Getting data off the bare drive of a mac HFS formatted hard drive

Posted on 2012-12-30
Last Modified: 2012-12-30
Helping a friend with this - they have a mac with WD external 'for mac' USB hard drive.  The mini ubs connector got wrecked 'somehow' and I thought it would be a cinch to take the bare drive out, connect it to a USB to SATA adapter I have and copy data to a new USB hard drive they have.

I started with a windows PC with several different HFS drivers installed / uninstalled.  Connecting the new 'for mac' hard drive in the windows PC, it sees 2 partitions - a 'cd drive' partition with apps, instructions, etc. and another HFS formatted empty hard drive.  so the hfs drivers would appear to work (I uninstalled / installed new drivers over the last few days seeing if 1 was better than another.  and I have 2 different USB / SATA adapters and tried them also).

Through all that, the win PC saw that old bare drive as an unknown partition.  I connected the drive to a Mac and got 'this drive is unrecognizable' message and chose ignore, NOT initialize.

I tried several windows apps trying to get data back, including RAISE, which is specific for HFS?  at best they found some files, likely the ones that would be on the CD drive part of the drive.

I then connected the drive to a mac and ran the trial of data rescue 3.  Same thing - just a few files, not the hundreds of mp3s that should be on there.

I want to try diskwarrior on the mac, but there doesn't seem to be a trial?!

Any thoughts on what else to try? Frustrating that the drive spins, no clunking, data rescue testing shows the drive is OK physically, but no data from any of these apps : (
LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 38731189
Try a professional recovery, but it is probably too late for you.  It would have been mounted read/write and your efforts only destroyed data.

Had you made a image copy onto a scratch drive or partition first, and worked with the clone and booted the Mac off the recovery CD then you could have used the native apple tools to safely put that data on another disk, or a drive on the network.  

At this point only a pro with a binary editor and expensive software that has no free trials is the only way to go.

If data is worth $500+ then consider getting a free estimate from somebody who knows what they are doing.  Otherwise, reformat and move on.
LVL 46

Assisted Solution

noxcho earned 167 total points
ID: 38731198
Was this wd drive using some encryption? What type of data was on it? How many partitions did it have when it was in a working state?

Author Comment

ID: 38731271
nox: No encryption that I know about.  music was on it.  2 partitions I would think - the Utiliity partition that would show up  as a CD and then the HFS partition, like on the new hard drive.

found this:

I guy's WD external hard drive's USB connector broke and all the data was lost.
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LVL 46

Expert Comment

ID: 38731310
Ok what is the size of the drive? And which drivers did you use specifically?

Author Comment

ID: 38731370
it's a 2 gb drive.  and now we're on the mac using drive warrior 4.4.

it calls this an unknown drive
'directory cannot be rebuilt, the size of this standard disk is unsupported.
LVL 19

Assisted Solution

marsilies earned 166 total points
ID: 38731378
What's the brand/model of the SATA-to-USB adapter you're using? Have you tried a different adapter or enclosure? Can you connect it directly to the PC via SATA?

PhotoRec, despite its name, can recover many different file types, even from a damaged file system:

Author Comment

ID: 38731408
brand / model - it's a roswill unit.  I have another usb-sata that the physical drive isn't seen at all.  this one at least sees the drive.  I only have mac laptops.  even with imacs - can you add a 2nd sata drive? Everything is so compact.
LVL 70

Accepted Solution

garycase earned 167 total points
ID: 38731409
At this stage, given when you've documented both here and in your previous related question, it's clear the drive is damaged beyond the ability of standard recovery software.    If the data's important enough, it's time to send it off to a good data recovery company;  otherwise, just toss the drive.

This is a good choice for a reasonably priced recovery outfit:
LVL 46

Expert Comment

ID: 38731479
2TB or 2GB? I doubt you want to pay for music recovery. Have you tired Paragon HFS for Windows to get access to the drive in Windows and connecting the drive directly to motherboard sata connector?

Author Comment

ID: 38731536
2TB sorry! yes, tried hfs, installed it right into a windows pc on a sata cable, still no luck.

I just envision someone else coming along with something and getting it to work.  A mac with sata cable so the usb / sata adapter is out of the equation.

I took apart a USB 3 my book essentials I had to get to the internal usb / sata adapter.  using that one, the mac said its an unrecognised drive, I chose ignore, then no apps saw the physical drive at all.

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