Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

So I was using my Mac with my external hard drive connected via USB.

I moved about 10 GB of data to it (via drag and drop while holding down the Command key to move the files rather than to copy them). They moved to the drive all right, but as I was having some issues and the Finder crashed after the transfer, I was unable to eject the volume and later everything froze so I had to do a hard restart (hold the power button).

When I remounted the volume (plugged the external hard drive back in) it no longer had any of the files which I moved onto it.

As it was a lot of data, how can I recover these files?

share|improve this question
At least on windows, a copy is just a move then delete - are you sure they're not still on your machine? – Phoshi Mar 26 '10 at 15:27
If you haven't already check out if they are still available on your local hard drive. Otherwise I'd recommend never use Move again for this exact reason. It may save the deleting the files off the original manually after the fact but when it goes wrong it really goes wrong. – Chealion Mar 26 '10 at 15:59
@Phoshi: I think you meant "a move is just a copy then a delete" instead of "a copy is just a move then delete". – Hello71 Jul 14 '10 at 20:46
Let's not forget something caused the computer to crash. I wonder why finder would delete a file unless it successfully moved. On the other hand I'm thinking on this fake drives that are actually a small drive plus some electronics that report the drive much bigger. Don't know but maybe even an unlucky hardware error can cause an error that will report the move successful. – bdecaf May 1 '12 at 5:18

Data Rescue is the most efficient data recovery program I have used on the Mac. They're up to version 3 now. I used version 2 a few years ago to successfully recover almost 20 GB of music files that I had lost.

The only caveat (and this may be true for most data recovery programs) is that with Data Rescue, your recovered files won't keep their original file names. You will get a list of serialized names (For example: file000.mp4, file001.mp4, file002.mp4) and it will be up to you to figure out which file is which. On my case, that was not a problem thanks to iTunes--which figured out how to rename the files by looking at the meta data of each file.

Good luck.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.