Data Recovery After Mac Hard Drive Failure

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You’re using your Mac when all of a sudden, it becomes slow or even freezes. You reboot the system only to find it’s still slow. You Google the symptoms and come across Mac hard drive failure as one of the possible causes. How do you know if your Mac’s hard drive is failing?

In this article, we will be looking at what the signs of Mac hard drive failure are, how to recover lost data from a Mac with hard drive failure, and providing you with some helpful tips on how to avoid hard drive failure on your iMac, iMac Pro, Mac mini, Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, etc.

Part 1: Common Signs of Hard Drive Failure on Mac

If you own a Mac, then it’s essential to know the common signs of hard drive failure! If you already know the signs and symptoms, then you may be able to do something about it before the drive gives up for good. Taking early action could potentially save your data from being permanently deleted and inaccessible. Below are the most common signs of Mac hard drive failure.

  • General slowing down of your Mac.

  • Regularly freezes or hangs up when doing things.

  • Slow to access or open files and folders.

  • Missing or corrupted files and folders.

  • The dreaded blue screen of death appears.

  • The system longer recognizes the hard drive.

  • Appearance of annoying error messages.

  • Odd noises coming from the hard drive.

Part 2: How to Repair Failed Mac Hard Drive

If your Mac’s hard drive has failed then unfortunately your files and data will be not retrievable unless it’s repaired. Don’t despair, as there are a couple of fixes you can try to repair your Mac’s hard drive. Once your hard drive is working again, you can use data recovery software to recover your lost files. Below are the two main fixes that may repair your failed Mac hard drive.

1Repair Mac Hard Drive with Disk Utility

Apple include an application with macOS that can help repair issues with your Mac’s hard drive. The Disk Utility can help repair a corrupted startup disk. To recover the hard drive using the Disk Utility, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Command + R key until the Apple logo appears on the screen. Your Mac will boot into recovery mode.

Step 2: You’ll see the macOS Utilities window appear. Click on Disk Utility, then click on Continue. You should now see the Disk Utility window in front of you.

mac mini hard drive failure - Repair Mac Hard Drive with Disk Utility

Step 3: On the left-hand side, select the startup disk for Macintosh HD. Click the First Aid button at the top and hit Run.

Step 4: Give the software some time to attempt to repair the startup disk. Once it has finished, there will be one of two potential outcomes:

  • Outcome 1: The disk repaired successfully. You can simply reboot your Mac and carry on as usual.

  • macbook air hard drive failure - Repair Mac Hard Drive with Disk Utility

  • Outcome 2: The disk repair was unsuccessful. If this happens, you will need to try one of the other methods listed below.

2Repair the Macintosh HD with FSCK Command

This method may work to repair your failed hard drive if the above process does not work. The FSCK (File System Consistency Check) command will take a look at and repair the structure of the hard drive. To use the FSCK command, perform the following steps:

Step 1: Reboot your Mac and press Command + S to enter into the Single User Mode.

Step 2: Type /sbin/fsck_hfs -fy (without quotes) and then press Return.

Step 3: The system will now analyze your Mac’s hard drive and return a result detailing whether the operation was successful or not.

How do I know if my Mac hard drive is failing - Repair the Macintosh HD with FSCK Command

Part 3: Recover Lost Data from Failed Mac Hard Drive with Data Recovery Software

If the above fixes to repaired your hard drive have worked, you may discover that some of your files or data have become corrupted. Some of your files may also be missing from the hard drive. In this situation, you will need to use data recovery software to recover your files.

The most efficient piece of software to use is Mac data recovery - AnyRecover. AnyRecover makes recovering data from your Mac’s failed hard drive quick and easy.

AnyRecover Mac Data Recovery

1,000,000 + Downloads

Key Features of AnyRecover:

AnyRecover is very easy to use, especially for people who are not familiar with data recovery.

Work flawlessly to recover any files and data from your Mac. Works on Mac Mini’s, Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, and all other Macintosh systems.

AnyRecover can recover over 1,000 different file types at the click of a button. Free preview the files before restoring them.

The process is safe and secure; your data is kept secure at all times, and AnyRecover has one of the highest data recovery success rates for Mac systems.

AnyRecover has been developed by people with immense technical experience in data recovery for Macs, and free professional technical support is included.

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Before recovering data from the failed hard drive on Mac, you need to create a bootable drive to restart your Mac. Follow the steps below to create a bootable USB drive:

Steps to Create a Bootable USB Drive:

Step 1: You’ll need another computer that works and a blank CD/DVD or USB drive.

Step 2: On the working computer, open AnyRecover and select “Recover from Crashed Computer,” then click on “Start.” Ensure the blank USB drive or CD/DVD has been inserted into the working computer. You can then press “Start” to proceed with the process.

recover from crashed computer

Step 3: You have two options to choose from when it comes to creating the bootable drive; a bootable USB device or a bootable CD/DVD. Select the type of media you wish to create the bootable drive with, then click on “Create” to start the process.

select bootable media

Step 4: Once you’ve selected the option to create a bootable drive, you will see a message warning you that the media (USB/CD/DVD) will be formatted. If you have any important data on the device, please back it up before proceeding. To proceed, click “Format”.

format usb drive

Step 5: Once formatting has finished, the bootable drive will be created. Once it has been successfully created, you will be ready to begin the repair process, as detailed below.

  • 1. Change your BIOS settings to boot from the USB flash drive or CD/DVD that you created.

  • 2. Connect your USB drive or insert the CD/DVD into the crashed computer.

  • 3. Restart the crashed computer.

bootable drive created successfully

Follow the steps listed below to recover data from a failed hard drive on Mac:

Step 1: Launch AnyRecover on the Mac you just restarted, then select the location where your lost data is located. Once selected, proceed by clicking on "Start".

select a location

Step 2: AnyRecover will start a quick scan of the disk you selected. Once the scanning process has finished, you will be able to see all of your lost files and their respective folders.

scan selected drive

Step 3: Click on the individual folders, then double click on a file to preview the data. You’ll be able to see the file before recovering the data. If you want to recover individual files or entire folders, simply click on “Recover” to start the process of recovery.

scanned files preview and recover

Please remember to save the recovered data to a different location!

Bonus: Tips for Preventing Hard Drive Failure on Mac

To avoid hard drive failure and the subsequent loss of data, we recommend several tips you should follow.

Tip 1. If your Mac is showing signs or symptoms of hard drive failure, backup your data immediately to a different location/storage device!

Tip 2. Perform regular data backups, even if your Mac hard drive is not showing symptoms of failure. You can use Time Machine to perform backups of your data.

Tip 3. Use the built-in Disk Utility tool to find and repair issues with your Mac’s hard drive before they become significant issues.


Mac hard drive failure can seem like a disaster, especially as many of your files will be important to you. If your Mac is showing symptoms of hard drive failure, such as making noises or loading extremely slowing, then you need to take action before your files are no longer accessible.

You can follow the tips provided above to avoid hard drive failure; however, all hard drives fail given enough time. If that happens, you will need to use data recovery software, like AnyRecover, to recover the data from your Mac’s failed hard drive.

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By  Simon Marcus , to Hard Drive Recovery

Updated on Jun 19, 2020

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