How to Repair a Corrupt Mac Hard Drive

Symptoms of a Corrupt Mac Hard Drive

A hard drive rapped with a stethoscope.

There are a variety of problems that can occur on your Mac that stem from issues with your directory, permissions, or user specific errors. Drive Genius has an excellent hard drive repair tool to help you navigate your way through hard drive issues and fix your hard drive to prevent data loss. There are some common symptoms that you should be aware of that would indicate corruption within a Mac hard drive. If you have experienced any of the following issues, you can run the repair utility within Drive Genius to try and fix the problem with your hard drive:

Note: To run a Repair on your internal startup drive, you will need to boot from a secondary location such as another computer or by creating and using our BootWell utility. Repair in Drive Genius is not available for APFS formatted drives that are encrypted with Apple’s FileVault.

Keeping Your Data Safe and Secure

When dealing with any problems that arise on your computer, it is highly recommended to have a backup of your data prior to using any utility. Time Machine is available on all Apple Mac computers for basic backups, however if you like to have more customization in the files you back up and the time the backup will start, you may be interested in our Data Backup software.

Note: Data Backup Mac is not compatible with macOS 10.13 High Sierra at this time.

Data Backup allows you to create multiple backups set to give you more control in the files you want to backup and where you would like to have those backups stored. It also provides more advanced backup scheduling features and notifications.

Note: If you run regular backups but do not have a recent backup of your files, it is best to create a new backup to a separate external drive you have not used before. When your computer shows signs of corruption, you would not want to overwrite a previous backup with corrupted data by backing up to your original backup drive.

What Causes Drive Corruption?

Be aware and take note of these factors that can cause hard drive corruption on your computer. Any problems affecting your hard drive can result in data being lost or damaged. The longer you wait to run repairs, the less likely drive utility software will be able to fix your hard drive.

Some common causes of corrupted drives result from power related issues, such as power outages, hardware problems dealing with the hard drive or the RAM on your computer, and manually shutting down the computer if it is not responding. Malware can also affect your hard drive drastically, causing corruption and damaging data.

These factors can also affect external drives connected to your computer. Any drive that is connected externally is at risk for corruption. Manually disconnecting an external drive without ejecting the drive entirely will likely cause file corruption and damage to the hard drive. Using a disk utility software such as Drive Genius gives you the tools needed to monitor and repair problems with your hard drive.

Block Inconsistency or Corruption Errors

Have you experienced any problematic factors resulting in hard drive corruption? The Drive Genius DrivePulse tool is an excellent way to properly detect this issue and has the hard drive repair utility available to fix the problem.

Whenever there is corruption on a given drive, DrivePulse will report an error. Corruption issues can be reported as a block inconsistency problem, runtime error or invalid block count. Drive Genius will then instruct you to run a Repair on the drive to fix this issue.

I can recall speaking with customers regarding the DrivePulse feature and the warnings that they had received. They were glad that DrivePulse warns of potential issues it noticed after scanning your hard drive, so they can take the necessary steps to resolve them. I had guided them through the process of running the Repair utility with most of them having successful results.

Repairing a Corrupt Mac Hard Drive

Drive Genius can successfully repair the drive, but occasionally the repair can fail. The Repair utility will fail if the drive is suffering from a significant amount of corruption. When Repair fails on the drive, I recommend backing up the drive if you have not already, and reformatting the drive with either Drive Genius or Disk Utility. I would also recommend running the Physical Check with Drive Genius to check integrity of the drive before continuing use.

It is also possible that the drive is physically failing if the Repair utility fails. The Repair utility will not be able to fix any physical issues on your drive, however using the Physical Check utility in Drive Genius may detect hardware issues associated with your drive. If you find your drive is physically failing and need to recover your files, I would recommend contacting our sister company, The Data Rescue Center, to service the drive and recover the data.

DrivePulse will automatically run a physical check to check for physical damage on the hard drives connected to the computer. This test is scheduled to run once a month and will warn you of potential physical issues a hard drive is having. If you have received a DrivePulse error referring to the physical state of your hard drive, I would recommend contacting support to diagnose the issue.

Fix Permissions with Drive Genius

If you are using a Mac operating system of macOS 10.10.5 or below, you may run into an issue with the permissions of your hard drive. Fix Permissions repairs incorrect file and folder ownership and permissions on startup drives according to Apple specifications. Permission issues can result from bad application installers and lead to applications either failing to open or randomly crashing. If you are experiencing these symptoms, Fix Permissions may be able to resolve them.

You will see Fix Permissions located under the Protect utilities in Drive Genius. If you are operating above macOS Yosemite, your operating system now automatically repairs file permissions during software installations, updates, or changes. The Fix Permissions button utility will not be displayed if you are on a version of Mac OS that does not require manual permission repairs.

Your Hard Drive’s Personal Doctor

Drive Genius has a great drive monitoring tool called DrivePulse, which will run diagnostics on your drive while you are not using it. DrivePulse is automatically activated when Drive Genius is installed and will monitor your hard drive daily, only running scans when that particular device has been idle for 5 minutes.

DrivePulse will scan for physical problems (bad blocks) on the disk once a week, which takes about an hour to complete and it will pause the scan if the computer becomes active before the scan has finished. If at any time during the scanning process, you come back and start using the computer again, the scan will pause and wait until you’re not using your computer again to resume.

For computers running time-scheduled applications such as Time Machine, DrivePulse uses heuristics other than inactivity. For instance, if a Time Machine backup is active, or CPU use is high, or an app has put the system in “kiosk” mode, DrivePulse will not run tasks even if the computer is inactive. In addition, DrivePulse will stop all tests when the computer switches to battery power when working on a laptop and will resume the tests when the main power is restored.

DrivePulse also monitors for corrupted preference files which are a common source of misbehaving or crashing applications. DrivePulse automatically verifies both user and system preferences and alerts you of corrupted files so they can be moved to the trash.

macOS requires a minimal amount of free space for all drives, but the startup drive in particular is sensitive to free space. If the drive’s free space is too low, it can lead to lost data, application crashes, or even system crashes. DrivePulse’s “low free space” detection enhances the system’s built-in detection by automatically adjusting for system use (including virtual memory, sleep images, etc) and warning you of low free space before it becomes a true problem.

This tool will also perform a Verify on the volume to assess the integrity of the catalog and directory structure once a day, which takes about 2 minutes to complete. This follows the same rules as scan in that it will ONLY run when your Mac is not being used and will pause if you start working on your Mac again.

For rotational hard drives, DrivePulse will also scan the volume catalog and its files to determine the amount of fragmentation on the volume. This fragmentation scan is scheduled once a week and takes around 10 seconds to complete.

Drive Monitoring Saves You Time and Money

With Drive Genius DrivePulse, you can easily monitor your hard drive for any issues either with corruption, fragmentation, or physical problems. Using this disk utility software can save you more time, since DrivePulse will keep you updated on the state of your hard drive. Drive Genius even has a hard drive repair utility to fix issues shown with DrivePulse.

Data recovery can be expensive, but can also be avoided by taking the precautionary measures to repair or replace your hard drive when problems arise. Save money in the long run by keeping regular backups of your important data, as well as monitoring those drives with disk utility such as Drive Genius.

About the Author

Matt T.

My name is Matt and I work alongside the technical support team at Prosoft Engineering to provide friendly customer support for anyone using our software. I am also a customer service representative for their sister company, The Data Rescue Center. I enjoy helping others and strive to inform users on how to keep their files safe and maintain performance for their computer.