5 Best Ways to Recover a Failed Internal Mac Hard Drive

Glad, if you have found us in nick of the time. Seems like your Mac’s internal or external hard drive is showing signs of failure! Soon, It may fail entirely hence every second is important for you to save the data stored on the hard drive. In this blog, you will find 5 methods including 1 recommended method that is implemented and tested with positive results. Whether your Mac storage media is a hard drive or an SSD; you can apply the recommended method to recover your data.

Once your data is successfully recovered from the failing Mac hard drive, you can then upgrade your Mac with a new piece of the storage device.

Method 1(Recommended): Stellar Data Recovery for Mac

  1. Deep Scan Recovery for Corrupt Volumes
  2. Creating a Disk Image of Failing Media
  3. Recovering Files from an Unmounted Hard Drive
  4. Many Benefits of the Software

Method 2: . Disk Utility Repair

Method 3: . FSCK Repair

Method 4: . Target Disk Mode

Method 5: . Convert your Drive

Method 1 (Recommended): Stellar Data Recovery for Mac

This is the recommended method among all mentioned solutions since this isn’t a hit-n-trial procedure on your hard drive. It doesn’t involve any further wear and tear. The software possesses multiple features that can be implemented to recover hard drives failing due to different circumstances.

Mac Data Recovery from Stellar is an advanced hard drive recovery software that can help you recover a failing or corrupt Mac hard drive. The software works on multiple file systems such as – APFS (support added recently), HFS, HFS+, NTFS, FAT and ex-FAT. You can run this hard drive recovery program on Mac to recover a damaged internal partition, USBs, SSDs, PCI-e SSDs, unrecognized hard drives, Time Machine, encrypted volumes and more. Let’s examine 3 cases of Mac hard drive corruption and recovering files with Stellar Data Recovery for Mac.

1. Scanning and Recovering Corrupt Volumes or Partitions

Stellar Data Recovery for Mac automatically switches to Deep Scan if your chosen hard drive, SSD or volume is severely damaged. Deep Scan is a robust feature of the software purposely designed to perform advanced file recovery. The software performs recovery of files on a corrupt Mac storage drive using file-signature search. Below is the process of running Deep Scan on your corrupt volume:

  1. Run the software.
  2. Select your failing drive and toggle-on Deep Scan. The Deep Scan will recover all the data including – Emails, Docs, Pictures, Videos, Audio and other file formats. (Deep Scan automatically switches when a corrupt volume is selected)
  3. Start the scan and preview all files
  4. Lastly, preview and recover your files to another drive

2. Creating a Disk Image of Failing Solid State Drive

WithStellar Data Recovery for Mac, you can create a disk image file of a storage drive (HDD & SSD). If Deep Scan doesn’t give you the best results, then you can leverage the ‘Create Image’ feature of the software. Once an image file or .dmg of the failed hard drive is created; you can use the disk image file to recover the data at any point in time.

Free download Mac

  1. Connect your storage drive to Mac and launch the software
  2. From the top menu bar; select Create Image option
  3. Chose the failing hard drive which you want to image (select sector range and click Next)
  4. Save the disk image file to a new destination (the destination size must be larger than the source)
  5. Allow the software to create the disk image files of your failing storage drive
  6. Perform data recovery on the disk image files once the image is created successfully. (Note: your storage media should be plugged-in to Mac in case the image files belong to an external storage drive)
  7. Scan the image files and preview the recoverable data
  8. Finally, press the Recover button to save the data to another destination

3. Recovering Files from an Unmounted Hard Drive on Mac

If your Mac hard drive or partition isn’t mounting in the Finder & the Desktop, then recover inaccessible files by implementing below steps using Stellar Data Recovery for Mac application:

  1. Run the software. Select your files for recovery.
  2. Select the unmounted drive or partition from the ‘Select Location’ window.
  3. Start the scan and let it complete
  4. Preview your recoverable data
  5. Lastly, recover your files to another drive

4. Many Benefits of the Software:

WithStellar Data Recovery for Mac software at your side, you can perform disk recovery, corrupt SSD recovery, external hard drive recovery, SD/CF card recovery, Time Machine & Time Capsule recovery and further you can recover permanently deleted files from a password-protected hard drive. The free trial version allows you to evaluate all the data recovery features on your Mac before you go further to Register Stellar Data Recovery for Mac.

Important: Above, we shared how Stellar Data Recovery for Mac can be useful for recovering files from various instances of Mac hard disk corruption. Next, you will be knowing about other methods of recovering a failed Mac hard drive. Please be noted that most of the time the problem becomes more complex when we try to implement several random techniques. We caution you to proceed ahead with great care.

Method 2: Repair with Disk Utility (macOS Utilities) First Aid

Disk Utility is available in the recovery partition. If your Mac’s start-up volume goes corrupt then launch Disk Utility through Recovery Mode and perform disk repair activity.

Steps to repair a failing Mac hard drive is discussed below:

Step I) Reboot your macOS and immediately press-hold Command + R.

Step II) Shortly, you will be booted in the Recovery Mode (Recovery Mode is a hidden macOS partition). Here, you are presented with four options to troubleshoot your Mac. Disk Utility is one of those four options; click Disk Utility to launch.

Step III) Choose your start-up disk and run First Aid to repair cryptic disk errors. Here, two possible conditions may arrive:

a) Your disk is repaired successfully with the Disk Utility: When the Disk Utility shows you the output that it has repaired the corrupt disk successfully then you can log-out from the recovery partition and boot into the desktop.

b) Disk Utility Can’t Repair the Corrupt Hard Drive: There are several limitations of the Disk Utility such as it can’t repair a corrupt partition map. Also, it can’t repair advance disk errors such as Invalid-B Tree Node. To Repair Invalid B Tree Node on a start-up disk it is required to create a bootable USB. Refer to Method #1 to recover data from a corrupt or failing drive, or to repair the disk additionally.

Method 3: Repair the Mac start-up drive with FSCK command

If Disk Utility method didn’t yield any results, then you can repair a failing Mac hard drive using a non – GUI mode on OS X and macOS. It’s called F.S.C.K. To repair the disk errors on Mac with FSCK, follow the below procedure:

  1. Make sure your Mac is turned off.
  2. Press the power button to start up the Mac and press hold the Command and S button (i.e. Command + S).
  3. This will bring you the Single User Mode from where you can repair the failing Mac hard drive and access all files from it.
  4. Now, you must enter the command line – /sbin/fsck – fy.
  5. Press Return (Enter).
  6. The command line will begin analyzing your Macintosh HD volume and will return message as per the action performed.
  7. When the Macintosh HD is healthy, it will display the message: “The Volume (name) appears to be OK”.
  8. When FSCK repairs the damaged volume, it shows the message: “File System Was Modified”. Repeat the FSCK run again until the file system is corrected and the message in step (7) is displayed.

Like Disk Utility, sometimes, FSCK works well in repairing cryptic disk errors of minor nature. However, it may or may not fix the corrupt hard drive completely. If FSCK efforts result negatively then leverage Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac to recover files from the storage media. The software has a version that repairs corrupted or damaged photo and videos files from the hard drive. The version is called Stellar Data Recovery Premium for Mac.

Method 4: Target Disk Mode. Recover Files from a Failed Mac Start-up Disk Drive

Target Disk Mode is an advanced method that helps you mount and access a failed start-up hard disk using additional accessories, which includes a Firewire or a Thunderbolt cable. These cables connect the 2 Macs (Working Mac and Failed Mac hard drive) for the purpose of transferring files and recovering the data.

Let’s learn to implement Target Disk Mode using a working Mac and a Firewire cable.

  1. Make sure uninterrupted power supply is provided to both the Macs.
  2. Use a Firewire 800 or Firewire 400 cable to connect both the Macs through USB ports. You may also use a Thunderbolt for the same.
  3. Start the Mac with failing/failed hard drive and immediately press the keyboard button “T”.
  4. The Mac should boot into the Firewire mode. Once it does, you will see a large Firewire icon the Mac screen.
  5. On a healthy Mac, you will see the troubled hard drive icon showing on the Desktop. The ‘Macintosh HD’ will have a Firewire symbol mounted on its icon. In case of Thunderbolt cable, the Macintosh HD will have the Thunderbolt icon mounted on it.
  6. Once Macintosh HD is mounted, you can perform disk repair and copy files from the hard drive to a working external hard drive.

Mounting, accessing and copying files from a failed hard drive to a working disk is possible with Target Disk Mode facility. However, if the disk is unmounted or unrecognized then you might have to consider running ‘Stellar Data Recovery for Mac’ tool to recover files from the unmounted hard drive. Please go through the method #1 – Recovering data from an unmounted Mac hard drive to know more.

Method 5: Convert Failing Macintosh HD into an External Hard Drive

Converting the failing Macintosh start-up drive to an external hard drive for recovering files could possibly be an alternative solution of Target Disk Mode. But how should you make an external drive out of an internal Mac HDD? The process is explained further with easy steps:

  1. Safely take out the internal Macintosh HD out of your Mac system. There are plenty of D-I-Y videos which can help you remove the Mac HD safely.
  2. Prior to the removal of the internal HD, you must also order an external hard drive enclosure from an online seller. Hard drive enclosures these days are cheap and can be acquired by spending $10 or $15.
  3. Open the plastic cover of the enclosure and place / slide your internal hard drive in the matching context. Once done, turn over the hard drive and put in the screws that came up with the enclosure. Tighten all the screws with the help of a screwdriver.
  4. Put back the front-back plastic cover to cover-up the hard drive.
  5. Now connect one and another tip of the USB cable to the ports the hard drive and Mac OS X for mounting and accessing files.

A badly damaged Mac hard drive might not get recognized in Finder or Desktop even after being converted to an external hard drive? As stated above; if such a problem arrives with your external hard drive not getting recognized then go back to Method #1.


You can’t directly repair a failing Mac hard drive with a screwdriver. You need to follow some guidelines. Your first action against a failing media should be recovering files from the device. Leverage Disk Utility, FSCK and likewise methods. However, consider running a Mac hard drive recovery tool if you can’t put the FSCK or Disk utility to work. You need to hurry in recovering data from a troubled hard drive since failing drives are unpredictable. They may show up sometimes and the very next moment they are gone. Don’t delay in trying Mac Data Recovery software from Stellar since the software comprises several advanced features exclusively developed to recover data from failing hard drives.

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