Get files off an OS X hard drive
July 19, 2010 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Recover Files from an partially corrupt hard drive

My Wife has a 3 year old Intel Imac who's hard drive was on its way out. She took it to a local Tech and had the hard drive replaced. We now have the old drive and she would like to recover some Photoshop files that are still on it. Assuming its not completely dead, would we be able to purchase an external enclosure and use it to plug it into the mac? If this was a windows PC i would be more on my game but I'm not familiar with OSX and how the drives are partitioned . We basically hope to drill down to the specific folder and recover the old actions she had configured. What type of enclosure should we buy and will this even work?
posted by slowtree to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Did the drive actually fail, or was this a pre-emptive strike? If you think the drive is still basically functional, you could get one of these Universal Drive Adapters. There isn't really anything different about doing this on a Mac than you would on a PC.

If the drive actually was failing and there was data corruption, I like DiskWarrior as a good tool to have on hand for salvaging stuff. But that's a crapshoot and if you really want it done right you have to pony up for DriveSavers or a similar expensive service.

(While you're buying the enclosure, you're going to get an external drive for Time Machine backup too, right?)
posted by bcwinters at 12:54 PM on July 19, 2010

The partitioning doesn't matter to the enclosure, it just presents a mass storage device to the OS without regard for the contents. Any Firewire or USB enclosure would work equally well (modulo cooling.)
posted by Rhomboid at 12:54 PM on July 19, 2010

Try TestDisk. It's free, open source, and multi-platform. It is a command line tool. It is very flexible. I have recovered files on linux hosts from NTFS and HFS disks.

Read the documentation thoroughly.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 12:58 PM on July 19, 2010

Anything on this list of enclosures should work.

(You want a powered enclosure that will accept a 3.5" SATA hard drive, and has a USB or Firewire (1394) external interface).

Your first step would be to simply plug it in, and see if the drive shows up. You may be able to simply drag & drop the files from the bad drive to the good one.
posted by schmod at 12:59 PM on July 19, 2010

When the boot partition of my hard drive on my Macbook had some corrupt sectors and my drive was on its way out, I was able to grab a SATA to USB cable with a plug and pull everything that I needed off of that just by plugging it in and then finding it as an "external drive" and dragging and dropping, as schmod suggests above, no fancy software needed. Occasionally there were bad sectors, but I got everything other than a few random photos off of it.

The cable I purchased was very much like this one and was essentially just plugged in and it worked. My computer is just under four years old, so it's likely that the two have similar hard drives.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:15 PM on July 19, 2010

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