If you have a non-mounting drive, you have a few options of how to deal with that drive. This article will help you evaluate your particular situation and allow you to make a more informed decision on what plan of action to take.
Every scenario is indeed different and every hard drive directory is it’s own unique entity. When a drive is not mounting, there are usually errors or issues in the directory which is causing it to not mount (this is assuming the drive shows up in Disk Utility, and that it not a drive suffering from any physical issues).
If your drive does show up in Disk Utility, but is not mounting, then there are typically two types of actions you can take:
1) Recovery – This is the safest bet when it comes to dealing with a corrupted directory for a drive that won’t mount. Use a hard drive recovery software tool like Data Rescue 3 to scan that non-mounting drive and recover any/all files over to a 2nd drive. Data Rescue 3 will NOT write to the drive it is scanning, which means it cannot cause any further issue with that drive in question. This is crucial if the data on that drive is not backed up anywhere else.
2) Repair – This is a more risky way of dealing with a corrupted directory. If you have a backup of all the data on the drive, then it is ok to try to repair the drive directory. If you do not have a backup, then you stand the risk that if the repair fails, you could be damaging your original directory structure which can be a severe problem. When you are dealing with thousands of files that have a specific name and folder structure, you will want to preserve it if you can.
One safeguard to do before you attempt to repair a non-mounting drive that is not backed up is to make a clone of the non-mounting drive. This ensures that you have a separate copy of the original drive should something go wrong with the repair attempt. However, most backup software will not be able to clone the drive since it is not mounting. In this scenario, we recommend using the Clone feature in Data Rescue 3 (you can even use just the demo of Data Rescue 3 as that will allow you to clone). Data Rescue 3 is a powerful software tool that will allow you to clone drives that are not mounting on the desktop (but are showing up in Disk Utility). By having this clone backup, you are taking the necessary precautions before attempting a directory repair.
If you take this approach each time you’re dealing with a questionable drive you will minimize data loss. This leads to the final point: It is always a good idea to have more than one tool in your software binder. There is not just one application for every condition. Consider using Data Rescue 3 and Drive Genius 3 along with a spare drive, the next time you’re in a pinch.