How to Repair External Hard Drive on Mac with No Data Loss

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Today, when I went to plug my 2TB external hard drive into my 2020 Macbook Pro 16”, I was met with a pop-up message that stated that it was not readable. This means that I cannot export any of the documents over to my Mac or interact with them in any way, which makes working on these files impossible. I am not sure whether my hard drive is just not being recognized, if it is a formatting issue, or if there is an issue with the hard drive itself. If I need to repair my Mac external hard drive, how would I go about doing this?

4 Easy Ways to Repair an External Hard Drive on Mac

Using an external hard drive is pretty intuitive but when it comes to repairing one that ends up with corrupted files, that’s another matter. Here are 4 ways to repair an external hard drive on Mac and how to retrieve data that has been lost from your hard drive.

1Repair Mac External Hard Drive with Disk Utility

The disk utility program on Macs can fix disk problems like corrupted files, apps quitting unexpectedly, and issues with external devices. Here is how you would run disk utility to repair a hard drive on Mac.

Step 1: Open up the Disk Utility app and choose the Show All Devices option.

Step 2: In the sidebar that appears, select the external hard drive disk that appears. Then click on the First Aid button.

Note
If it shows an alert message that says your external hard drive is about to fail, back it up first and then repair it. If you cannot back it up completely, use a data recovery program to get important files off of it.

Step 3: Choose the Run option and hit the Continue button to commence first aid.

Step 4: Wait for the first aid to run. If you get a message back that says that the disk is okay or has been repaired successfully, you are good to go.

  • If you get an overlap extent allocation error, this means that 2+ files are occupying the same space. One of them is likely to be corrupted, so check the files for damage and replace, re-create, or delete the damaged file.

  • If your external hard drive disk cannot be repaired by first aid, you will need to either run it again or back up your data and reformat the disk.

2Repair External Hard Drive on Mac with FSCK Command

If the disk utility option above does not repair your Mac hard drive, the FSCK command may work.

Step 1: Head to your Utilities and choose the Terminal option.

Step 2: Type in diskutil; this will bring up all connected drives on your Macbook.

Step 3: Locate your external hard drive in the connected drives list. Find its drive identifier tag. Note this tag down.

Step 4: Restart your Macbook. Before the Apple logo appears, hold down the Command + S keys at the same time. This boots your Mac into single user mode.

Step 5: When the white text stops scrolling, type in /sbin/fsck -fy and hit Enter.

Step 6: You will be asked to type in another command. Type in /sbin/fsck_hfs -fy /dev/[drive-identifier-tag]. Replace the “hfs” with the file system of your hard drive and the “drive identifier tag” with the identifier of your external hard drive. Allow it to run.

Step 7: When the FSCK command is done running, type reboot into the command prompt and hit Enter.

Step 8: Check to see if the issue is fixed.

3Repair Mac External Hard Drive with Safe Mode

If the above 2 options do not work, it could be due to file system corruption on the startup section of the disk. You can use safe mode to repair this issue.

Step 1: Turn on your Macbook and hold down the Shift key when the startup chime begins. Release the key when the login screen appears.

Step 2: As you hold down the Shift key, the Mac will perform troubleshooting checks on the startup disk and boots you into safe mode.

Step 3: Now restart your Mac without pressing any keys. Follow the on-screen instructions.

4Repair Mac External Hard Drive by Reformatting It

If you need to repair an external hard drive on a Mac that is corrupted and you want to reformat the drive, you must first use a data recovery tool. If you do not recover the data first, it will all be lost when you reformat the drive. Here is how to reformat external hard drive on Mac.

Step 1: Head to your Utilities and choose the Disk Utility option.

Step 2: From the sidebar, choose your external hard drive and click the Erase button.

repair mac external hard drive

Step 3: Give it a new name and a format. Click Format to reformat the drive.

5How to Recover Lost Data from External Hard Drive on Mac with Software?

If you find yourself in the scenario where you cannot access the files on your external hard drive and do not have a backup copy, you may need to resort to recovering the lost data with a third-party program first. If you cannot repair your external hard drive on Mac with the above options, recover the data with AnyRecover firstly, before reformatting the drive or purchasing a new one.

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AnyRecover key features to help you recover lost data from external hard drive on Mac:
  • AnyRecover is a top-class data recovery software tool that helps you retrieve lost, damaged, or deleted data from numerous medium storages.

  • It works extremely well for problems with external hard drives, as it does not overwrite any files during recovery and can retrieve over a 1,000 different file types.

  • With a simple 3-step process to recovering files, a free trial, regular updates, and a money-back guarantee, it’s the tool to use for external hard drive issues.

  • It doesn't matter whether you emptied the trash bin or not, the deleted file will show up after you use the program to scan your selected drive.

  • AnyRecover does not overwrite your currently available data. This helps you avoid further data loss.

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Steps about how to recover lost data from external hard drive on Mac with AnyRecover:

Step 1: Download and launch the AnyRecover program. Make sure to get the Mac version. Choose the location of where your deleted, missing, or damaged files are. In this case it is your external hard drive. Click the Start button. This starts the scan.

select a location

Step 2: AnyRecover will begin an all-around deep scan for missing, damaged, or deleted files. Doing this on an external hard drive may mean it takes a while to finish the scan.

scan external drive on mac

Step 3: After the scan is complete, preview and check the found files. Select which ones you want to recover (you can multi-select) and hit the Recover button to save them to your Macbook.

preview and recover

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By  Simon Marcus , to External Device Recovery

Posted on Jul 01, 2020  ( Updated: Jul 01, 2020 )

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