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Old 03-09-2012, 07:12 PM   #1
Guitarfreak
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Exclamation HD failing, but which one? Both?

I own a home project recording studio which relies on my iMac computer which records direct to an external drive, a WD My Book 500GB via USB2.0. Recently my rig has been acting up and now my computer and the external drive won't acknowledge each other.

It's tough to say everything that happened and the correct order, but I will try...

For a while my computer has been freezing up for no reason (I did some research and found that this was due to a recent OSX update and is triggered by video of any kind, well in my case it wasn't always video that made it lock up irrecoverably, sometimes audio or seemingly any sort of system stress at all would cause it) and when it did this the only way to regain control of the computer was to turn it off by holding the power switch until it shuts down. It is a very frustrating occurrence.

More recently, my external HD has been nearing full capacity. Around this time my rig started doing some strange things, but I don't know if it is related to the HD being full or not, it may just be a coincidence. Randomly and without warning, the external will spin down and the computer will flash a "device not removed properly, data may have been lost" warning. When it did this, it would occur in spurts of 4 or 5 times, and then re-link with the computer. Whether the computer or the external is the cause of this I do not know, and that is part of my reason for asking. I have had an internal HD go bad on me before, and these sort of weird unexplainable things happened as well, so it could be internal HD failure as well.

Well this spindown happened one too many times and now my computer can no longer read from the external drive at all. I tried doing an SMC reset (power off Mac, unplug power cable, and hold power button for 10 seconds) and that did not change anything. The external shows up in disk utility and system profiler, but I can not mount it nor run maintenance scripts on it. When I got the drive, I had it formatted in OSX journaled format, but now Disk Utility says that it cannot read the format the disk is in. I need to be able to access the content on this disk at the very least so that I can transfer it all to a brand new drive. I have downloaded a demo version of file salvage, which only offers disk analysis, and to my knowledge, the external HD seemed to check out with no errors according to the software. I thought about disk warrior, but my Macs' disk drive is shot, and has been for a good while. I need a new computer, I realize this, but right now I just need to either get all of the data on this external drive copied to another drive, or get it to re-link with the system drive. How can I do this?
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Last edited by Guitarfreak; 03-09-2012 at 07:15 PM.
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Old 03-09-2012, 08:44 PM   #2
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ricede

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitarfreak
I thought about disk warrior, but my Macs' disk drive is shot, and has been for a good while.

If you know of another mac, which has disk warrior INSTALLED on it - you can start your mac in Target Disk Mode from that mac & run Disk Warrior through it.
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Old 03-10-2012, 08:23 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ricede
If you know of another mac, which has disk warrior INSTALLED on it - you can start your mac in Target Disk Mode from that mac & run Disk Warrior through it.

Cool idea. I do not as of this time own a copy of DW, but I may need to purchase one to rescue this drive.

I tried plugging the external up to a different Mac with a known good version of OSX, and received the same error as my computer did. I guess this is enough to say that the issue lies with the external drive.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:32 PM   #4
DavidRavenMoon
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Most drives have the S.M.A.R.T. disk checking. You can test this both in Diskwarrior or Disk Utility. That should let you know if the drive is reporting a problem.
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:12 PM   #5
Guitarfreak
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Originally Posted by DavidRavenMoon
Most drives have the S.M.A.R.T. disk checking. You can test this both in Diskwarrior or Disk Utility. That should let you know if the drive is reporting a problem.

Ok. I just checked Disk Utility and for this particular drive, it said S.M.A.R.T. status - Not Supported. I can't recall if it said anything different when it was working correctly.

Here is an interesting thing, doesn't really have anything to do with the topic, but the HD in question has only 500GB of user space, but upon failure, my computer acknowledges it as a 2TB drive instead of a 500GB drive. Does this mean that all this time it has been an actual 2TB drive, and I was only able to use a 500GB partition of that drive? Pretty neat. I can't imagine that this is the only hard drive in the world which does this, maybe companies just buy only the largest drives in bulk to save money and then lock the rest of the space to create a smaller cheaper drive. Maybe there are ways to overcome this limitation and utilize the locked space on the drive?
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:31 AM   #6
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Does this mean that all this time it has been an actual 2TB drive, and I was only able to use a 500GB partition of that drive?

That is not common practice, no. You can open up your Western Digital MyBook case and check the sticker on the internal drive to see what it's actual capacity is.

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Old 03-13-2012, 02:13 AM   #7
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You can test this both in Diskwarrior or Disk Utility.
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Old 03-15-2012, 11:25 PM   #8
Guitarfreak
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I've been playing with this for the last few days, and still have not come up with anything. A friend of mine has Disk Warrior, so we tried that. I have tried to run Disk Warrior on the bad drive, and it sees my two other drives, but won't even acknowledge the presence of the drive that I want to detect. The drive still shows up in Disk Utility though, so a physical connection is established.

Out of curiosity, what does the Disk Utility "restore" function do? I am guessing nothing that I would be interested in.

If I were to use Disk Utility to create 1 large partition that spans the entire width of the drive (currently an empty partition map), would that delete the content on the drive? Or is it possible that this may re-establish a readable connection with the drive?
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Old 03-16-2012, 07:40 AM   #9
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Disk Utility "Restore" is used to "restore" a disk image to a hard drive partition.

Disk Utility sees your external hard drive, as a device.
Disk Warrior will not do much if there's no usable partition. If you have an "empty partition map", then that would mean 'no partition', and no data, so any contents have already been wiped.
What happens if you boot, then open Disk Utility, click the Partition tab, and choose to create that single partition on your external HD? Does that even complete? If it does, then you will be able to try Disk Warrior, because a partition exists then.
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Old 03-16-2012, 09:56 AM   #10
Guitarfreak
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeltaMac
Disk Utility "Restore" is used to "restore" a disk image to a hard drive partition.

Disk Utility sees your external hard drive, as a device.
Disk Warrior will not do much if there's no usable partition. If you have an "empty partition map", then that would mean 'no partition', and no data, so any contents have already been wiped.
What happens if you boot, then open Disk Utility, click the Partition tab, and choose to create that single partition on your external HD? Does that even complete? If it does, then you will be able to try Disk Warrior, because a partition exists then.

Ok, thank you. Before I try this, I am confused about one thing. What is the significance of the boot action? Am I just supposed to perform this action following a fresh boot, or do I have to access Disk Utility from outside of OSX by booting directly to it?
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Old 03-16-2012, 10:38 AM   #11
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The "boot action" is not particularly significant, except you need to be booted to some OS X system, either on your internal drive, or an Installer partition or DVD, to use Disk Utility.
So, start (also called "boot") your Mac, and run Disk Utility. The significant part now, is that you want to check if your external hard drive actually already has a partition (it will show as the manufacturer's info line, WD something/partnumber, and then one line additional for each partition. Click on the Manuf line to see how your drive is partitioned (the partition scheme), and click on each partition line to see what type of partition you have (such as MacOS Extended, or fat32)
If the drive is formatted with only one partition, and it's blank, then you can try changing the partition scheme to 1 partition, and see if the partitioning will complete successfully. I suspect it will not, because your hard drive (the WD external) is faulty.
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:18 PM   #12
Guitarfreak
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeltaMac
The "boot action" is not particularly significant, except you need to be booted to some OS X system, either on your internal drive, or an Installer partition or DVD, to use Disk Utility.
So, start (also called "boot") your Mac, and run Disk Utility. The significant part now, is that you want to check if your external hard drive actually already has a partition (it will show as the manufacturer's info line, WD something/partnumber, and then one line additional for each partition. Click on the Manuf line to see how your drive is partitioned (the partition scheme), and click on each partition line to see what type of partition you have (such as MacOS Extended, or fat32)
If the drive is formatted with only one partition, and it's blank, then you can try changing the partition scheme to 1 partition, and see if the partitioning will complete successfully. I suspect it will not, because your hard drive (the WD external) is faulty.

This makes me very sad, I tried to apply the partition and got an input/output error. Is there no one that I can pay to have this data transferred? Honestly? Nothing can be done?

This makes no sense to me. Years ago I studied how hard drives store, catalog, and retrieve information, and when a HD fails, the data is still there, but the native HD directory doesn't know where it is or what to call it because it can't tell it apart from free space. The data is supposed to be retrievable by external software... but in this case it seems there is nothing there and never will be again...

I am probably sounding thickheaded at this point, and believe me I am, but the information on this hard drive is very valuable to me. I was actually in the process of purchasing a new external HD to replace this one, but I guess I wasn't quick enough by just that much. For instance, if I were to purposely erase the drive, it would take processing power and lots of time, and somebody may still be able to recover certain files after a 7 pass zero out if they had the right software, yet at the flick of a light switch, 500GB of data is gone and will never be seen again, why is this?

I am actually asking because I'd like to learn, not to argue, just for fear of coming off the wrong way. Thanks.
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:36 PM   #13
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You can also try dedicated data recovery software, such as Disk Drill, or Data Rescue 3

and then -
There's always the option of a data recovery service.
Drivesavers is really good at this. http://www.drivesaversdatarecovery.com/
You can call them for a good quote.
You also get to put an actual dollar amount on the value of your files....
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:29 AM   #14
soho
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I'm surprised Disk Warrior can't see the drive and Disk Utility can. I recently had a HD melt down and like you Disk Image could see it but not mount it. My 4.1 version of DW saw the drive as 'disc1' or something but not its real name, DW managed to create and mount a 'Preview' disc on the desktop which I managed to get all the data from.
Are you sure it's not listed under a default name and you missed it, I nearly did.
Good luck.
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soho
I'm surprised Disk Warrior can't see the drive and Disk Utility can. I recently had a HD melt down and like you Disk Image could see it but not mount it. My 4.1 version of DW saw the drive as 'disc1' or something but not its real name, DW managed to create and mount a 'Preview' disc on the desktop which I managed to get all the data from.
Are you sure it's not listed under a default name and you missed it, I nearly did.
Good luck.

I am also using DW 4.1. I really wish that the problem were this simple, but in my case it does not seem to be. The Disk Warrior console sees only one hard drive, named "Macintosh HD" which is my boot disk.
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Old 03-20-2012, 12:17 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitarfreak
This makes me very sad, I tried to apply the partition and got an input/output error. Is there no one that I can pay to have this data transferred? Honestly? Nothing can be done?

Yes, there are people you can pay. Drivesavers, for just one well-known example: http://www.drivesaversdatarecovery.com/

There are still some things you can do yourself. Find a Mac that accepts more than one hard drive, such as a Mac Pro. Remove the hard drive from inside the Western Digital case, and put it into the Mac Pro. Try to access it that way. (This avoids problems with the USB cable and USB case, and gives you much more direct access to the hard drive.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitarfreak
This makes no sense to me. Years ago I studied how hard drives store, catalog, and retrieve information, and when a HD fails, the data is still there, but the native HD directory doesn't know where it is or what to call it because it can't tell it apart from free space.

This is indeed one thing that can go wrong with hard drives. There are also lots of other ways that drives fail, and you can't assume it's always the way you mention. For example, the actual hard drive inside your WD case might be flawless in every way but the USB bridge board has become defective. That's what we're checking by moving the internal drive from the case to an actual Mac--we eliminate the possibility of a problem with the case or cable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitarfreak
The data is supposed to be retrievable by external software... but in this case it seems there is nothing there and never will be again...

There's no reason to assume anything at this point without information.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitarfreak
I am probably sounding thickheaded at this point, and believe me I am, but the information on this hard drive is very valuable to me. I was actually in the process of purchasing a new external HD to replace this one, but I guess I wasn't quick enough by just that much. For instance, if I were to purposely erase the drive, it would take processing power and lots of time, and somebody may still be able to recover certain files after a 7 pass zero out if they had the right software, yet at the flick of a light switch, 500GB of data is gone and will never be seen again, why is this?

Normal people (no matter how leet their cracker status is) can't recover files after a 7 pass zero out. People who believe that are paranoid and probably believe that the earth is flat, too. Paranoid people speculate that the NSA can recover files in that circumstance, because they speculate all sorts of godlike powers to shadowy governmental agencies. And since other people can't disprove that the NSA can do that, the paranoid statements get repeated. I can't definitively say whether the NSA can or cannot recover files after a 7 pass zero out, but companies like DriveSavers can't so I very much doubt it, and certainly don't lose any sleep over it. If anyone is that worried about the NSA recovering their files, they should drill a hole in their hard drive.

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Old 03-21-2012, 09:10 AM   #17
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That's a good idea putting the troubled hard drive into your MacBook Pro and booting from an external, then run DW again to see if it can see the drive. It's worth a shot.

Personally I have had two very bad experiences with HD recovery companies in as much that some unscrupulous companies rely on the fact you are so desperate to get your data back they lead you along a path asking for payments for each so called 'recovery stage', which in my case and many others resulted in no data and a huge bill. I'm sure the guys recommended above are fine but do beware of others.

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Old 04-29-2012, 12:13 AM   #18
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I removed the drive from the case and connected it to my computer via separate power supply and SATA >USB cables, which I recently purchased and had nothing to do with the previous diagnosis, with no difference in performance. I guess the only thing left to do is contact one of these recovery firms and hold my breath... No other possible DIY sort of fixes? Maybe Ill run through the previously stated steps using the new interface and see if it works any better.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:48 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitarfreak
the information on this hard drive is very valuable to me.

No one else has said it so far in this thread, but: BACKUP!
This is why we have backups. Hard drives fail.

I'm not merely rubbing salt into the wound: I'm hoping that you (and other read this) will learn that if you want to keep a file, you need more than one copy of it on more than one device.
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