External hard drives have become a popular choice for additional storage on Mac computers. However, they are not immune to problems and can encounter issues that prevent them from functioning properly.

There are many reasons why your external hard drive may be corrupted or damaged – we will cover some of the most common ones, teach you how to troubleshoot these issues, and present some of the best methods you can use to repair external hard drives on Mac devices.

Table of Content
    1. Ensure the USB/HDMI Connection and Ports Are Working
    2. Mount the Drive to Fix the External Hard Drive Error on Mac
    3. Repair the External Drive Using Mac First Aid Utilities
    4. Repair the External Hard Drive Using Your Mac Terminal
    5. Try a Good External Hard Drive Repair Software for Mac
    6. Reformat the Corrupted External Hard Drive on Mac

Troubleshooting External Hard Drive Failure & Data Loss

Before you head to the fixing methods, you should know what is wrong with your external hard drive. Here are some common issues and how to recognize them.

Failure sign Cause
🔊 Clicking noises from the drive This sign may indicate mechanical damage to your drives. For instance, the motor responsible for reading and writing may malfunction, leading to a clicking noise.
🖱 Disconnections If you cannot seem to get a stable connection from your external drive, it may be a sign that your ports are faulty. They may be damaged or dirty, leading to the disconnection problem.
⛔ Unresponsive drive In these scenarios, the damage may be from hardware or software. You may have contracted a virus or mishandled your device, leading to an unresponsive drive.
💻 Drive not recognized If your Mac device notifies you that it cannot detect the drive, it can be a sign of numerous underlying issues. For instance, it may be physical damage or drive misformatting.
🐌 Slower drives In most cases, slower reading or writing speeds are a sign of data fragmentation. The blocks or fragments that store your information may become weaker or unresponsive.

These are some of the most common signs and causes of corrupted external hard drives on Mac, but you may experience something that isn’t on the list. Nonetheless, you can try some of the tools mentioned below to repair your external hard drives on Mac.

6 Ways to Fix a Corrupted External Hard Drive From Mac

Once you troubleshoot your drive and see what is going on, you can choose a method that will fix your issues. We will present some of the most reliable and successful methods you can use to fix your corrupted external hard drives from Mac in just a few minutes.

Way 1. Ensure the USB/HDMI Connection and Ports Are Working

Sometimes, the problem may not be in your external hard drives but in the readers. Before you suspect your hard drives aren’t working, check USB/HDMI connection and ports to ensure they work flawlessly. These issues may mislead you into believing something is wrong with your drives, so eliminate this issue before anything else.

If you want to check your connections and ports on your Mac, here’s what you should do:

  1. Take an external device you know is working on other ports (for instance, your mouse).
  2. Put it in the suspected USB port.
  3. Check whether everything is working correctly.
    usb and hdmi ports on mac devices

If you are experiencing issues with a device you are 100% sure works on other ports, the problem may not be in your external hard drive. Instead, your ports may be dirty or damaged, giving a false impression that your external hard drive is damaged. You can also try to insert your external hard drive into another port to check whether the drive is causing the issue.

Way 2. Mount the Drive to Fix the External Hard Drive Error on Mac

Mounting is an automatic process that happens in the background as soon as you insert your external hard drive. This process is responsible for accessing and transferring your data from your PC to the drive. If you are experiencing issues with this process, it may be a sign that your drive is corrupted or damaged. You may receive a message from your Mac device about this issue. If you do, here’s what you should do to mount the drive and get it up and running again:

  1. Open the Finder option on your Mac and select Preferences.
    open mac finder
  2. Under the General settings, select External Disks.
    finder general settings
  3. Head to the Sidebar tab and select External Disks again under the Location option.
    show external disks in sidebar

After this, your disk should be working properly. You can also reinsert your drive and restart your device to fix the mounting issue. If this method isn’t working, you can force mount your drive by following these steps:

  1. Launch the Disk Utility setting on your Mac.
  2. Select your external drive and press the Mount option in the top right corner.
    mount the external drive on mac disk utility

This should definitely fix the issue. If not, mounting may not be the problem.

Way 3. Repair the External Drive Using Mac First Aid Utilities

Mac devices have integrated first-aid help in cases you are experiencing issues with your external hard drives. This tool can detect minor problems, such as formatting, directory structure, etc. If used properly, it can also help prevent major external hard drive issues, thus preserving your memories for longer. You can try this option by following the steps below:

  1. Open the Finder option on your device, select Applications, and head to Utilities.
  2. Open the Disk Utility option and click on the View option in the top left section.
  3. Select Show All Devices and click on the drive you want to fix.
  4. Click on the First Aid option and select Run to start the process.
finding the first aid tool

The program will take up to five minutes to finish detecting and fixing issues. However, this will only work with smaller problems and may not offer a permanent solution to your problem. If nothing has changed with this method, you should opt for other options from this guide.

Way 4. Repair the External Hard Drive Using Your Mac Terminal

If you doubt there are more severe issues with your external hard drives – you can try the Terminal method with your Mac device. This method can detect and efficiently solve more complex issues, but the process is also more difficult.

You should pay special attention if you take this step to avoid possible mistakes. You will need to perform a file system consistency check to be able to detect such issues. Here’s how to repair your external hard drive using the Mac Terminal option:

  1. Press Command + Spacebar to open Spotlight, then Type "Terminal" and press Enter to open Terminal on your Mac device.
    open mac terminal
  2. Type diskutil list in the program and press Enter.
    the diskutil list command
  3. Find the external drive you want to repair.
  4. Restart your device and boot it in Single User Mode by pressing Command+S on your keyboard.
  5. After the white text stops appearing on the screen, type in the following command: /sbin/fsck –fy and press Enter.
    /sbin/fsck –fy command
  6. After that, input the /sbin/fsck_[external drive system] -fy /dev/[drive identifier] command (make sure to input your drive system and identifier in the brackets) and press Enter.
  7. The program will automatically scan and fix the errors and will restart your device.

This method is one of the most effective options you can try if you have more complex issues with your external hard drives on macOS.

Way 5. Try a Good External Hard Drive Repair Software for Mac

Sometimes, you may need a little help from third-party software programs to repair your external hard drives on Mac and fix all issues. However, finding the ideal software may be challenging and overwhelming due to the number of options available.

You should search for trustworthy companies and websites to help you on your journey and not cause additional issues. Moreover, you should read other users’ experiences to determine which option would be best for your needs.

Some popular external hard drive repair software options available for Mac include:

  1. TestDisk (Free and open source)
  2. Drive Genius
  3. DiskWarrior 5
  4. TechTool Pro
  5. Wondershare Recoverit

Way 6. Reformat the Corrupted External Hard Drive on Mac

In some cases, your hard drive issues may not be as complex or tough as they may seem to be. If you cannot access the content of your drives or upload new data to an external device, it may be a sign of bad formatting. In these cases, all you have to do is reformat the corrupted drive to be able to use it again.

Note: Reformatting your external hard drive will erase all data stored on it. Ensure you have backups of your important files, or recover the files before proceeding.

Here’s how to repair your external hard drive using the reformatting option:

  1. Open Utilities on your Mac device.
    open utilities on mac
  2. Select the drive you want to reformat and click on the Erase button.
    reformat external drive on mac
  3. Click the Done button after the program finishes reformatting.

Now, you can access your external hard drive and use it normally. However, we need to mention that this option will delete all of the data on your device, so ensure to back up the data beforehand or use some of the retrieval tools available to get your data back. We will present one such tool below.

How To Retrieve Lost Data From the Corrupted External Disk on Mac

If you have been dealing with a corrupted external hard drive, the chances of you losing the data stored on the said disk are high. If you have preserved some of your favorite memories or sensitive information on the drive, you need a special tool to regain your lost data.

One of the best, most efficient tools you can find is Wondershare Recoverit – a universal hard drive recovery software that covers hundreds of data loss scenarios and can retrieve thousands of file formats. No matter the type of data you have lost from your drive, you can get it back with the help of Recoverit.

Wondershare Recoverit – Leader in Data Recovery

  • Recovers data from all types and brands of external hard drives, including WD, Seagate, Toshiba, Samsung, Dell, etc.
  • Handles 500+ data loss scenarios, such as deletion, formatting, disk corruption, virus attacks, etc.
  • Recovers lost or deleted files, photos, videos, music, emails, and other 1000+ file types effectively, safely and completely.
  • Supports various file systems used by hard drives, including exFAT, FAT32, NTFS, HFS+, APFS, and many more.
Free Download
Free Download

The recovery process is quick, easy, and secure. Here’s how to use this tool to retrieve your data effectively:

  1. Download Recoverit to your Mac device and open the program.
  2. Select your external disk under the Hard Drives and Locations option and click Scan.
    select external hard drive for recovery
  3. Let the hard drive recovery tool scan for lost files on the drive.
    scan for lost files on external drive
  4. Once the program finishes scanning, you can preview the files you want to recover.
  5. Select the desired files and click the Recover button to finish the process.
    recover files from external hard disk on mac

In a few minutes, you will have all of your valuable data back on your device. You can choose where to save it and conclude the recovery process.

Free Download
Free Download

Bonus Part: How To Prevent External Hard Drive From Corruption in the Future?

Since damaging your external drives is stressful, you may want to try to avoid such situations in the future, especially if you are storing some of your favorite memories on the said drive. You can try several tips to protect your external drives and keep them away from damage.

  • Handle external drives carefully: They are fragile and prone to damage. Invest in protective covers or cases to shield them from humidity, dirt, and falls. Handle and store them with care in dry places.
  • Insert and remove drives properly into your Mac: Using force to insert or eject your drives may lead to damage in the long run, and you may lose your data just because you weren’t paying attention.
  • Use reliable software: Although hardware damage can lead to severe issues, software damage may be even more problematic. If you use unreliable software solutions, your drives may simply stop working, leading to stress-inducing scenarios. If you don’t update your software, you may fall victim to cyber-attacks, or your drive may simply stop working due to outdated systems.
  • Utilize backup tools: Use tools like Wondershare UBackit to safely back up your data and protect it from potential damage. Regularly backing up your data is essential for its protection.

FAQs About Repairing External Hard Drive on Mac

  • Can a Mac hard drive be repaired?
    Yes, a Mac hard drive can often be repaired, depending on the severity of the issue. Both hardware and software problems can be addressed using built-in macOS tools like Disk Utility or third-party repair software. For hardware issues, it might be necessary to consult a professional technician or an authorized Apple service center.
  • How do I open a corrupted external hard drive on a Mac?
    To access a corrupted external hard drive on a Mac, you can try the following steps:
    1. Connect the external hard drive to your Mac.
    2. Go to Finder > Go > Utilities > Disk Utility.
    3. In Disk Utility, find your external hard drive in the left sidebar and click on it.
    4. Click the First Aid button at the top of the Disk Utility window.
    5. Click Run to start the repair process.
    6. Disk Utility will attempt to repair the corrupted hard drive.

    If Disk Utility can't repair the drive or you still can't access the data, you may need to use a third-party data recovery software, such as Wondershare Recoverit, to recover your files.
  • How do I test my external hard drive on a Mac?
    To test your external hard drive on a Mac, you can use the built-in Disk Utility tool to check for errors and the overall health of the drive.
    1. Connect the external hard drive to your Mac.
    2. Open Disk Utility
    3. In Disk Utility, find your external hard drive and click on it.
    4. Click the First Aid button at the top of the Disk Utility window.
    5. Click Run to start the diagnosis process. Disk Utility will check the external hard drive for errors and attempt to repair them if necessary.

Conclusion

Many people use external hard drives to store their valuable information and protect it from the passage of time, but what happens if those drives get damaged or corrupted? You may not be able to access their content, and you may even lose the data you have stored in that location.

In this guide, we have mentioned some of the most common signs and causes that will help you recognize what is wrong with your drive and presented methods you can try to fix the corrupted drive issue successfully and quickly.

However, in case you lose your data, you should always have a recovery tool to retrieve what has been lost. One of the best tools that will help you on this quest is Recoverit. It will retrieve all your data within minutes, and you won’t have to worry about permanently losing your valuables.

Ying Hua
Ying Hua Jan 27, 24
Share article: