Repairing Mac External Hard Drive without Disk Utility

Your external hard drive is as important as your internal Mac hard drive. No one can afford to lose the data stored on external hard drive due to whatsoever reasons. Unfortunately, at times, there may arise a situation where an unexpected event damages the directory structure or partition map of the external hard drive. This makes data or the drive itself to be inaccessible. In this article, we will elaborate the importance of directories, how they may get corrupted, manual method to recover from such disruptions and third party tool to recover data from a corrupt drive on Mac.

Below we discuss an extremely important aspect of the file accessibility on any hard drive.

Disk Directory and its importance

Directory on an external hard drive is the space reserved to store information such as location of files on the disk and name of files stored. It is updated periodically with each action taken viz addition, deletion and update of files on the hard disk drive. It is extremely important that directory is smoothly updated so that the disk remains in a healthy state. A severely corrupt directory will not only make data inaccessible, but may also result in complete failure of the hard drive.

Cause of Directory corruption

It is helpful to understand why and under what circumstances a hard drive directory may become corrupt? Following situations may damage the hard drive directory which may not get fixed with Disk Utility application:

  1. A sudden removal of the external storage media without properly un-mounting it may lead to directory corruption. If the storage does not un-mount, it is advisable to check the running programs on the system that may be preventing from removal. Close those applications and then unmounts it safely.
  1. A system crash or power cut may abruptly shut the system down and proper update is not made to the directory which will lead to its corruption and cause data inaccessibility.
  1. An application or a program may inadvertently write into the directory space which restricts directory update. Failure to update the directory leads to inaccessibility and corruption on the disk.
  1. A malware residing on the system corrupts the directory and restricts any access to the drive. It will perform write operations on the space intended for directories.

Manual alternative to the repair hard drive without Disk Utility

The Disk Utility may not be able to fix the issue of directory corruption. In such a case, macOS Terminal application can be used to run the filesystem check command. Filesystem check command will look for any errors, including directory issues, on the disks and attempt to repair them. Here’s how it works:

  • Go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal
  • Type df –hl, this will list the hard drives and note down the external drive’s filesystem ID that appears after. Example, /dev/external_storage_id
  • Run sudo fsck_hfs –l /dev/external_storage_id (enter your system password if prompted)
  • Run the command again until it says volume OK

Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac

Stellar provides third party software that helps to recover the data from corrupt drive by creating image of drive having bad directory structure.

Steps to recover the corrupt drive via Stellar application

  1. Launch the software
  2. Choose Recover Data from the main menu
  3. Now toggle the file types to customize scan
  4. Choose the drive to create its image and press the Scan button. Program will initiate the imaging process.
  5. Software will create image of the drive and the created image will display in drive lis

Precautions and best practices

A directory corruption may become a serious issue and may lead to complete damage to the hard drive making data completely inaccessible. Below mentioned best practices will lessen the chances of such damage to occur:

  1. Backup power source for the system is helpful in protecting damages against a sudden power failure.
  2. Periodic data backup can ensure that most important and vital information remains accessible all the time in an event of such an inaccessibility issue.
  3. Proper un-mounting an external drive before removal is necessary to protect the drive from directory corruption and make sure that all updates are made to the directory.

Be thoughtful while attempting to abruptly shutdown the system, as this is the most likely scenario that will lead to the directory corruption.

Comments(6)
  1. Max March 22, 2016
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