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My iMac has been playing up and I thought it was the system, but then it froze completely and I had to force quit. When I restarted it booted in to an external drive that has its own system, but my main HD won't mount with the message "the disk you inserted is not readable by this computer". Ouch.

Considering it will still spin (I've removed it and put it on a SATA USB connector) what software options are recommended for recovery and what should I expect? There are a lot of options out there but any recommended that aren't too expensive? Do they just recover fragments or a mess of files? Its a Seagate SATA drive 3TB I installed in 2016.

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I've used Data Rescue before: https://www.prosofteng.com

You'll get a big load of files, without hierarchy or filenames.

Note for the future: you can buy a backup disk for less than most data recovery software costs.

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  • About 80-90% is backed up, its just the most recent small works that I don't have backed up and I won't purchase any tools until I work out what's missing and whether its worth paying for the software just for that. But I'm still interested in what people get out of the software. I recall years ago using that app on OS 9 and it was just a ton of text fragments of seemingly the same files multiple times. I do mostly photo and video so no use for that. – Rusty Apr 5 at 1:06
  • I realise now I've purchased Data Rescue 4 but I can't find the app on my backup drives and Prosoft doesn't allow downloads again. I have so far found one failed complete HD backup (files missing) and the old 1TB drive I swapped out to replace for the the above failed drive has now itself failed, again a Seagate. So there is a lot of risk over time. My WD myCloud NAS drive which has a lot of old files on it is also failing so its not possible to remove all files from it as it keeps closing the connection. Crazy. – Rusty Apr 5 at 10:27
  • You'll have to download version 5 and buy an upgrade licence. – benwiggy Apr 5 at 10:51
  • After a few hours scouring the internet, most of the apps available can be downloaded for free and will do a preview scan and then you can pay to recover the files from that. It tried about 5 and they all said they couldn't find any files. Disk Drill seemed the most promising as it did a reasonable scan job and the drive adaptor flashed while it did it. Alas all of the apps reported no files. Don't know why. Is there any way to see the contents via command line if its lost its directory list? – Rusty Apr 5 at 12:30

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