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I have a 120 GB Seagate SATA hard drive formatted as the default "Mac OS Extended Journaled" in a 2006 MacBook with Snow Leopard. It also has Windows XP installed with BootCamp. Everything worked fine until I was forced to hard-boot the Mac when the operation system froze. Now when I boot the computer, I get a flashing question mark over a gray folder (This means that no bootable OS was found).

What I have tried:

  • Boot from Snow Leopard update CD and use Disk Utility's repair tool.
  • Boot from Tiger OSX install CD and use Disk Utility's repair tool.
  • Boot the mac into FireWire Target Disk Mode to access the hard drive from another mac over FireWire.
  • Connect the hard drive to another computer as an external hard drive with USB.
  • Put the hard drive in a freezer overnight and then retry the above.

For all of the above, the result was the same. The hard drive would never show up on the desktop, in Finder, or in DiskUtility on the appropriate computer. Therefore, any disk repair/recovery utility I try can't find the hard drive to repair it.

I need to recover some files from the hard drive.
Any hints, suggestions, and/or answers would be greatly appreciated. I can post additional information if it would be helpful.

More information:

  • I ran the Apple Hardware Test on the MacBook with no errors.
  • When the hard drive powers on, I hear the read head move and the disc spin for about 25 seconds then both stop.
  • When using FireWire Target Disk Mode with the hard drive in place, it takes over a minute of booting until the FireWire symbol shows on the screen. While, with no internal hard drive installed, it only takes a moment.
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Does the hard drive show up on the SATA bus in System Profiler? If not, then you have a hardware problem and no software tool will help. – Spiff Jul 2 '11 at 15:19
Wait if you can use the Disk Utility's repair tool on the hard drive, how does it not show up? (I'm understanding that the hard drive has to be there in order to repair it...) – Vervious Jul 2 '11 at 21:12
Have you tried Disk Drill? It might help you. – user88840 Jul 4 '11 at 20:13
It doesn't show up in Disk Utility. And I can't use the repair tool. – cduck Jul 5 '11 at 20:35

This sounds very similar to an issue I had only 10 days ago. I tried everything (except the freeze one, that isn't appropriate here, IMHO). Your HD doesn't sound damaged, the structure of the data on it sounds damaged.

You NEED DiskWarrior. When you buy it it comes with a boot disk that will work with your system. You simply boot up your machine with the boot disk DVD in the drive and hold the c key whilst booting. This will boot you into DiskWarrior and from there, you can rebuild your drive's directory. Once it is complete (it may take as much as 24 hours in some cases), you'll reboot your machine and it will probably boot as normal.

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"I hear the read head move and the disc spin for about 25 seconds then both stop."

If the disk spins down, it's generally a sign of bad heads for Seagates. Now there is no way for me to know for sure without actually seeing it so I have to say that, but a heads issue is a solid guess. But it does seem like something that isn't easily solved.

"Put the hard drive in a freezer overnight and then retry the above."

From what I understand from our engineers, the "freezer trick" generally hasn't done anything on drives for a while now, though it did have a chance of working in some very specific situations in the past. It does have a chance of causing more damage if operating with condensation. We use targeted heat for some problems which might do a similar thing but that's when we actually know what the problem is. We really need to get up that page on our site about the freezer trick.

You might have to consider professional data recovery service because there is likely a physical problem. I'd recommend against running it more. Do a little research, call a couple places, find one that you're comfortable with that does physical recoveries in a clean environment. Most offer free evaluation so you know what it will cost before you commit to anything.

(I realize now this is 4 years old now, but it showed it was active today for some reason. Did you have any luck?)

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maybe you can try Kvisoft File Recovery Mac to repair your hard drive. It can help you recover deleted files from hard disk.

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