Problem with External HD mounting and Disk Utility

Hi. I'm using OS-X Yosemite (10.10.3) on a 15" MacBook Pro Retina

I've been using my 2TB WD My Passport Ultra hard drive since around February of this year.

Earlier today when I plugged it in, the Hard Drive didn't show up in my devices in finder. So, I unplugged and tried again. Still nothing. Then, I went to Disk Utility and found that the drive was there, but the partition wasn't mounted and is greyed out. So i tried to verify / repair the disk but have gotten a couple different messages. One being: The partition map needs to be repaired because there's a problem with the EFI system partition's file system The other being Some information was unavailable during an internal lookup This message has shown up more than any other.

I've been able to get in and look at my files once to try to copy the files from the drive after a message popped up and said: Couldn't repair the disk, but I could still open or copy files on the disk but can't save changes to files on the disk

But, I encountered an error that was something along the lines of Operation couldn't be completed because the item "..." is in use. But the file I was trying to copy wasn't open or in use by any program.

SO, I'm in pretty desperate need of some help with this. I have some very important files on this drive that I can't afford to lose. A lot of it irreplaceable. Any help at all would be very much appreciated! Thanks a lot!

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Did you bang your disk or did you pull the cable in the middle of a read/write operation?

When a drive gets this way it is fragile! What you do next could make recovery harder. So you don't want to alter it too much until you have copied off as much as you can (just in case).

If you banged the drive while it was running you most likely crashed the heads and a part of the disk platters are damaged.

Now you're between a rock and a hard place:

  • The best answer here is to send your drive out to a data recovery service. Even then they can only go so far and it will be expensive!
  • If you can copy off the important files you need then you could take the chance in repairing the drive via software but that will only work if the drive media and heads are in good shape.
  • Lastly, you could try to get it replaced directly from Western Digital. But they won't recover the data under warranty.


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How do you copy the important files if they aren't showing up on the hard drive? I can see the drive in disk utility, but it is greyed out and does not appear in finder... Help please!


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If this is an external drive or your internal drive? If its the internal drive you'll need to boot up under an external drive before you can fix the drive. Did you run Disk Utility to fix your drive?

If it doesn't come back working at that this point you'll need to either to try a file recovery program like Drive Rescue 5 or you may need to ship your drive out to a recovery service like DriveSavers keep in mind this will be expensive!

Hi! Thanks for responding! I forgot to say that it is an external drive- it’s a My Passport WD drive. I can see it in disk utility, and the description of the drive is in black letters, below it is the name of my drive, but it is in gray. I can’t mount it or eject it. The light is in the drive and I can feel it spinning. I’m hoping there is a way to get the files off!

I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you mean by what does the terminal say. I tried running the disk repair in the disk utility and got a variety of error messages- not enough information, can’t be repaired, and sibling error.

Some of the instructions are about Linux- should I try on that? I have a friend who uses Linux.

Thanks so much! I appreciate your time and the help!!

No @ct411 - Don't do anything more all you'll do is make is worse! Drew's info won't help you here. WD did have a warranty program for their drives. Is is still covered? They may give you a new drive but won't save your data.

If Disk Utility can't fix the errors your drive will need special handling at a data recovery service. Hopefully you have a backup of your data.

The mechanics of the drive are in trouble which you can't fix without damaging your drive more as you don't have a clean room and besides you don't have the needed tools and parts to fix the drive here's a good vid on what happens within Drive Savers $2,000,000 Clean Room! - DriveSavers Data Recovery Tour

Thank you Dan! I will leave it alone and take it to a data recovery shop in my neighborhood and hope for the best! Thank you again for taking time to answer my question! Have a great evening!

Best of luck!


You say it shows up in Disk Utility, but doesn't mount? What does Terminal say is the Device Identifier in Terminal? The command to check is "diskutil list" (without the quotes). It'll then list all drives connected to the computer and their partitions. It'll have your primary drive as well, so keep an eye on the drive's name. It should be something like

/dev/disk0 and the partitions will be sequencially identified as disk0s1, disks2, etc. You're wanting the /dev/disk# info for the Passport Ultra. Once you get that info I can tell you how to copy a drive/volume/partition without it being mounted by the system. But it'll take some Terminal work if you're comfortable with it


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@drewbdoo37 - The terminal command won't offer anything useful. You also got the OP's question intermixed with Cary T's. We don't know what Cary T drive is. Very rarely do you need to drop into terminal to fix a drive.

Correct the terminal command won't fix the drive, but you can dd the unmounted partition on the failing drive to a second hard drive, or even to a new unmounted internal partition. It would at least save the important files

@drewbdoo37 - Keep in time the Disk Utility GUI is in background running the UNIX terminal commands. Basically, it's hiding the complexities of UNIX.

While there are some actions that you do need to use terminal you shouldn't need it here. The root issue is which drive is it: the Internal or the external as the direction of repair is different!

Think of it this way if your shoes heel falls off on your way to work and you walk into a shoe cobbler to fix your shoe you need to take it off for him to fix it.

This also holds true here you need to have the drive unmounted so the drive can be fixed properly. Force mounting a corrupted drive without first trying to fix it can make things worse!

If you wanted to duplicate an existing drive (the Passport Ultra) to another, you should get another drive of the same (or larger) size. Assuming the drive to copy is /dev/disk1 and the destination drive is /dev/disk2, first use fdisk to recreate the appropriately-sized partitions, then use dd to do the actual cloning:

# sfdisk -d /dev/disk1 | sfdisk /dev/disk2

# fdisk -l /dev/disk1; fdisk -l /dev/disk2

Compare the output of the two fdisk commands and make sure the partitions on /dev/disk2 match those on /dev/disk1. Once this is done, you can copy each partition using:

# dd if=/dev/disk1 of=/dev/disk2 bs=446 count=1

# dd if=/dev/disk1s1 of=/dev/disk2s1

# dd if=/dev/disk1s2 of=/dev/disk2s2

.. For however many partitions you need to get the data from the failing drive off onto a new storage device

@drewbdoo37 - You've now got DOS/Windows intermixed with Mac OS commands under UNIX. Why are you going into that?

You could also just use Disk Utility Clone function to do the same thing but the root issue is still getting the drive fixed.




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