How to Recover Data from Unmounted APFS External Hard Drive

How to Recover Data from Unmounted APFS External Hard Drive

If you have an unmounted APFS external hard drive and you need to recover the information, in this post I will explain how to do it easily and safely.

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Sep 28, 2020 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions


External hard drives are excellent tools and have become one of the most attractive information storage options thanks to their portability and a large amount of information that can be stored on them, however, all storage media can reach to fail and when this happens, it is understandable that you do not want to lose your information, fortunately, if you have an external APFS hard drive that has lost information, there is a simple solution, here I will show you how to recover your information and I will also explain what are the reasons for a disk to be unmounted.

Part 1: Recover Data from Unmounted APFS External Hard Drive

A connectivity failure with a hard disk (whether external or not), maybe due to multiple reasons and this usually brings with it some consequences regarding the integrity of the information stored in the device.

APFS is the data storage and management format used by the Mac operating system on its Disks. If you have an APFS External Hard Drive that has been unmounted, you are probably thinking about mount it again and continuing to use it, as usual, however, it is possible that the origin of the problem is due to physical failure or some connection error so reuse the disk might not be the best option and therefore you need to recover your information and replace the disk, fortunately, this is possible, even if the disk is damaged and does not allow the operating system to boot, the information is recoverable and in this post, I will explain how to do it step by step.

It is important to make a diagnosis of the origin of the problem since in most cases, the solution is quite simple to make, and once you identify the reason for the failure you can determine if you need to replace the disk or not and if so, I will show you how to perform the data repair or recovery process.

Part 2: What Are the Causes of APFS Unmounting?

The causes of this problem are usually easy to prevent by taking some precautionary measures, also, knowing the possible causes is necessary to make an accurate diagnosis of the current state of your hard drive and thus know if it is prudent or not to continue using it if you need change some component. Next, I will talk about the most common causes of APFS unmounting.

Improper Connection: It is important to make sure that the cables of your external disk are properly connected since otherwise, this can interrupt the data transfer processes and cause damage to your information.

Bad Connector: External disks are exposed to environmental factors and possible physical damage caused by the constant movement of their components. It is advisable to periodically check the physical condition of all components.

File System Corruption: When a disk has suffered data corruption, the disk format may be affected, making your Mac unable to recognize the disk as a storage unit

Faulty Thunderbolt or USB Port: Sometimes when USB or Thunderbolt ports are damaged or clogged with dust, they do not allow a stable connection with the devices. This problem can be easily solved by cleaning the ports with compressed air.

Disk Utility Failure: Disk Utility is the native Mac tool that allows you to manage storage devices. An error using this tool can unmount the disk.

Software Conflict: It is possible that a disk suddenly presents errors without being damaged and this may be due to a compatibility conflict with some installed software, so it is recommended not to install software from unknown or unverified developers.

Malfunction of macOS: The operating system malfunction is perhaps the least common cause but it is an option that you should not rule out. If this were the cause, the problem should be solved by reinstalling the operating system.

Part 3: Steps to Mount Your APFS Drive via Disk Utility

Mounting a disk is necessary to be able to use it regardless of the use you want to give the information you store on it. Through "Disk Utility" it is very simple since the tool has a practical and intuitive user interface.

Step 1: Launch "Disk Utility"

mount using disk utility image 1

You can find this tool in the "Applications" section.

Step 2: Select the APFS external hard drive

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Once "Disk utility" is open you will see a list on the left side of the window, here you will find all the connected disks.

Step 3: Click on the "Mount" button

mount using disk utility image 3

Once you have selected the drive, in the top panel you will see some available options, now click on "Mount"

Part 4: How to Recover Data from Unmounted APFS External Hard Drive?

It is always advisable to have at least one backup copy of the information you deem necessary, in this way, if for any reason your storage device is damaged, you could easily access your information through the backup copies. If you do not have a backup of your information, do not worry, it is possible to fully recover the information you had stored on your Unmounted External Hard Drive. Recover information from an unmounted external hard drive may seem like a difficult task, however, there are professional information recovery tools that can make this task extremely simple. Recoverit Data Recovery is an ideal tool since it can recover the information even when it has been deleted or corrupted and is very easy to use, with a couple of clicks and in just a few minutes you will recover your information.

Here I will show you how to use it.

Step 1: Select the Drive

mac data recovery

To recover lost or deleted files from an external hard drive, you should choose it as the target location for data scanning and searching.

Step 2: Scan the Drive

mac scanning lost files

An all-around scan starts once you make the choice. It usually takes a few minutes.

During the process, you can filter and locate files of your choice.

Step 3: Preview and recover files

mac audio files recovery

After it, Recoverit provides the preview function for you before recovery. A variety of files can be previewed, such as pictures, videos, movies, audios, music, documents, and so forth. Then, select one or more files you want to restore and click "Recover" to get all of them back.

Part 5: How to Reformat the Unmounted APFS Drive?

The format of a hard disk is essential for the operating system to identify the logical order of structuring the files, therefore, all storage devices need a format to manage data and the information that makes up this format is hosted within the storage device, whereby, when the storage medium suffers loss or damage to the information contained, this may compromise the integrity of its format.

If your External Hard Drive suffered damage to its format but remains in good physical condition, you probably want to reformat the disk to continue using it. Formatting an external hard drive is simple and you can use the Disk Utility tool for this purpose but it is important to keep in mind that once you do this process you will erase all the information stored on the disk so you will not be able to recover it by conventional means, but don't worry, you can do it with the help of a professional data recovery software.

Step 1: Open the "Disk Utility"

reformat unmounted apfs drive image 1

Go to "Utilities" and click on "Disk Utility"

Step 2: Choose the Drive

reformat unmounted apfs drive image 2

Click the icon of your hard drive in the sidebar on the left. (Make sure you have selected the correct disk since formatting the disk will erase the information it contains).

Step 3: Go to "Erase" section

reformat unmounted apfs drive image 3

Click the Erase tab along the top of the window and choose a Format and a Name for the Disk.

Step 4: Click on "Erase"

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Click the Erase button to start the format operation. After the format completes, the unreadable/unmounted APFS drive will be working again.


An unmounted hard drive may seem like a serious problem, however, it is a common problem experienced by users of external hard drives and with just taking some precautionary measures, you can prevent these problems from arising in the future, also, if any of your disks have been unmounted, you can recover your information very easily with the help of Recoverit since this tool is capable of recovering all kinds of information from an external or internal storage device and can even repair the information if it has been damaged.

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Theo Lucia

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