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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I had an external magnetic hard drive hooked up to my old 2007 MBP with the notebook sitting on my lap in the living room. I was watching TV at the time while transferring some video files to the external HDD. I watched more TV for some more minutes then decided to take a washroom break. I forgot that the external HDD was still connected. As soon I moved the MBP to the side, the USB cable dragged the external HDD along and the enclosure dropped to the carpet. Uh oh. The external HDD remained mounted and I could open a video file that I just transferred over.

I dismounted the HDD. It took a long time to try to dismount. The 2007 MBP runs OS 10.6.8. Then a window popped up to ask if I wanted to force eject the drive. I did. Finally the external HDD dismounted.

But when I connected it again the drive didn't mount. Instead an error message appeared that it was unreadable and asked if I wanted to initialize the drive. Of course I did not.

I took the external HDD to my computer room and hooked it up to the 2011 MBP. The light on the enclosure flashed a long time then stopped, The drive didn't mount. The 2011 MBP runs OS 10.12.6. I launched Disk Utility to see what might happen to the external HDD. Disk Utility took a long time to show anything, just a spinning disk. When DU finally finished mounting the drives, on the left sidebar it showed the icon of the enclosure but no volume. Nothing, not even Untitled and only a dash. I clicked on the dash and it showed zero KB free space, zero KB purgeable and 749.81GB used. The drive capacity is 750GB and there is about 27GB free space.

I pulled the HDD out of the enclosure and put it in another enclosure. Then I hooked it up to the 2011 MBP. Same problem of not mounting and Disk Utility showed the same stats.

Is the magnetic HDD toast? Is there a way to rescue the content? You can call the magnetic HDD an archival drive. Each file in there is the only copy.

One software that came to my mind was Disk Warrior. But Disk Utility shows all those numbers in the external HDD, not a drive with about 27GB disk space left. The issue doesn't appear to be a damaged directory, or could that be?
 

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I've had similar experiences with a 4GB drive containing video files and it was never clear to me what was happening. Files appeared to be totally inaccessible, but later the HD spontaneously revived long enough to transfer everything to another drive.

From my experience DiskWarrior didn't perform very well in rescuing files, especially if it was not used all along when files were created. At last use it was falling behind on modern formatting and would not work with Big Sur.

EaseUS was a disaster, chugging away for hours to pull corrupt versions of video files that could not be played.

Try the Data Rescue demo to see what you can access. It's free for starters:

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I've had similar experiences with a 4GB drive containing video files and it was never clear to me what was happening. Files appeared to be totally inaccessible, but later the HD spontaneously revived long enough to transfer everything to another drive.
What is a bit puzzling is that the HDD continued to work after the drop and I could play a video file. The drive became inaccessible only after the force eject.

From my experience DiskWarrior didn't perform very well in rescuing files, especially if it was not used all along when files were created. At last use it was falling behind on modern formatting and would not work with Big Sur.
I haven't used DiskWarrior for many years, perhaps more than ten. So I don't know how capable it could detect the drive and rebuild the directory, assuming that's the problem.

Earlier this year I accidentally erase another HDD!!! Not another mysterious drive failure to mount but I erased it. I used Disk Drill to do the file recovery. DD recovered many, many files but the original filenames were gone. It has been a painful exercise to sort through the huge number of files and I am still doing it batch by batch.

I emailed a tech at an authorized Apple reseller in Toronto. He no longer works there and another staff replies that the HDD could have suffered a physical damage. When macOS tries to mount the drive I could hear the spinning and feel the vibration. After quite a few seconds all activities stop. The Apple reseller recommends this place.
 

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Yes, my disk also worked on and off. No explanation. I would recommend just sitting on that drive for a few days and trying again. You never know.

File recovery with partial filenames is brutal and almost useless. Video files are hard to recover because you don't know what they look like all the way through.

Data recovery companies are good, but charge a LOT of money, so the files have to be very precious to be worth it--or you have to be able to tell them exactly which files you want recovered. I see they also sell Mac data recovery software on the site, but that would be useless if the disk is mechanically damaged. Most of these companies can remove the platters and place them into a working drive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
File recovery with partial filenames is brutal and almost useless. Video files are hard to recover because you don't know what they look like all the way through.
In my case with the HDD that I accidentally erased, I got very different filenames with the recovered files. The name for each recovered file is pretty much useless. For example, an image might be named Adobe Photoshop CS4-614x375-003464.jpg. Totally useless without opening the file to see what is it. So far I have yet to come across a PDF file.

The recovered video files are challenging to check. Unless I really want to save a particular video, I probably will give up. In all honesty when would I watch these videos again?

Data recovery companies are good, but charge a LOT of money, so the files have to be very precious to be worth it--or you have to be able to tell them exactly which files you want recovered. I see they also sell Mac data recovery software on the site, but that would be useless if the disk is mechanically damaged. Most of these companies can remove the platters and place them into a working drive.
I know that data recovery in a clean room costs a lot of money. I will not go that far. All the files in the dropped HDD are videos.

I will leave the HDD a few days to see if it miraculously mounts again. Perhaps I should get a new 1TB HDD or SSD in case the dropped HDD revives, then I can transfer all the files over.
 

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The good news is that the platten itself is extremely durable. Take it from someone who had to destroy one which contained sensitive data. Your drive platten probably suffered little or even zero damage.

The bad news is recovery involves finding a matching HD, removing the platten without damaging the rest of that drive and then installing your platten in that drive, then copying it over to a new HD.

That part about not damaging the surrogate drive can be pretty tricky. HD recovery services know they have you over a barrel and are fully prepared to charge all the market can bear.

In the future please remember it ain't backed up unless the back up is backed up, and if it's really important back that up as well.
 

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It is of course also possible that it was the drive enclosure which was damaged. Might be worth putting the drive in an another enclosure before going to the extreme expense of paying someone else to recover.

If this is a 2.5" HDD that does not require its own power source, this cable would probably do the trick. Last I checked Amazon would not deliver these outside of TO and maybe Montreal, no idea as to their reasoning. Only reason I suggested this one is I believe it has TRIM support, should you switch over to an SSD.
 

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What is a bit puzzling is that the HDD continued to work after the drop and I could play a video file. The drive became inaccessible only after the force eject.
That video file no doubt was in memory and playing from there.

I would suggest that the HDD drive has been damaged and cannot locate or open any files, and it sounds like your only option Is to try some sort of data rescue, And if it doesn't mount with Disk Utility, I would be surprised if Diwarrior could do anything to rescue any files and it is probably already too late to try.

Am sorry to rub salt into the wound, but you have just displayed an excellent example of why a single backup is not enough. My condolences... Sorry... 😔


- Patrick
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I will leave the HDD a few days to see if it miraculously mounts again. Perhaps I should get a new 1TB HDD or SSD in case the dropped HDD revives, then I can transfer all the files over.
Either of those Drives would be an excellent Idea and you may be able to use either of them for a drive enclosure, well at least the HDD drive, In case you wanted to try using the droped drive Inside with a recovery attempt, or the cable adapter that eMacMan suggested usually work well on bare drives, At least if and when they are USB self-powered.


- Patrick
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Oddly enough, I've noticed a difference between USB and Firewire connections in whether a disk will mount. I have no explanation for it, but Firewire seems to work more often.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It is of course also possible that it was the drive enclosure which was damaged. Might be worth putting the drive in an another enclosure before going to the extreme expense of paying someone else to recover.
I put the dropped drive in another USB enclosure, didn't mount. I haven't tried a FireWire enclosure but will do so.

If this is a 2.5" HDD that does not require its own power source, this cable would probably do the trick. Last I checked Amazon would not deliver these outside of TO and maybe Montreal, no idea as to their reasoning. Only reason I suggested this one is I believe it has TRIM support, should you switch over to an SSD.
Thanks for the suggestion. I may end up trying this approach too.
 

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I used Disk Drill to do the file recovery. DD recovered many, many files but the original filenames were gone. It has been a painful exercise to sort through the huge number of files and I am still doing it batch by batch.

1) Ain’t worth your time! Live with the memories you had them once.

Data recovery companies are good, but charge a LOT of money, so the files have to be very precious to be worth it--or you have to be able to tell them exactly which files you want recovered.

2) See 1) plus, ain’t worth your money.

In my case with the HDD that I accidentally erased, I got very different filenames with the recovered files. The name for each recovered file is pretty much useless. For example, an image might be named Adobe Photoshop CS4-614x375-003464.jpg. Totally useless without opening the file to see what is it. So far I have yet to come across a PDF file.

3) This has happened to me way too often. We no longer have any family photos, tens of thousands of scanned books, our favourite music. I'll never bother with "recovery" again because it just don't work!

Sorry to say, you’re hooped, Brother. The takeaway is make a backup & then backup that backup. Your data ain’t safe unless there are three copies.

(Hope FW works, though!)





(I have 87TB of data. How the eff do you back dat up?!?)
 

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Sorry to say, you’re hooped, Brother. The takeaway is make a backup & then backup that backup. Your data ain’t safe unless there are three copies.
Excellent advice, but possibly two recent and tested backup copies would a minimal number, but how many times have the warnings about having a decent recent backup gone unheeded on this and many other Mac forums???

And I would strongly suggest it doesn't matter whether it is a spinner or solid state, all storage systems are going to fail at some point, it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

My original 2011 iMac HDD died with its last Click Of Death this week, and is very unreliable even if it might mount. But no worry here as I have to recent CCC backup clones, and I just booted from one and carried on, and then ordered a 1TB OWC SSD replacement, that Purolator seems to have managed losing the tracking and won't deliver it until July 5th.

So once again, I along with many others I will send out a WARNING for anyone who has data of any importance, GET A BACKUP OF YOUR IMPORTANT DATA now, if you haven't done so already, and test it to make sure it works!!!

PS: hopefully I am wrong but I doubt very much if using firewire will help with any recovery, as I would suggest the drive itself has been damaged from the drop.

PPS: some of people's best memories are only available at the back of their minds. And easy to exaggerate as well when recalled... 😏 It can make things much more interesting when reminiscing... 😏


- Patrick
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For example, an image might be named Adobe Photoshop CS4-614x375-003464.jpg. Totally useless without opening the file to see what is it. .
Imagine 500 movie files, where the names are obliterated and where you actually have to watch each movie to determine whether the file corrupts some minutes in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Here's the latest with the dropped HDD. The day after the accident I connected the dropped HDD first to my 2011 unibody MBP, then the old 2007 Santa Rosa MBP. The drive didn't mount. I happened to have a 2015 iMac that I purchased on behalf of my friend two years ago. My friend didn't have a credit card at that time. He was ready to drive here from northern Ontario to pick up the machine then the pandemic happened. The dropped drive didn't mount on his iMac.

To test whether the drive enclosure was the issue, I removed the dropped HDD and put a healthy HDD in there. The healthy HDD mounted, so the issue wasn't with the USB enclosure. I put the dropped HDD in another USB enclosure. Didn't mount again.

Macfury suggested to use a FireWire enclosure. I let the drive sat for nearly a month and placed it in a FW enclosure two days ago. No go with mounting the drive.

The odds were against me to recover any file at this point. So I made one last attempt to scan the drive with Disk Drill. I didn't think that the scan would even start. Interestingly half a minute or so later Disk Drill began to show some files, but with useless alphanumeric filenames. The filesize looked right for a video. Disk Drill indicated that it would take over 100 hours to do the deep scan, so I stopped the operation after a few minutes.

Then I installed DiskWarrior 4 to see what it might find after a scan. About a minute later came this diagnostic report:

DiskWarrior has successfully built a new directory for the disk named "750GB Video HDD 2." The new directory cannot replace the original directory because of a disk malfunction.

A disk malfunction is a failure of or damage to any mechanical component of the disk device, or any component connected to it. The malfunction will likely worsen. Therefore, recovering your files from the DiskWarrior Preview as quickly as possible is essential.

It is highly recommended that you backup all of your data from the preview disk.

All file and folder data was easily located.

The disk was not mounted prior to rebuilding. Only the preview disk will appear if you preview the replacement directory.

Comparison of the original and replacement directories could not be performed because the original directory was too severely damaged. It is recommended that you preview the replacement directory.

• Errors, if any, in the directory structure such as tree depth, header node, map nodes, node size, node counts, node links, indexes and more have been repaired.

• Media errors were encountered during rebuilding. Some data may be missing because it could not be read from disk.

• 403 Files had a directory entry with an incorrect text encoding value that was repaired.

• 138 Folders had a directory entry with an incorrect text encoding value that was repaired.

• Incorrect values in the Volume Information were repaired.

• Critical values in the Volume Information were incorrect and were repaired.

Disk Information:

Files: 3,416
Folders: 212
Free Space: 27.05 GB
Format: Mac OS Extended
Block Size: 4,096
Disk Sectors: 1,464,477,344
Media: OWC Express USB 3.0

The DW replacement directory showed all the files and folders, with their names intact. I connected a brand new 1TB external HDD and started to copy the recovered files by batches. That took a whole day to finish copying all the files. DW showed the drive capacity and the amt. of free space in a drive. The difference is the amt. of usage. The usage numbers for both the dropped HDD and the new HDD are the same. Looked like DW recovered all the files intact.

I watched one video last night. No problem. This morning I scanned five videos in VLC in 30-second increments. If a video file has a large chunk of bits missing, at some point the video scrubbing would stall. No such problem either.

I got lucky this time!
 

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I got lucky this time!

It sounds like a bit of persistence on your part and some damn good programming on the part of DiskWarrior 4 came to the rescue.

But maybe having a backup if you have anything worth keeping might not be a bad idea to save an awful lot of extra work. But a hats off to DiskWarrior 4.



- Patrick
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Wow! Great outcome!

It has to be remembered that few of us are in a financial position to back up multiple TB. The most we can achieve is RAID.

I sure would like my 4TB of books back! Next time, DiskWarrior...
 

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Just leaving the disk to sulk for awhile seems to increase the chances of recovery. Never give up too soon! Glad it worked out.
 
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