Hard drive faulty - can see files - but can't recover

Joined
Mar 28, 2015
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Hi all, my first post here.

I have been a Mac user since 2005 and have come across my first hardware error that seems to have me snookered.

My Macintosh HD internal startup drive on my 2013 iMac started playing up with the -36 error appearing when trying to shift files around. Of course this didn't help when trying to backup my iPhoto files that I wanted to save because of the problems appearing.

To cut a very long story short. Mac disk utilities won't repair the drive from within OS X nor through the startup process (cmd r), although it did seem to through the startup process once - but now it won't do it again.

At the moment I am booting from an external Thunderbolt drive and I can now see the Macintosh HD in the finder. I can also navigate through to the iPhoto Libraries and I can copy the photos one-by-one from those library package contents but - with three libraries at approx 500gb each - that is going to take my lifetime.

The thing is, I can't grab a whole lot of files (or the whole library for example) and drag them to a new drive. Somewhere in those files there is always a read error and this stops the copy process once again with the -36 error. This is why the only way of success is by copying them one-by-one and ignoring the files that can't be properly accesses.

So I have tried TechTool Pro (no success) Disk Warrior (no success) and Disk Drill 2 Enterprise (some success). At least Disk Drill allows me to create a virtual disk of the bad hard drive on my news startup drive, but of course ANY file activity/navigation takes forever. Even clicking on files and directories -so imagine trying to access two 500-odd gig libraries!!

If I try to REBUILD the directory after a Disk Drill scan, it comes up with a "Hard Drive unstable - the directory cannot be written to this drive - try creating virtual drive and copying from there" or something similar. Hence the virtual disk as being the only way DD can do anything.

So as you can see I am at a bit of a loss.

It appears at this point in time the only way to save my photos is to copy them - very slowly and one by one - to the new hard drive. There appears to be no other way to repair the faulty drive so I can access the files at an acceptable speed.

Would any of you be able to point me in the right direction for a possible solution, please?

Many thanks

DC
 
Last edited:

chscag

Well-known member
Staff member
Admin
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
65,247
Reaction score
1,834
Points
113
Location
Keller, Texas
Your Mac's Specs
2017 27" iMac, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 8, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 Mini, Numerous iPods, Monterey
Welcome to the Mac Forums.

Several questions for you:

1. Do you have a backup?

2. Did you buy the extended Apple Care?

It appears you have a long tedious process before you copying those photos one by one. Sorry if I'm not much help but it appears you tried everything I would ordinarily suggest.
 
OP
D
Joined
Mar 28, 2015
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Thank you chscag

No to both of your questions, I am afraid.

When the disc started giving me some very minor problems a couple of weeks ago, I started backing up the files just in case it turned nasty. Unfortunately the error beat me and got to a point where I am now without a completed backup.

The iPhoto libraries are the only things that are of concern as they are so big it's going to take a very long time.

All other files I needed to keep were smallish in comparison (email data etc) and so I could back that up manually without issue.

DC
 
Last edited:

Rod


Joined
Jun 12, 2011
Messages
9,818
Reaction score
1,988
Points
113
Location
Melbourne, Australia and Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Your Mac's Specs
2021 M1 MacBook Pro 14" macOS 14.5 Mid 2010MacBook 13" iPhone 13 Pro max, iPad 6, Apple Watch SE.
Digicrew, it sounds as though your hard drive has died, especially if you cannot access the recovery partition. The Mac error -36 is most often encountered when moving files that cannot for some reason be read. Repairing permissions can sometimes fix this but you may have gone past that point.
If you are forced to move the photos one by one just ensure you are moving the full size images not the thumbnails.
Might I suggest a Time Machine backup in future.:(
 
OP
D
Joined
Mar 28, 2015
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Thanks Rod,

I agree with your comments re time machine. No excuses here from me except for the fact that I keep my other photo libraries on external drives and I simply never got around to backing these ones up or sending those iPhoto libraries to an external drive.

Bad practice considering how much I risk to lose.

So...do I keep attempting to transfer (save) the photos one by one when I get the chance, or do I simply give it all away as a bad experience and lose two years of personal photos and videos?

At the moment, I am planning to have the HD replaced, keeping the failing hard drive, putting it in an external enclosure and just backing up the photos from it when I have some spare time. Let's hope the drive holds out for long enough to do that.

That's probably my best option to keep my sanity intact.

All I can say is thank goodness there were no clients files on there.

Big lesson for me.
 
OP
D
Joined
Mar 28, 2015
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Oh...one thing I forgot to mention:

This drive is a 3TB fusion drive...not sure if this changes anything...
 

chscag

Well-known member
Staff member
Admin
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
65,247
Reaction score
1,834
Points
113
Location
Keller, Texas
Your Mac's Specs
2017 27" iMac, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 8, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 Mini, Numerous iPods, Monterey
Oh...one thing I forgot to mention:

This drive is a 3TB fusion drive...not sure if this changes anything...

Yes, that does make a difference. Your fusion drive is actually 2 drives and I'm not certain how you will be able to place them separately in an enclosure to copy your files. If all your photos are on the spinning drive, then it may be possible to just place that drive in an enclosure and copy the photos via USB.
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2004
Messages
4,781
Reaction score
166
Points
63
Location
Groves, Texas
Are you familiar with Terminal? There is a way to copy files and ignore error messages.
You may not get all your files but it's better than one at a time copying.
Assuming all your files are in one directory (folder) you can do this:
cd pathtofolder
cp -R *.* pathtodestination/foldername/
cp is copy and the -R switch means copy everything in the folder including subfolders and ignore errors.
It should copy everything that is copyable to the destination.
 

Rod


Joined
Jun 12, 2011
Messages
9,818
Reaction score
1,988
Points
113
Location
Melbourne, Australia and Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Your Mac's Specs
2021 M1 MacBook Pro 14" macOS 14.5 Mid 2010MacBook 13" iPhone 13 Pro max, iPad 6, Apple Watch SE.
And re the fusion drive, that may be good news in a way because the SSD part usually only contains current and short term stuff, all of the "permanent" storage is on the HHD. So if you could mount the HHD in. USB enclosure there is a chance you could retrieve everything especially if the fault is in the SSD.
 

Slydude

Well-known member
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Nov 15, 2009
Messages
17,664
Reaction score
1,121
Points
113
Location
North Louisiana, USA
Your Mac's Specs
M1 MacMini 16 GB - Ventura, iPhone 14 Pro Max, 2015 iMac 16 GB Monterey
Rod I thought I read somewhere that even though the drives are separate they are treated as one large volume. With the OP be able to recover things off of the traditional part of the hard drive if it is in fact treated as one large drive?
 
OP
D
Joined
Mar 28, 2015
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Thanks everyone - I will try the terminal idea although I am currently starting the computer from an external thunderbolt drive and, although the Macintosh HD could be seen in the finder and accessed with troublesome file copying one-by-one, it is now "ejecting" itself. The last two computer boot-ups have not shown the Macintosh HD in the finder.

If I now go into disk utilities it now shows both the SSD drive and the HDD portion of the fusion drive and says the Fusion portion needs to be repaired. But I have been told this will wipe all data.

Can I access and use the Terminal idea if I can no longer see the Macintosh HD in the finder?

Many thanks again.
 
OP
D
Joined
Mar 28, 2015
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Are you familiar with Terminal? There is a way to copy files and ignore error messages.
You may not get all your files but it's better than one at a time copying.
Assuming all your files are in one directory (folder) you can do this:
cd pathtofolder
cp -R *.* pathtodestination/foldername/
cp is copy and the -R switch means copy everything in the folder including subfolders and ignore errors.
It should copy everything that is copyable to the destination.

Thanks for this info - but does that mean I would have to boot up from the faulty drive (which I can't do) otherwise - using terminal - how do I tell the commands that the files are on Macintosh HD and not my external startup drive?
 
OP
D
Joined
Mar 28, 2015
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Thanks everyone for you advice.

Just to confirm, the damaged startup drive (Macintosh HD) was coming up in the finder when I booted through another external drive. This did allow me to slowly copy files one-by-one from within the iPhoto libraries on the drive.

Last night it started ejecting itself (coming up with the improper eject warning) and now it is not showing in the finder at all.

I am being asked via the OS to repair the HD through disk utility (the SSD and HDD portions of the Fusion drive are now showing up separately in Disk Utility) but I know this will erase everything.

Macintosh HD is red in Disk Utility.

When I click on it, a box come up saying The Fusion Drive is Missing a Disk. Would you like to rebuild this Fusion Drive? Rebuilding will erase the following disks:

...and below that is an empty box showing no disks in it.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 14, 2004
Messages
4,781
Reaction score
166
Points
63
Location
Groves, Texas
While you can copy from the drive while not booted from it, the fact that it's unmounting randomly is a problem.
I'm afraid you might have to resign yourself to the fact that the drive is toast. If you do not have a backup, I'm sorry.
 
Joined
Aug 19, 2014
Messages
792
Reaction score
4
Points
18
i would honestly say drive failure i would take it into a apple store and honestly ask them what gives because a drive shouldn't have failed that easy
 
Joined
Feb 12, 2015
Messages
17
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Your Mac's Specs
27 in iMac late 2013. i5 4570/ 8GB/ 1 TB
If you feel like an adventure, you could try a live Linux CD. That is if you have an external CD drive, if not go buy one (I got one for $40).
 

Rod


Joined
Jun 12, 2011
Messages
9,818
Reaction score
1,988
Points
113
Location
Melbourne, Australia and Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Your Mac's Specs
2021 M1 MacBook Pro 14" macOS 14.5 Mid 2010MacBook 13" iPhone 13 Pro max, iPad 6, Apple Watch SE.
Might be cheaper to boot from a bootable Yosemite Instal USB drive. Lots of them about and less than $40.00 on eBay.
 

Rod


Joined
Jun 12, 2011
Messages
9,818
Reaction score
1,988
Points
113
Location
Melbourne, Australia and Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Your Mac's Specs
2021 M1 MacBook Pro 14" macOS 14.5 Mid 2010MacBook 13" iPhone 13 Pro max, iPad 6, Apple Watch SE.
All I can say in the end is thank god the HD isn't encrypted as well.;D
 

chscag

Well-known member
Staff member
Admin
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
65,247
Reaction score
1,834
Points
113
Location
Keller, Texas
Your Mac's Specs
2017 27" iMac, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 8, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 Mini, Numerous iPods, Monterey
Might be cheaper to boot from a bootable Yosemite Instal USB drive. Lots of them about and less than $40.00 on eBay.

I don't think it's going to matter as the drive keeps dismounting which is problematic. And like Craig stated, the drive is likely toast. Another reason I adamantly advise folks against going with a "fusion drive". While they may give some performance boost, they're clearly more difficult to trouble shoot and recover data from.
 
Joined
Feb 12, 2015
Messages
17
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Your Mac's Specs
27 in iMac late 2013. i5 4570/ 8GB/ 1 TB
I don't think it's going to matter as the drive keeps dismounting which is problematic. And like Craig stated, the drive is likely toast. Another reason I adamantly advise folks against going with a "fusion drive". While they may give some performance boost, they're clearly more difficult to trouble shoot and recover data from.

I would say all hope may not be lost.

The Linux Kernel has a different way of handling things and may very well be what the doctor ordered when in comes to recovering data.

I would at least try that. It costs nothing if one has a CD rom.
 

Shop Amazon


Shop for your Apple, Mac, iPhone and other computer products on Amazon.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.
Top