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[Bug-ddrescue] Questions on recovering OS X laptop SATA disk with Linux

From: baobab
Subject: [Bug-ddrescue] Questions on recovering OS X laptop SATA disk with Linux box or external SATA-to-USB adaptor
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2008 15:06:48 -0400 (EDT)

Dear list members,

I hope you all don't mind my asking a few questions of you. I have a 160 Mb 
Seagate 2.5 inch SATA drive which has been in a Macbook. 

The day before yesterday, it suddenly failed and now is completely unusable, it 
makes a repetitive clicking sound. It sounds exactly like this..

It is less than a year old. It was not the OEM Apple-provided drive, it is an 
Luckily I still have the old drive, which was a 60 GB unit, which I have 
reverted to.

Unfortunately, most of it had not been backed up. I have a lot of things I want 
on it, including a lot of my newer digital photos. I realize that it is 
probably a head crash, from the sound made. (is that right?)  It wont mount at 
all under OS X. It doesnt respond to commands like plist, at least when it is 
plugged in externally.

The drive was partitioned into three HFS-plus partitions. Also, my home 
directory on it lives inside a "FileVault" encrypted partition. :(

As far as additional hardware I could use in the recovery operation, I have an 
external SATA-to-USB adaptor, my Macbook running the original (smaller) drive 
with ddrescue 1.8 compiled and running on that, and a Linux box running an 
older Fedora version, which I could also boot up using a LiveCD. the Linux box 
has native SATA and a SATA connector free.

I also have a USB flash drive.. with around  a gigabyte free.. (I was thinking 
I could use this for the recovery log if I boot from a LiveCD or DVD, in case 
something were to crash..say if the recovery takes a long time) Does that make 

I also have a 500GB external USB drive which I can format as either ext3 (for 
recovery on Linux) or hfsplus (for recovery under OS X) to hold whatever files 
I may be able to recover, if any. That could be used to hold the files 
extracted from the drive if I boot the Linix box from a LiveCD.

I have heard that when you recover a SATA drive, its better to use a 
motherboard-based SATA connection, it being more direct. .. is that true? My 
other option to connect it is the external SATA-to-USB adaptor.

Also, is there a good LiveCD (or DVD) that has a recent version of ddrescue on 
it as well as a good complement of other tools? Is there something like knoppix 
that has ddrescue on it, or is it common to simlply compile ddrescue (I could 
do it on my flash drive) at the time of use..

Would that be a good way to recover the OS X disk using the Linux box? (then I 
could in esence setup a dedicated recovery system temporarily, by disconnecting 
the currently connected drives - eliminating any risk of file corruption, and 
write to the empty external drive only?)

When I recover the drive, on whatever platform, if it turns out that I can 
extract data, should I image the whole drive at once or partition by partition, 
(assuming I can get the partition map) What options to ddrescue would you use?

Currently, the broken drive doesn't mount under either OSX or show up in dmesg 
when its conected to the Linux box- I just get a message about the SATA port 
responding slowly in dmesg - so it may be completely dead.. except for the 

Also, am I right in gathering that the options are trying to image the entire 
drive (all three partitions at once) to a single image file or to try to 
capture each partition individually to three separate partitions that I would 
have to create on the drive?  The Mac image format is .dmg but am I correct 
that that is just for one partition? I don't know how to o from one big file to 
the three partitions or if that would even make sense.

What is the difference between the disk and rdisk /dev entries on OS X and are 
the rdisk entries what I would want to use if I do the recovery on that 

Anyway, given the hardware I have and the problem, what do you think makes the 
most sense? What would you do? 

And, finally, I have also heard that sometimes hard drives work again briefly 
if they are frozen. Would it make sense to try to freeze it in a bag or is it 
really stupid? If the first attempt doesnt deliver anything, should I just give 

Ive already spent two days researching this.. and from what I gather from 
browing the web sites for data recovery services, problems like this clicking 
are usually serious ones.. But then, of course they would say that. They want 
my business. 

But, the files are not SO irreplaceable that I would be willing to spend big 
$$$ recovering them. Mostly, lots of digital photos, lots of PDF and text 
files, and a huge number of web bookmarks. So ddrescue is my best option.

*THANK YOU* very much in advance for ANY help you can give me.


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