Recently, I lost 1,7TB on videofiles on my external hard drive. A terrible loss since it took me many evenings categorising all this data.
With a deep-scan with DataRescue 3, I was able to recover most of it, but they all have the same awful filename "M00001.avi", "M00002.avi",...

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First question, is there any way to improve this results? Meaning to retrieve the file including the proper naming?

  • Is there any chance the filename was written to the file itself like idv3 tags on mp3 files? Unless you have an alternate catalog, the filesystem metadata like file name are likely all gone.
    – bmike
    Oct 17, 2013 at 13:11

1 Answer 1


Data rescue is fairly sophisticated program on the Mac. If there were any traces the filename in the filesystem, that software puts the file name back when it performs a simple undelete. What you are seeing are video fragments of files that were found on the filesystem totally detached from a directory entry.

In short you're not going to be able to get the file names back without a backup or other source of the file names.

Hopefully, those AVI files are actually complete files and not just fragments of video content that it managed patch together with a proper header and a sequentially made-up filename.

  • The recovered AVI's are most of the time complete, but without it's proper naming, it's worthless to me... Should an expensive and thorough program like Data Rescue be able to retrieve simple information like a filename?
    – Michiel
    Jan 2, 2013 at 19:24
  • It does retrieve file names if it can find a copy of the directory structure and match up the inode / filesystem location to the directory structure. The expensive and thorough programs are not really for sale, but designed for in-house use by companies like Kroll Ontrack :)
    – bmike
    Jan 2, 2013 at 19:31
  • Also - have you run a command like strings and mdls on the files to see if any metadata fields or tags exist hidden within the AVI files? Most files quicktime creates on Mac have several copies of the name embedded in the data as well as written to the filesystem.
    – bmike
    Jan 2, 2013 at 19:37
  • I just ran the mdls command on some files, but it turned out empty... So, if I say the filenames are lost for ever and ever, I'm correct?
    – Michiel
    Jan 2, 2013 at 19:59
  • Backups preserve metadata, so unless you discover a backup of the files with metadata intact, this was the last ditch pass to provide you with the data and not the metadata from unallocated space on the file system.
    – bmike
    Sep 14 at 11:13

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