Mac disk utility problem - data missing
February 23, 2014 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Never thought I would be posting a question along these lines, but here we go. So I had an external hard disk with two partitions. One NTFS and one HFS+. The NTFS partition was empty. I wanted to use the NTFS partition with Time Machine so I used Disk Utility to reformat it HFS+. When the format had completed, yes, the NTFS partition was now HFS+ BUT the other partition had disappeared. When I looked at it in disk utility it had a name like "disk32s".

It wasn't mounted and when I clicked 'mount' the Disk Utility view flashed/refreshed but nothing happened.

So it looks like somehow the partition map got wiped in the process. Great.

Disk Utility's own "repair" function won't run on it. I've tried DiskWarrior but a) when it starts it says it's inspecting the disk in a 'final' attempt at rescue, and b) only runs for an hour or so before crashing. I own a copy of SpinRite but haven't yet run that on it.

I *have* made a "backup" of the - what appears to be but I hope is not nothing.

So any tips on what applications to run on this drive? Ideally I would like filenames and tree structure intact as the contents were photos which will be a pain to sort through as the EXIF isn't reliable with the older ones for sorting purposes.

posted by dance to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Try Easeus HFS Recovery. I haven't used it, but their Partion Manager is magical and wonderful, and allowed me to pull a few rabbits out of hats from time to time.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:52 PM on February 23, 2014

Response by poster: Oh, I forgot, I also tried TestDisc, but that didn't work either. Ran for 48hrs then just outputted a load of nonsense.

I'll look into the HFS Recovery link but the we page didn't exactly inspire confidenc; what with the repitition and typos it read like search engine bait rather than a serious product's homepage. Still, with your endorsement of their other stuff it must be worth a try.
posted by dance at 3:07 PM on February 23, 2014

Oh, I just got bitten by something like this. Specifically, asking Time Machine to encrypt backups led to it taking over the whole disk, ignoring the partitions.

From Stack Exchange, a possible solution:
I'd recommend that you create the HFS+ partition on your Mac first, then, on your Windows computer, format the other partition to NTFS:

Plug your drive into your Mac.
Open Disk Utility (in Applications/Utilities).
Select the drive and select the Partition tab.
Create two partitions. Format the first partition as HFS+ …
Leave the other partition as "Free Space". ...
Eject the drive and plug it into your Windows computer.
Format the second partition as NTFS.

To prevent the NTFS partition from being mounted every time you connect the drive into your Mac add this entry to /etc/fstab (as explained here):
LABEL=BACKUP_WINDOWS none fusefs_txantfs noauto
Replace BACKUP_WINDOWS with the NTFS partition name.

On re-reading: wait, what's this about photos? Were they on NTFS or HFS+?
posted by Pronoiac at 3:54 PM on February 23, 2014

Response by poster: They were on the HFS+ partition. So really My question centres around recovering the data. Thanks!
posted by dance at 12:41 AM on February 24, 2014

Which partition took the first part of the disk? Testdisk may be able to be useful more quickly.

Have you looked at the backup?
posted by Pronoiac at 1:55 PM on February 24, 2014

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