Been through a bit of the suggested answers, nothing has been suggested that I haven't tried (unsuccesfully, as of yet), so I turn to the group for answers.

I have a 2.5" HD from an MacBook 2011-vintage. It was that computer's boot drive, and in fact will mount, and boot, a 1,1 Mac Tower that I've got it in. It's running 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard). The drive has physical damage (bad sectors), and performs poorly to not at all during finder operations (eg, copy). I've tried to recover the data on the drive (iPhoto/iTunes stuff, text docs, things that aren't backed up) using Data Rescue 3, to no avail so far - it sees the drive, but just hangs and becomes non-responsive. Prosoft's suggestion is to clone the drive and recover from the clone. Sounds good, but...

I've now got the drive on another MacPro system, in an eSATA dock, and am attempting to clone it to a fresh internal drive. I tried using the Terminal command dd, as was suggested in another post here, but after an overnight run nothing seemed to be happening. Currently, I'm attempting to clone it using Disk Utility's "Restore" tab...but it seems that nothing is happening beyond the "Setup" phase.

If specifying "dd", using the correct arguments to create nulls to fill bad sectors, makes a bit-by-bit clone...then why isn't it working?

  • 1
    When you say "damaged" HD is it the data on the drive that is illogical and the hardware is fine or is the hardware failing and you don't trust that Apple's software that assumes working hardware will make a decent attempt at saving some of the data if it cannot save all of it?
    – bmike
    Oct 11, 2015 at 18:50
  • Hardware is failing. Disk Warrior fixes the catalog, but indicates there are "bad blocks". I'm a user, not a techie, so if I need to be a bit more specific with my descriptions, by all means ask! All I wanna do is get this thing cloned so I can begin to attempt a recovery. Oct 11, 2015 at 19:20
  • ddrescue is a much better utility then regular dd, although you have to compile it yourself under OS X or install it via something like Homebrew, if available that way. It will yield to the bad sectors better the dd and continue to copy the rest of the disk. You do need to use the correct options so you'll need to read the ddrescue documentation. Oct 13, 2015 at 14:20

2 Answers 2


Your best bet when hardware is failing is Data Rescue and not any tool that tries to rebuild/minimize/rewrite errors.

You will need a second drive of equal capacity and time to let the software take several passes at reading the data to get the best results. But, unless you have a budget of $300 to $3000 and want to send the drive off for professional help - you can't do better than Data Rescue in my estimation and experience.

Data Rescue has professional support and many bells and settings to tell it to really try to access the data by hook or crook, so a call into them would be my next step as you indicated it's not working with your settings.

  • Thank you. I have been in contact with Prosoft's tech support; they're wonderful and have helped me with stuff before. BUT...they're recommend procedure is to "clone the drive, and recover from the clone." I can drag the quote from the email if I care to. AND, as you can see from reading above...I am unable to clone the drive, whether within DR, DU, or Terminal. So...? Oct 11, 2015 at 21:52

I am a computer repair technician of many years, working on macs, windows systems, linux systems. I personally have great success in cloning mac disks using the following technique:

  1. Download and boot off of a Ubuntu liveCD. (Same as their install disk, use the 'try ubuntu' option.)
  2. open terminal.
  3. sudo bash (you're now at a root-level prompt)
  4. add-apt-repository "deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu $(lsb_release -sc) universe" (This will enable the 'universe' repository, which we need for the next line)
  5. apt-get install lsscsi gddrescue
  6. lsscsi (this will give you the /dev/sdX (source) /dev/sdY (destination)letters of your drives)
  7. umount /dev/sdX
  8. umount /dev/sdY (Just in case ubuntu mounted the disks, you could copy files-to-recover before this point)
  9. ddrescue /dev/sdX /dev/sdY --force
  10. Sit back and wait till it returns to the prompt.

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