Get a data lifeguard for Mac
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Most of the time, when you connect an external hard drive to your Mac’s USB port, you soon see it mount on the desktop. Apple likes to ensure these are easy to find, so they also appear in the Finder in the left-hand column under Devices, since Mac’s treat them the same way as another computer.
However, sometimes, an external hard drive doesn't show up. It’s annoying, especially when you need to transfer something right then. And besides, there can be a risk that data on the external USB pen, hard, or flash drive is corrupt, which means you can’t transfer what you need between devices at all.
Corrupt data can be one reason your Mac won't recognize an external drive, but there are other reasons too. Let’s take a look why this is happening and how you can get an external drive to appear on your Mac and get recover data to access to your documents.
How to fix an external disk drive that won't show up on a Mac
Why an external disk drive is not showing up? There could be a few reasons why a USB flash drive isn’t making an appearance.
Open an External Drive Not Showing on Mac
Get a huge set of top utilities for troubleshooting external hard drives not mounting on a Mac
Start with the basics:
- Check whether the drive is properly plugged in. It sounds obvious, but since this relies on a wire - either a USB cable or HDMI cable - if it’s not connected properly then it won’t appear on your desktop.
- Faulty cable. Assuming it’s plugged in correctly, not wobbly or loose, the cable could be at fault. Try connecting the same device with a different cable.
- Damaged USB or flash drive port. It could be a hardware issue with the Mac. If you’ve got another port, try connecting the device to that one.
- Reboot your Mac. Sometimes, if a USB disk won't boot, the cause is macOS issue. Hopefully, some data damage that can be fixed by restarting. Choose the Apple menu > Restart. Or press and hold the power button and, when a dialog box appears, click the Restart or press R. Restarting your Mac essentially clears your macOS’s memory and starts it up fresh.
- Incorrectly formatted drive. Not every external drive is optimized for Macs. It could be that you are trying to connect something only fit to interact with Windows devices. If you’ve got a PC or laptop, it’s worth connecting and seeing if you can access the files through another device. The best way to look for an incorrectly formatted drive is to go to
Apple (in the top toolbar menu) > About This Mac > Storage.
See if the external drive shows up here. For more information, go to the same menu option, then select System Report.
- Mac not formatted to display external drives on the desktop. It could be that your Mac already recognizes the device, but just isn’t showing its icon on the desktop screen. Even if that is the case, the drive will still appear in the left-hand column of the Finder menu under Devices. You should be able to access your drive that way, and, in the Finder menu under Preferences > General, you can check External Drives to ensure that from now on it shows up on your desktop too.
- Reset NVRAM. To do this, shut down or restart your Mac, switch it back on and immediately press these four keys together for at least 20 seconds: Option, Command, P, and R. It should look as though your Mac has started again; if it has, release the keys when you hear the second startup chime. Hopefully, the hard drive has shown up now.
- Check Apple’s Disk Utility to see if an external drive is showing up. Disk Utility is within System Preferences, or you can find it using Spotlight. If it is visible, then click the option to Mount, which should make it visible on the desktop and in the External Drives option in the Finder menu.
Unfortunately, if none of those options has worked and the external drive still isn’t visible, then it could have crashed, or be well and truly broken. But there might still be a way you can recover the data on the external drive.
How to show connected devices in Finder
- Go to the Finder menu and select Preferences (Cmd+comma).
- From General tab tick External disks to ensure that from now on it shows on the desktop.
In the Sidebar tab you can choose which folders and devices will be shown in the left-hand column of the Finder window.
How to add cloud storages to Finder
You can also mount cloud storage as local drive on your Mac. By connecting Google Drive, Dropbox, or Amazon to your computer, you get more space for securely accessing and sharing files. For your ease, add cloud drives to Finder with CloudMounter app, so that you keep them close at hand. You can read detailed instructions on managing cloud storage as local drives here.
Repair the failed external drives with First Aid
If your drive is having problems, you can try to fix them yourself with First Aid and therefore get access to your files. First Aid tool will check the disk for errors and then attempt a repair as needed. It helps to verify and repair a range of issues related to startup HD and external drive problems. If you are able to fix the hard drive or SSD in your Mac (or an external drive) using Disk Utility you will hopefully be able to recover your files.
To run Fist Aid on an external hard drive:
- Open Disk Utility. You can searching for it using Spotlight Search or via Finder > Application > Utility
- Check on your external hard drive, click the First Aid tab and select Run to start running diagnostics.
If First Aid successful in fixing errors, the external drive should be available to mount. If the utility unable to repair issues, your drive truly is broken or formatted using a file system that the Mac cannot read - in this way we suggest you follow the next steps to recover data from a damaged disk drive.
How to recover data from a crashed drive
Thankfully, there is an app for that. Disk Drill is the world’s premier data recovery software for Mac OS X. Powerful enough to retrieve long-lost, mistakenly deleted files from Macs, external hard drives and USB drives and camera cards.
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An easy way to recover lost files on an external hard drive
Providing you already have Disk Drill Pro version, which you can get automatically by downloading from Setapp:
- Connect your drive to the Mac.
- Quit all other applications on the Mac, especially those that may be trying to access the external drive (e.g. iPhoto, Words)
- Launch Disk Drill.
- Click on the external drive that you are trying to recover files from. If it has partitions, you will see all of them. If, however, you still don’t see any volume to the external drive then you may need to try some of the steps above again or read the Disk Drill Scanning FAQs.
- To avoid the external drive being accessed during the recovery process, click Extras next to the drive or drive partition or file, then select Remount Volume As Read Only. A padlock will appear, protecting the drive during the process.
- Now click Rebuild (or Recover) next to the file(s) you are trying to recover. Once the scan is finished - it may take some time if the files are large - a list of files will appeal.
- Next, click Mount Found Items as Disk button on the bottom-left below the scan results.
- Disk Drill “strongly suggest saving the files to a different drive than the one you are trying to recover files from. Saving to the same drive substantially lowers your chances of recovery.”
- A drive icon will appear, which once you double click will give you the option to open the files as you would do before they were lost. Drag them to another location, such as your desktop or a folder on your Mac.
- Open the files to ensure they have been recovered properly and safely eject the external drive.
Disk Drill does have other ways to recover lost files but assuming there aren’t complications, this method is the most effective. Disk Drill Pro recovery app is available from Setapp, along with dozens of Mac apps that will make your life easier. Never have to worry about a crashed or corrupted external drive again.
A few more tips on getting your files back
- Macs and third-party apps that look after Macs, such as Disk Drill and iStat Menus come with a S.M.A.R.T. (also known as Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) status monitor. If a SMART check reports errors, then it could mean the hard drive is at risk of failing completely. Within Disk Utility and Disk Drill, there are several solutions for this: Repair Disk Permissions and Repair Disk. If neither work, it’s recommended that you backup all of the data from the disk, erase, then run a SMART check again. The external hard drive should show up as Verified.
- Partitions can get lost within hard drives, temporarily hiding all of the information contained within. Disk Drill can help to identify and restore this information.
- Within Disk Drill, you can restore data when a hard drive is damaged or add formatting, which is also something Disk Utility can help with.
- CleanMyMac, another useful app available from Setapp, can help you identify external hard drive errors and repair them. It is an essential tool worth trying when you’re having external hard drive difficulties.
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Alternative ways to recover data from an external hard drive
Reset the System Management Controller (SMC) if your Mac shuts down when you plug in an external hard drive. Then use a different port to connect the external hard drive. If you’ve got a battery that you can’t remove:
- Shut down and unplug the power adapter
- Press Shift-Control-Option and the power button at the same time. Do this for 10 seconds
- Release all keys
- Plug the power adapter back in and switch your Mac back on
For Macs with removable batteries, you need to switch them off, remove the battery, then press and hold the power button for 5 seconds. After that, put the battery back in, plug in the power adapter and switch the power on again.
What’s your file format? One reason your Mac isn’t recognizing the hard drive is the file format. Windows uses NTFS file formats, while Macs, up until the introduction of Sierra, have used HFS+. Now, Apple has introduced the Apple File System (APFS) for newer operating systems. It is possible to format a hard drive so it can be read on Mac and Windows computers, providing you format using exFAT. However, if you’re having problems accessing the files and the issue is due to formatting, you will need to connect it to a device it can be read on, and then format the files correctly for the computer you are going to use it on next.
How to make Ext2/Ext3 drives readable on Mac
The common issue is Ext2- and Ext3-formatted drives are not readable on macOS. There are two ways to access such external drives on your Mac – via Linux OS or FUSE system. The easiest would be installing Linux to a secondary drive or virtual machine.
If you go with Linux installation, dual boot your Mac with Linux on another drive and use FAT32 as a transfer intermediary. If you don’t have a drive to install Linux to, use virtual machine as an interface for it. Transferring can be done the same way – with FAT32, or via network.
Another option for reading Ext2/Ext3 disks is mounting disk with Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE). Basically, it works as an extra interface enabling file system access via specially installed modules. Here’s how to mount drives with FUSE:
- Install FUSE for macOS or MacFUSE as well as fuse-ext2 module.
- Use the following Terminal command to enable Disk Utility’s debug menu and see all partitions: defaults write com.apple.DiskUtility DUDebugMenuEnabled 1
- Attach your Ext2/Ext3 drive and locate the device name via Disk Utility.
- In your user account, create a folder to be used as a mount point.
- Use the following Terminal command to mount the drive as read-only: fuse-ext2 /dev/disk2s2 /Volumes/mountpoint
- For write support, use the command: fuse-ext2 -o force /dev/disk2s2 /Volumes/mountpoint
And that’s not the only case where Terminal helps you access external drive.
Employ the handy all-powerful Terminal, which always comes forward with solutions for difficult problems. Especially if System Information does recognize the USB or hard drive, but continues to hide it from you, disconnect the drive and try to find it using the Terminal, which you can find in Applications > Utilities.
- Once in the Terminal, type in the command diskutil list
- A list with information about volumes and drives should appear
- Look for a section labelled /dev/disk_ (external, physical)
- Make a note of the whole line after the word disk
- Now put the following command into the Terminal diskutil info disk followed by the number or digits assigned to that disk
- Now you should see detailed information about the drive, therefore confirming that your Mac can and does recognize it
- Eject using the Terminal by entering the command diskutil eject disk followed by the number or digits assigned to that disk
- Physically remove the disk from you Mac
- Plug it back in and your Mac should recognize it
Console is also reliable when it comes to solving tricky problems, although it isn’t always that easy to use. You can find Console under Applications > Utilities > Console. Console shows if an external drive or any error is detected under the Errors and Faults tab. If no errors show up, then the problem is not caused by the device.
To sum up, there are lots of potential solutions for a Mac not reading an external hard drive. If we were to pick one, Disk Drill seems to be the most well-rounded, offering plenty of customizations and power in an easy-to-use interface. Disk Drill Pro recovery app is available via Setapp, along with 150+ Mac apps that strive to make your life much much easier. At the very least, you’ll never have to worry about a crashed or corrupted external drive ever again.
External Ram For Macbook Pro
Meantime, prepare for all the awesome things you can do with Setapp.Read on
For those who chose a MacBook over an ordinary laptop must be short for some storage space, right? Well, upgrading storage space through apple is as costly as purchasing a new laptop. In this case, an external hard drive is less expensive and beneficial for storage requirements.
You can switch your external hard drive from a Mac to a pc which makes data transfer for two different OS easier. Furthermore, external hard disks are less likely to get corrupted and are portable in nature.
Macbooks generally have SSDs which are capable of loading a program quickly but more likely to low on storage.
Furthermore, SSDs are quite costly and upgrading an SSD on a Macbook is definitely costlier than you could even imagine. An external hard drive is best for storing data such as photos, videos, movies, rendered projects and more.
- 1 10 Best External Hard Drives for MacBook in 2020
- 1.3 3. Seagate Backup Plus Slim (2 TB)
- 1.4 4. Western Digital My Book (8 TB)
- 1.5 5. Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt
- 1.6 6. G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 (4TB)
- 1.7 7. Adata SD700 External SSD
- 1.8 8. LaCie Rugged USB-C
- 1.9 9. Samsung X5 (1TB)
- 1.10 10. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive
- 2 What things to consider while buying External Hard Drive For Mac?
- 3 External Hard Drive Vs SSD: Which one is good for MacBook Pro?
10 Best External Hard Drives for MacBook in 2020
Although choosing an external hard drive is a complicated process but we have made a list of 10 best external hard drives for Mac that you should consider before your final decision.
1. Samsung Portable SSD T5
Starting off Samsung Portable SSD T5 which is an outstanding storage device, it can reach up to a speed of 550 MB per second for data transfer which is amazing. You can directly plug it into a USB-C port or USB-A port.
It contains no moving parts therefore chances of getting damaged due to mishandling are less. Even though SSD is costlier than a hard drive, the speed it offers is commendable. You will notice a significant boost in the overall performance while doing stuff that requires you to load large files and programs.
Overall, the SSD is fantastic but only if you can spare a few more bucks than your actual budget. You can get the SSD ranging from 250 GB to 2 TB from Amazon with some additional discounts.
2. Western Digital My Passport 4TB external hard drive
Western Digital My Passport 4TB external hard drive is the newest generation of external hard disks and is available in capacities from 1 TB to up to 4 TB. It offers cloud storage and 256-AES encryption alongside WD’s software for backups.
The data transfer speeds won’t disappoint you and the drive offers speed similar to what an SSD provides. If you are looking for a drive with good data transfer rate and maximum storage, consider Western Digital My Passport 4TB as a choice.
3. Seagate Backup Plus Slim (2 TB)
If you are looking for a reliable, portable, and affordable hard disk, Seagate backup plus slim is the thing you should have a look at. It supports Windows and Mac both and perfect for storing your essential data right away.
With the Seagate dashboard backup system, you can schedule backups and never lose your important files anymore. Backup automation can be set for daily, monthly, weekly or your desired time-frequency.
Alongside, Seagate also provides a two-month membership for adobe creative cloud photography plan and a one-year subscription to Mylio create to manage your photo library.
- Affordable price
- Metal body
- Supports USB 3.0
- Comes with an automation backup software
- Doesn’t support USB 3.0 cables
4. Western Digital My Book (8 TB)
This Hard disk is probably for creators and organizations that require a lot of storage for various purposes. Faster data transmission rate will let you transfer data in the meantime, all thanks to USB 3.0 support.
It also offers 256 AES encryption for securing your data and makes sure your personal data is secured in the storage device. Even though it meets the requirements of a regular user, the only thing where Western Digital My Book (8 TB) lacks is portability.
Therefore, if you are looking for a hard disk for work purposes and if portability is not an issue, Western Digital My Book (8 TB) is definitely the right choice.
- High storage
- Data encryption
- Compatible with the time machine
- Requires power source to work
- Not portable
5. Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt
Buffalo MiniStation thunderbolt offers data transmission at a speed of twice of what USB 3.0 offers. You can enjoy this feature if your device has a thunderbolt port. Another good thing about Buffalo MiniStation thunderbolt is its price. It is affordable and portable.
- Also Check: 10 Best Cooling Pads For MacBook Pro Reviewed
However, it is a hard drive, not a solid-state, therefore, the data transmission will definitely be high but the overall performance of your pc will remain unchanged. Lastly, if you don’t have a thunderbolt port in your pc, you can use the traditional USB 3.0 port.
- USB 3.0 port
- Formatted for Mac
- Not a Solid State drive
6. G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 (4TB)
With the new products, Apple is on its way to completely shift to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports but there are still some people who are using old hardware and for them, G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 (4TB) is going to work like a charm.
The body of the HDD is made up of metal which makes it durable and strong against accidents such as dropping off the drive on the floor or whatnot. It runs at a speed of 7200 RPM and can transfer data at a rate of 195 MB/s which is efficient for transferring music, videos and software.
- Metallic body for durability
- High data transmission rate
- USB 3.0
- Should be reformatted for Windows OS
External Memory For Mac
7. Adata SD700 External SSD
Adata SD700 is an affordable External SSD which is IP68 rated which certainly makes it a water-resistant storage device. The overall performance of this SSD is commendable and as per our research, Adata SD700 External SSD is the only SSD with an IP68 rating.
You can expect faster transfer rates and better booting speed if you are planning to install an OS on the SSD. Don’t worry about the storage space as it is available in 1 TB capacity also. The maximum read and write speed is up to 440 MB/S, all thanks to the USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface.
- Lightweight and portable
- Shock resistant
- Supports Android, Mac, and Windows
- 3 years of Warranty
- Mac users must format it to FAT32 to use this product
8. LaCie Rugged USB-C
Lacie rugged USB-C hard disk can be distinguished easily because of its unique rubber casing that makes sure your hard drive doesn’t get damaged when it drops from up to 1.3 m height. It can withstand rain, dust and can even survive 1-ton pressure. This is certainly the best choice for content creators.
Alongside hard disk, you will also get access to a one-month subscription to Adobe creative cloud all apps plan. The company also provides 3 years of warranty for the device and will also help you to restore the data if lost.
In terms of speed, Lacie rugged USB-C hard disk is not very fast as it provides only 120 MB/s which is comparatively lesser than the HDDs mentioned in this listicle. However, there are various variants available for this hard disk on Amazon.
- Resistant to water
- Lesser data transmission speed
9. Samsung X5 (1TB)
Samsung never disappoints with its amazing hardware capabilities. With Samsung X5, you can transfer data at a rate of 2,300 MB/s which is the fastest speed an SSD can provide you. The build quality is super amazing as it is made up of metal, making it stronger than storage disks that are made up of plastic bodies.
The shock-resistant capability can save up your drive from a fall of 2 meters. Alongside this, it comes with Thunderbolt 3 technology that is ideal for faster data transfer of up to 40 GB per second which is unbelievable. You can take full advantage of this SSD on your MacBook or Macbook pro without having to format anything.
- High data transmission rate
- Supports thunderbolt 3
- Shock-resistant up to 2 meters
- Heats up really quick
- Comparatively expensive than the other disks
10. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive
In terms of flexibility, Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive is really good as it supports both Mac and windows out of the box. The disk doesn’t get damaged due to dust and water which is again a positive point.
It encrypts the user data at 256 bit AES security which additionally makes everything on the drive, secure. Overall, it is a great drive for Mac owners as well as windows owners too.
- Secure for handling user data
- Protects from water and dust
- Low-speed data transfer
What things to consider while buying External Hard Drive For Mac?
So those were some of the best external hard disk drive solutions for Mac. However, you must be confused about which external HDD to choose. But not to worry, let me just point some of the key factors that you need to consider while buying an external hard drive:
One of the first and the most important thing that you need to consider is the storage space of your external HDD. As you already know that Macbook does not come with a huge space. Hence, you better choose something which offers you enough space to store all your files.
For many users, 1 TB of space should be good enough. But if you need to store a huge number of files and save them for a longer period of time, then getting 2TB of HDD would be an ideal choice.
Apart from 1TB and 2TB of storage options, you can also consider getting huge storage options like 4TB. But for a day to day work, 4TB of HDD does not help much. Also, they are quite expensive.
2. Transfer speed
After the storing capacity, transfer speed is the second most important thing that you have to consider. You don’t want to get an external hard disk drive for Mac, which takes too long to copy files. Instead, you need something that can get the job done as quickly as possible.
So the first thing that you must do is avoid USB 2.0 powered external HDD. As they are outdated and not fast enough. Instead, you should get an external HDD with USB 3.0, 3.1 Gen 1 or USB 3.2 Gen 1. All of these are capable of offering an exceptional transfer speed. On the other hand, I would like to recoomend you to buy the best external SSD for Mac that offers good transfer speed.
The next thing you need to check its compatibility. External HDD formatted for Windows 10 may have connectivity issues with Mac OS and vise versa. So since you are using a Mac powered machine, I would recommend you to get an external HDD with Mac OS compatibility.
Although there is no need to focus on the compatibility part way too much. Since you can always format your external HDD using a Windows Computer with exFat Format. So you can easily use the HDD with your Macbook. But yes, if you get a pre compatible external hard disk drive then it saves you from extra work and headaches that you have to face.
If you are someone who takes security really seriously, then you must look for security features. Most of the manufacturers do ship security software and backup software. So you can easily encrypt your drive or take a backup of it. Even, if you don’t consider encryption feature, backup feature is something that you must and should consider.
Even to make sure your HDD stays safe, they use strong casing from physical damage. So you can consider getting such external hard disk drives that save you from every side.
External Hard Drive Vs SSD: Which one is good for MacBook Pro?
Whenever it comes to a primary storage solution for computers, HDD and SSD’s are the only solutions we have. However, in the last couple of years, the usage of HDD has dropped drastically, and people are not moving to SSD’s for better performance.
But there are quite a lot of users who are still unaware of the difference between a hard disk drive and a solid state drive or SSD.
However, not to worry, let me just draw a quick difference between both and help you to understand better.
1. Storage Capacity
HDD’s are a great option if you want something for storage. HDD’s are available in a wide range of storage capacities like from 500GB to 12 TB. Even, for enterprise uses, you will find a large capacity of HDDs.
SSDs are also available with large capacities. However, when it comes to the costing of an SSD and an HDD, SSDs are quite expensive. Hence, if your main goal is to store huge amount of data, HDD is an ideal choice.
Whenever it comes to speed, SSDs are a better option. Since a hard disk drive uses a round plate with a layer of magnetic material. And the data is stored on this magnetic layer only. So the disk spins and the magnetic head is used for reading and writing data.
Also, the speed that the disk spins is measured in RPM. And on an average, an HDD has about 5,400 RPM, and it will have a read/write speeds of around 100 MB/s.
However, when it comes to SSD’s, there are no moving parts. As a result, it offers you a much faster data transfer rate. On average, it offers you around 550 MB/s and 520 MB/s of data transfer rate.
3. Reliability & Durability
There are quite a lot of factors that determine the lifespan of drivers. However, you should know that an SSD can sustain a limited number of write cycles compared to HDD which has no read/write limits.
But you should know that SSD has a write cycle limit between 3000 and 10,000 which is a high number. So it would not be a problem for you.
Also, SSD’s are lesser affected by any sort of damages compared to HDD. Since there are no moving parts in SSD, they tend to survive more. While HDD’s might stop working if it encounters any physical damage.
Finally, let’s talk about pricing. Well, if you look at the cost of both HDD and SSD, you would happily pick up an HDD. Why? Because SSD’s are expensive. When you choose an HDD, you will get a large amount of capacity for a lesser price. But on the other hand, if you choose an SSD, it would cost you 3-5x of an HDD price.
In the end, the conclusion is HDD’s are a better option when it comes to storing data. Of course, SSD’s are faster and more reliable. But they do come with a high price. But on the other hand, if you take care of your HDD in a good manner, it will offer you great performance for years.
Wrapping it up:
So, these were the 10 best external hard drives for Macbook Air and Pro. Every disk mentioned in this article has its own pros and cons, we have tried our best to list out the good and bad in every product. For Mac users, external SSD can be really helpful for storing content and transferring it to a different place.