Best Program for Recovering a Partition?

I have a 3 TB thunderbolt drive, formatted as exFat, which I was using for data storage. Yesterday I booted up my Mac and found that the drive wouldn't mount. Disk utility shows an unformatted drive. I tried it with a PC, connecting via USB, and had same result.

Does anyone have a recommended method for recovering the partition? In the past, I've used programs such as Puran to recover individual files, with limited success. I'm wondering if there's a better solution.
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

I assume that you must also be using the drive with a Windows computer or you would not be using ExFat. (HFS+ is the preferred native Mac format.)

Can you connect the drive to a Windows computer and try running fix disk errors with Windows 7 or above?
Thomas Zucker-ScharffSolution GuideCommented:
If you have a windows computer I recommend Paragon software.  Get the software from  You may qualify for an evaluation copy if you are in any of the categories on this page:
I like gparted, but it doesn't work for exFat partitions. One tool that does work with exFat is PartedMagic.

A great website for finding alternative software packages is AlternativeTo.
SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager (NCM)

SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager brings structure and peace of mind to configuration management. Bulk config deployment, automatic backups, change detection, vulnerability assessments, and config change templates reduce the time needed for repetitive tasks.

dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Can't say which ones are the best but I have used

Partition Recovery (costs money)

TestDisk (free to use, not user friendly, read the documentation on the site carefully)

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Mohammed KhawajaManager - Infrastructure:  Information TechnologyCommented:
I second partition recovery software.
Test Disk requires a lot of Manual massaging and organizing of individual files.  There are many more usable Windows recovery tools that are free.  If you only have a Mac to do recovery, you're going to have to pay for the recovery tools that are easier to use.
try the free easeus partition recovery :
rvfowler2Author Commented:
I downloaded Active Partition Recovery, will report the results tonight.
RV, are you sharing this drive with a PC? If not, it should be formatted as Mac format.
it seems he did not look at what was said here
rvfowler2Author Commented:
Having some issues with Active Partition Recovery; quick scan showed the volume with all its files, but could not recover. It actually said something like the volume wasn't damaged, and offered me the option to copy it to another drive, but that failed. I'm currently running a deep scan to see if I get the same results. As a last resort, I could always try recovering individual files, which is a pain because it wipes out the file names and directory structure.

By the way, fixing disk errors won't work because Windows thinks the disk is unformatted.
I tried repairing the boot sector with Active Partition Recovery, which did nothing.
Thomas Zucker-ScharffSolution GuideCommented:
Do you have a 'nix box you can mount the drive on, or download something like ubuntu or makulu and boot from a USb stick or DVD?
rvfowler2Author Commented:
No unix box available, not sure how feasible those other options are.
I guess if I can rescue a few key files, I'll be able to make do.
Will leave thread open for another day or so.
You should be able to boot linux from USB.  Get one of the Live CDs, so you don't have to install anything.  That way you don't clobber any disk partitions.

It seems that Macs frequently have problems with ExFAT.  Try the following instructions from the apple link.
1. Open Terminal.
2. Run the following command:
sudo fsck_exfat -d disk0s4
, where disk0s4 is your disk.
3. Enter the root's password, when you're prompted to.
   This might take a little while, depending on how many files you have on the disk.
4. Enter Yes, when this message appears: Main boot region needs to be updated.
5. Restart your computer, and everything should be fine.
I suggest that once you recover the partition, you should convert the partition to a Journaled  HFS+.
Copy the files to another storage medium.
Change the 3 TB disk to HFS+ Journaled.
Copy the files back
rvfowler2Author Commented:
I recovered most of my files using Active Partition Recovery app. I may tinker with some of the other methods suggested, but for now I'm good.
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Disaster Recovery

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.