball city. I restarted the computer and im getting the message "you have inserted a disk with nothing os x can read, initialize, ignore" - WTF?!? this thing contains all their clients work, i'm already being blamed for it (they're not very computer literate so they think that just because i was using it - its my fault)


    i have a feeling it may have overheated, its the hottest day of the year here in the UK today, and this external hd doesn't have a fan or anything.

    I've unplugged it from the power source and am letting it cool down - could the heat have fried it completly or is it likely to be ok once its cooled down?
  2. agentphish macrumors 65816


    Sep 7, 2004
    Ok firstly, calm down. I'm sorry for your misfortune, but I'd say its physically impossible that you lost everything due to an OS freeze. There is a far more likely chance that the drive itself could have failed, in which case that's a problem that anyone can face, and it's no one's "fault".

    They can not possibly blame you for such a thing, these things happen. It's their own fault if the data is not backed up, that's just ridiculous, and your job should in no way be in jeopardy.

    Now, you can try to get your hands on a copy of Data Rescue II by ProSoft

    I have used it to recover data before, and it has served me quite well.

    I'd also reboot the machine as well, maybe even reset the PRAM just for grins.
  3. iJED DV macrumors member

    iJED DV

    Jun 21, 2006
    Try Stellar Phoenix for Mac. It's pricey, but you can do a trial scan to see if it will recover the files first. I had more luck with it than when I tried using Data Rescue.
  4. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    First principles:

    1) It is not possible to make a hard drive fail simply by doing a Finder copy.

    2) They are seven kinds of irresponsible for having a central data drive with no backup

    This is like removing all of the nuts from the company car's wheels, telling the newbie to drive to the post office, and then blaming him for the wheels falling off.

    Every hard drive in the world will fail, sooner or later. It's a given.

    Go and get a new external hard drive, or better, a new external case and a new mechanism, so you can easily swap drives in and out

    NOTE: If you don't have an internal hard drive in a Mac that has enough free space to back up the dead drive, best get 2 new, large drives.

    Make sure that the enclosure is of the correct internal connector type for the dead drive -- most usually this will be an IDE drive.

    If you can borrow or buy DiskWarrior software, that may come in handy.

    You problem may be software (the logical structure of the info on the drive), it may be the case/bridgeboard/power supply of the external case, or it may be the hard drive mechanism itself.

    You want to install the mechanism into the new enclosure (this removes the variables of the enclosure, power supply and cabling), AND have another drive ready to backup the first one as soon as you can fire it up. Act on the presumption that if you can get the drive to appear, it may be the one and only time it will work before failing completely.

    Once you are set up and ready, you can try going into Disk Utility, and see if it can recognize the drive (even if the Mac volume is not recognized) If you can, do a Repair Disk on it.

    If you can't see the mechanism, or if Repair Disk doesn't work, you can try DiskWarrior. DW does not repair hardware problems, but it does a very good job in repairing a certain class of logical errors in the catalog and volume data of the drive, and often can make a 'disappeared' drive reappear.

    Back up the data to a second drive the moment you gain access to it.

    If DW can't make the drive visible then you have more serious problems. A program called DataRescue may be able to scavenge data from the drive.

    If that doesn't work, you need to start considering a professional data recovery service such as ActionFront, DriveSavers, Total Recall or Seagate Data Recovery. This will cost thousands of dollars, typically.

    There are other, riskier things that can be done to attempt to access the drive, but you don't want to risk destroying the chance of recovery at one of the professional services. Generally, the more you **** around with it, the lower the chance of eventual recovery.

    Whatever the outcome, I suggest that the company hire in a consultant who can assess the network and the data, and install a proper, automated, redundant backup system with archiving and offsite storage. This may cost 1 or 2 thousand dollars, but the balance of that is "What's the cost if all your data disappears?". How much money would be lost if all the work and records had to be recreated?
  5. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    first try connect the disk to another computer.

    OSX tiger, leopard, Windows XP, vista, Linux.

    try different usb port of the computer as well.
  6. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Err/// Assuming this is a Mac drive, HFS+ = won't be read on Windows. Unless the OP really knows what they are doing, Windows or Linux would be a BAD idea, it's one click away from being totally b0rked.
  7. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    is his external HDD HFS+?

    I do suggested trying out Tiger and leopard first.

    PS. I dont know linux or windows will destroy a HFS+ system HDD just by connecting?
  8. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Seen it before.

    DiskWarrior should do it if it's not hardware issue (if you have experienced before this happened: clicking or unusual noise, or long seektimes and hangs coming from the harddrive).

    Get another drive to copy the data to it if you can read the file using DiskWarrior.
  9. jellomizer macrumors 6502


    Sep 12, 2006
    Upstate NY
    You company should get some IT Consultants

    I would use this as a wakeup call that you IT setup is not appropraite.
    Backing up on a single external drive is Stupid for a business envrioment. Sure it is fine for your own personal files with your own personal computer. Say using timemachene where if you lost your timemachene drive your PC is still working fine, you get a new drive and resync and you back on track (minus the old backup copies) But for a business envrioment you need a file server (PC/Linux/Mac doesn't matter) you can get one fairly cheap wll more expensive then an external drive however under 2k you can get a good one for a small business. If you are afraid to do it get some consultants in it to help. Have them set it up with either Mirroing or RAID 5 with a way to have a removable backup of that (Tapes, External Drives (plural) )

    This isn't your fault you were just the poor sap that had the misfortune of the problem occuring. Your company should have payed better attention to handing IT information. Putting faith in an external drive as the primary method of holding data will lead to disaster.
  10. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    "one click away" I said.

    The OP is not a guru. So there is a risk that an errant click on an unfamiliar message like "Windows needs to initialize this drive to read it: Continue?" would lead to destruction of the data. And since nothing usable can be done with a HFS+ on Win or Linux unless you have the tools and some deep skills, why even send him there? That was not a particularly responsible suggestion.

    The OP stated it was an external hard drive he was using with 10.3.x, so the presumption is that it is HFS+ unless there is some indication otherwise.

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