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Thread: I KILLED 2 Ext HDDs - Help !!!

  1. #1
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    Default I KILLED 2 Ext HDDs - Help !!!

    Hi All and Happy New Year.

    Not sure where this should be posted but hopefully someone will point it in the right direction.

    I have two external HDD, one 1 TB and one 2 TB that both lost their data on the same day. The external docks are a USB 2.0 Aluratek 2 bay Duplicator/Dock or USB 2.0 Thermaltake single bay Dock. These were my backup and copy of backup drives.

    Let me explain:

    Both drives were formatted as exFAT on a MAC MINI, mid 2010, running the most current update of Mountain Lion. ExFAT was used as both drives were going to be read/write accessible to MAC and Windows computers. I’m new to MACs and very old regarding Windows and my reading lead me to believe that exFAT was the way to go.

    On the 2 TB drive, I have no idea what happened, it just showed up as no data after connecting it to the MINI. The 1 TB drive was incredibly slow to show files and it wasn’t responding. I had prepared a different 1 TB drive with ‘Mac OS Extended (Journaled)’ formatting to copy the exFAT drive contents to and eliminate some duplicate data. The 1 TB exFAT drive only had about 14% free space and I wanted a backup copy in MAC’s native language.

    Do to the 1 TB exFAT not responding, I let the MINI’s Disk Utility check and repair the drive. The message reported (going from memory) something like “an entry was found beyond the allocation table / and was corrected. Great, problem solved….NOT. Now the 1 TB exFAT shows no data and all the space as “free”.

    I’ve been careful to not write anything to the disk, I hope, but have analyzed it with an EaseUS software package that checked the drive and it seems the files are there. They want close to $100 to buy the software but I have heard horror stories about the claims made from recovery software companies and spending $$$ for nothing.

    QUESTION: Is there a way to recover these files or rebuild the file allocation table from a backup…or does exFAT even use a backup? I was a pro photographer and most of my sports pix as well as various other important data was on these discs.

    I felt fairly safe with two HDD as storage while I cleaned up my data and setup a more permanent solution. Can believed I lost both drives in a single day! I was starting to like my decision to change over to Apple computers but maybe my lack of familiarity is too dangerous.

    Thank you for your assistance in advance and contact me if you need more detailed info about a particular aspect of this problem.

    Mitch

  2. #2
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    If this is a file structure problem then a software made to work on exFAT would be the best choice which probably means taking them to a windows machine. Personally I have never known anybody who used anything but HFS+ so I am kinda out of my depth here but sounds like your directory got hosed

    Do you have the ability to connect them via firewire? I dislike USB for hard drives and suspect USB first just as a general rule.

    You do know that you have to dismount the drives before unplugging them right? By dragging the volume icon to the trash can.. this can hose a directory pretty fast if you don't do this.

    DiskWarrior is supposed to be able to rebuild a broken directory but I am not sure that it supports exFAT. It might. DiskDrill has also been spoken well of.
    Damien,

  3. #3
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    Never used exFAT, but I would suspect that is the issue. Agreed: see if you can recover data on a Win box (or Boot Camp, or whatever OS is handy that will be agreeable).

    For cross platform stuff, I have found that even though FAT should work well, coming from a Win box (7 or XP), it seems wonky on the Mac at times. I have had the best luck with using Disk Utility, selecting DOS (which is really FAT). Once formatted, seem very stable on both Mac and Win OSes.

    I can't tell you what—if anything—is different, but it has been much more stable for me than formatting in Win, not to mention faster/easier to format and test. Maybe there is something...or maybe it is USB thing....dunno. Seen it enough to call it a trend though.

    Disclaimer: about 99% of the time I have used this for smaller transfer disks, and flash drives. Don't think I have ever used over 1TB, so can't swear for stability on larger volumes.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  4. #4
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    Default Still Nothing....

    Took the HDD to work where I have a SATA dock built into my PC. Connected it to the SATA dock and checked out the drive in Win 7, still reports the drive is empty.

    I originally formatted the drive on my Mini or MBA, not sure which, via USB but the exFAT was setup from an OS X machine.

    I'm not too concerned with the data on the 2 TB drive as 1 TB was movies and the other stuff was on the 1 TB drive as a backup copy. I would be willing to buy whatever software that people have used with some success, Windows or MAC, just don't want to get hosed by the software company's claims only to find out it doesn't work.

    It's not worth spending BIG bucks to have a company recover the data and teckdisk or one of those type of programs did see files but the scanning process was going to take days and I didn't want to risk writing to the drive so I thought I would check here first. I did order a firewire 800/USB 3 enclosure, with fan, in hopes the process might be a little faster. Also something about what Damien said regarding using USB for Hard Drives. On my windows systems, my backup drives were internal, mostly for speed, so never really thought about USB. Don't have thunderbolt on the Mini so opted for Firewire 800 and USB 3 for later use.

    Still looking for comments on recovery/restore software if anyone out there has any experience....good or bad.

    Thanks for the comments.

    Mitch

  5. #5
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    This is a challenge....as most here use Mac as their primary platform, and hence are most familiar with Mac specific tools. HD formats and file systems having the limits that they do, many of the most trusted Mac tools will only work on an HFS format.

    Disk Warrior is where we would start, if you had access.....and if this was an HFS volume. TechTool and Drive Genius would be good to try too....

    But since this is not a HFS volume, I'm afraid you will need some Win or cross platform recovery tools. Had a trusted source use and eval a bunch of recovery tools a while back. Keep in mind this was for a HFS volume, but the one he liked best:

    http://www.r-tt.com/data_recovery_macintosh/

    I see they include the format you need. Cross platform is nice, so you have it for future use on just about any volume/platform. Another option, though I have only heard second hand reports:

    http://www.binarybiz.com/vlab/windows.html


    Data Rescue is arguably the most popular (not necessarily the best...) data recovery tool for Macs, but I have not used their PC version myself. If you go with a PC specific (only) tool, there is a long list, but I have very little personal experience with them. If it is quiet here, I assume the same is true of most folks lurking here too.

    File Salvage has always worked well for me too, and I see FAT support, but not exFAT specifically.

    I can't vouch for all of the data recovery tools out there, but most will never write back to the drive you scan. The goods ones certainly don't. Period. Only danger is stress on a failing HD, which should not be the case with your situation.
    Last edited by unclemac; 01-09-2013 at 11:22 AM.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  6. #6
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    I don't know much about exFAT, so I went looking.

    Now I know a little more:

    exFAT

    In this glorious year 2012 in the new millennium, it is rather astonishing that there is not a common, open, unencumbered filesystem for Flash storage devices. Cameras, game consoles, music players, phones, and USB storage devices are everywhere, and it makes no sense to make something as fundamental as a filesystem into a roadblock. But it is, thanks to our good friends in Redmond.

    Microsoft's creaky old FAT filesystems, FAT16 and FAT32, have long been the de facto standard filesystems for Flash storage devices. They enable portability because FAT is supported on all major operating systems, and they don't have access controls so there are no permissions hassles-- just plug in your device and use it. But despite FAT's age and ubiquity, Microsoft successfully enforced its FAT patents against TomTom in 2009. TomTom agreed to drop FAT32 support from their products, several of which were built on Linux. Microsoft has also gone after Android vendors, such as Motorola, who use FAT.

    The legal landscape, as always, is bizarre. Linux can support FAT32 without paying royalties because of an inane technicality: long and short filenames. My fellow old codgers recall the 8.3 DOS filename convention: filenames could be no more than 8 characters long with a 3-character extension. This collided with grownup filesystems that supported longer filenames, which FAT truncated. And that is why something like nicelongfilename.txt would be shortened to nicelo~1.txt.

    When Microsoft finally figured out how to support longer filenames (up to 255 characters), they were able to patent this long filename extension to FAT. When Microsoft sued TomTom it caused a fair bit of worry that Linux developers and vendors would become litigation targets. Andrew Tridgell (one of the lead Samba developers) wrote a kernel patch to disable the creation of 8.3 short filenames. This was enough to dodge the long-filename patent, which covers implementations that support both short- and long-filenames. (I am not making this up; see for yourself.) If you need 8.3 support, use the msdos filesystem driver.

    FAT32's usefulness has been declining for some time anyway, because it cannot support files larger than 4GB, it's inefficient, and it becomes more inefficient with larger volume sizes. And so around 2009, there was a golden moment when manufacturers of all the nifty devices we use could have banded together and developed an open common filesystem. There are multiple benefits to this approach: data portability, ease of use, community support, and no royalties. It could even have been based on any of the excellent existing open source filesystems.

    But no. Microsoft blew the dust off exFAT, which was originally developed for Windows Embedded CE and is essentially FAT64, and made deals with the SD Association and hardware vendors. So SDXC memory cards are formatted with exFAT because it is part of the SDXC specification, and this month Sharp, Sigma, NextoDi, Black Magic and Atomos Global signed agreements to use exFAT on their products. This includes high-end camcorders, Android tablets, and digital cameras.

    Linux users have options, sort of. Tuxera sells a good exFAT driver, but only to OEMs, such as Android vendors. There is a free exfat driver, fuse-exfat, and it is included in several distros. This is built on fuse, filesystem in userspace. I've tested it a bit without problems, but the developers do not have access to any specifications and it's still young, so it has some rough edges. I would not rely on it for syncing a Linux PC with devices that use exFAT, like cameras and smartphones.
    Interesting that exFAT is in Disk Utility....given all the drama above.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  7. #7
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    Does lead one to wonder if a directory repair tool doesn't specifically need to be capable of handling exFAT. Would not surprise me if anything that doesn't list exFAT is incapable of repairing it.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
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  8. #8
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    Agreed. If I were standing in these shoes, I would be looking for an exFAT specific tool. R-Studio does list it.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  9. #9
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    R-Studio is a quality application. I have recommended it to several Mac users who had major problems.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  10. #10
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    WOW - Thank you for all the thought and research that went into your comments!

    I will check out R-studio and do a little research on the windows side of things. I used exFat to get past the 4 gb file limit as I have many .mkv video files that are 4+ gb in size. It seemed to be the most recommended for cross platform use. What worries me is somewhere I read that unlike fat32 or most of the other systems, there is no backup copy of the file allocation table (may have the terminology wrong...but hope you know what I mean). If OS X Disk Utility wiped it out during the "repair" process, I may be up the creek....or at the very least, have a quarter million or so files to rename during the recovery process.

    Thanks again for your help and I will report my successes, or experiences to the group once I've really messed things up. New firewire 800 enclosure should be here Thursday so plan on starting then.

    You all are great !

  11. #11
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    Good luck. Don't forget that most data recovery tools are slow and methodical, so let them chug away. Could be 12 hours or more. Review the contents thoroughly before deciding to restore. If you don't see what you like, consider a different tool (most will do a free preview of files before you buy). File names, meta data, and file and folder structure could vary by recovery product.

    Most are very similar, but there are differences, so be open to trying others before putting your money down.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  12. #12
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    Between you and Ricks, I have several programs to research and will spend some time this weekend doing just that.

    Tracking indicates my USB 3/Firewire 800 enclosure should be here on the 9th, figured it may operate a little faster on FW 800 but more importantly, more stable.

    Just realized that I had a total of 3 drives go bad over the holidays, the two 3.5" we have been discussing and a little Samsung 750 gb USB 2 M2 Portable drive....it just stopped working. It is bus powered and I have tried it on two MACs and PCs and it's just dead. Seagate, guess they bought Samsungs' disc division, is going to replace it. The data was just time machine so no real loss but with three drives going out in what might have been the same day, I'm get suspicious. The problems seem to be unrelated but maybe there is a systemic issue with the Mini. This is the Mini I installed the SSD drive and broke off the temp sensor receptacle for the optical drive.....Maybe my Ham Fisted approach to computer maintenance and repair could use some polish ?

    Thanks again

  13. #13
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    Perhaps, but I would doubt it is related to the surgery. I suppose there could be a USB issue....

    If you can live with not being cross platform, HFS+ formatting would rule out any exFAT questions. You might consider running one backup HFS+ for while, just to prove that there are no issues. If you really need cross platform, you might consider this. Cost, but lets you use the format your Mac really likes, and should help with data integrity, and general use issues (permissions, etc.). Have not used it in a few years, but was always rock solid.

    Update: I see some complaints with MacDrive....sad, as it used to work perfectly. Here is an alternative:

    http://www.paragon-software.com/home/hfs-windows/

    I see lots of failed 2.5" external HDs, so that is likely unrelated.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricks View Post
    R-Studio is a quality application.
    I agree. Saved me and that 1.5 GB drive I accidentally formatted.

    It's my first choice app. I think it's far superior to Data Rescue.

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