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Mac storage drive, whether it’s a hard drive or a Solid-state Drive (SSD), can fail or not boot due to corruption or ageing. Check out some DIY troubleshooting methods to revive your failed Mac storage drive and its stored data. During the recovery process, you may need the following:
Disk Utility is a native macOS application that can help you resolve Mac hard drive problems. If your Mac’s startup disk turns corrupt, then launch Disk Utility through macOS Recovery mode and repair the disk. Steps are as follows:
Step 1: Power on your Mac and immediately press and hold Command + R keys. Release the keys when the Apple logo appears. Your Mac boots into macOS Recovery mode.
Step 2: From the macOS Utilities window, click Disk Utility and then click Continue. The Disk Utility window is displayed.
Step 3: From the left pane, select the startup disk: MacintoshHD. Click the First Aid button on the top pane, and then click Run
Step 4: Let the software repair the startup disk. Once the disk is repaired, there could be two possible outcomes:
i)Mac startup disk is repaired successfully: If Disk Utility repairs the corrupt disk successfully, restart your Mac and boot into Desktop normally.
ii) Disk Utility can’t repair the corrupt startup disk: One limitation of Disk Utility is that it can’t repair a corrupt partition map. To repair the partition map on a startup disk, you need to erase the Mac storage drive with a new partition scheme. But erasing the drive without taking its backup will cause data loss
In case Disk Utility fails to repair your startup disk, then try the next troubleshooting method.
Single User mode in macOS can be of great help to fix startup disk issues. If your Mac doesn’t boot, then use the file system consistency check (fsck) command in Single User mode to repair the startup drive. Follow the given steps:
Step 1: Power on your Mac, then press and hold Command +S keys. Release the keys when text appears on a black background. Your Mac will load the Single User mode
Step 2: In the command line, type the command /sbin/fsck – fy, then press Return.
i. If MacintoshHD is healthy, it will display the message: “The Volume (name) appears to be OK.”
ii. If fsck repairs the damaged disk drive, it shows the message: “File System Was Modified”. Re-run fsck command till the file system shows “The Volume (name) appears to be OK” message.
The fsck command quickly repairs disk errors in Mac storage drive. But it may or may not fix the corrupt startup drive entirely, if the corruption is beyond the built-in repair capabilities of macOS. In such a case, it’s better to go with the next method.
The Target Disk mode is an advanced boot mode that helps you access the failed startup disk on a Mac by using another working Mac. The method requires you to connect the working Mac and the failed Mac with a Firewire or a Thunderbolt cable. Once the Target Disk mode is implemented, you can easily recover files from a failed startup disk.
Steps to recover Mac data using Target Disk mode:
Step 1: For
iMac or Mac mini, ensure uninterrupted power supply to the Desktop. For MacBook
Air or Pro, connect the device to its charging port.
Step 2: Use a
FireWire or Thunderbolt cable to connect both the Macs through USB ports.
Step 3: Start the Mac system with a failed storage drive and immediately press and hold the T key. Release the key when it displays a FireWire or Thunderbolt icon.
Step 4: On the working Mac, you’ll see the troubled storage drive icon on its Desktop. The ‘Macintosh HD’ will have a Firewire or Thunderbolt symbol on its icon.
Step 5: Once ‘Macintosh HD’ is mounted, you can use First Aid option in Disk Utility to
repair the startup disk and copy files from the disk to a working external hard
As an alternative solution to the Target Disk Mode, you can transform the failed Mac hard drive into an external drive for recovering inaccessible data. But don’t use this method if your Mac is in warranty. The drive can be replaced with a new one if it falls in the warranty. For out of warranty cases, follow the steps given below:
Step 1: Safely
take out the storage drive from your Mac by using a screwdriver. There are
plenty of DIY videos that can help you do so. But if you are unsure of removing
the internal drive on your own, seek help from an expert.
Step 2: Before
removing the internal storage drive, get an external hard drive enclosure from
an online seller. Nowadays, hard drive enclosures are easily available for
Step 3: Open the plastic cover of the enclosure. Place or slide your internal hard drive in the matching slot. 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.
Step 4: Put back the front-back plastic cover to cover up the hard drive. Now connect the external storage drive to your Mac by using a USB cable. Start transferring your files once the external storage drive is visible in Finder or Desktop.
If you’ve taken a backup of your failed Mac hard drive before its failure by using Time Machine, then use it to restore data to a new solid-state drive.
Replace the failed Mac hard drive with the new SSD. There are plenty of DIY
videos that can help you perform the task.
Step 2: Power
on the Mac then immediately press and hold Option
+ Command + R keys. Release the keys when the spinning globe appears. Select
your WiFi network then let the Mac start macOS
Recovery mode from the Internet.
Step 3: From the
macOS Utilities window, select Disk Utility then click Continue. From the left pane of Disk
Utility, select the new SSD then click the Erase
tab from the top pane. Specify the name of the drive, choose APFS format, and
then click Erase. Let the utility to
erase the SSD.
Step 4: Once the SSD is erased, press Command + Q to quit Disk Utility. Now, connect your Time Machine backup drive to the Mac. From the macOS Utilities window, select “Restore From Time Machine Backup”. Complete the restoration steps then restart your Mac when it is over.
In case a working Mac isn’t available for data recovery, but you own a Windows PC, then use the PC to scan and recover data from your Mac drive (You need to transform the drive into an external one as explained before). Steps are as follows:
If your Mac storage drive has a physical failure and you don’t want to lose its stored content, then get a data recovery service to recover your lost data. Data recovery service is expensive due to the involvement of advanced equipment and class 100 cleanroom infrastructure; however, it could be the final resort to recover files from a dead Mac storage drive.
Get your Mac storage drive recovered with data recovery services in case of:
Vishal is a data recovery expert @Stellar. He addresses data loss scenarios on a Mac. He intends to help people solve their macOS problems. Besides, Vishal prefers to read autobiographies, and his personal favorite is of Steve Jobs.