SOLVED: “Error: Dsk utility can’t repair this disk. backup as many of your files as possible”

My laptop has been having issues going to sleep when I close the clamshell.  Hours of research has shown that this is a known problem with OSX and has even been deemed a “feature”.  Feature or not, in my attempts to get the laptop to go to sleep, I noticed that when it falls asleep and then wakes back up, it forcefully disconnects my connected drives.  By the time I realized it, it was too late and the partitions wouldn’t mount.  My jaw dropped as I realized six terabytes of data had just been…. l.o.s.t….. s…i…x……. terabytes!

My focus now went from the lack of going to sleep issue to restoring my lost data.  Googling lead to various applications such as DiskWarrior and SpinRite ( Windows only.. ).  I tried so many things but nothing seemed to get it working.

Out of my frustration, I decided to hit repair ( which I had done before, to no avail ).  It finished and failed, so I did it again… and again… and again.. ( I was determined to make Disk Utility fix the problem )…. and again.. and again.. and…. what???? SUCCESS??!?!?!?!?!! I mounted the partition… looked all around, it’s all there!

I thought “this could be a fluke.”  As any software engineer knows, get it to happen twice or it didn’t happen at all — so I moved onto my second “damaged” drive.  Several “repairs” later, another success!

I’m not sure if this will always work but out of two attempts, it worked 100% of the time.  I hope this helps someone out there!  Losing data is one of my worst nightmares.  So many photos, videos, backups of so many things.  Sheesh — the shear thought of it gives me the heebee jeebees!

115 thoughts on “SOLVED: “Error: Dsk utility can’t repair this disk. backup as many of your files as possible”

  1. Worked for me too! I can’t believe it really. Without your suggestion I *never* would have tried it. Ever!

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  2. It worked in the end for me too! Thanks a bunch for the suggestion!

    I had already given up after two tries, but then google got me here. So I persevered and after about 15 tries it worked.

  3. Worked! You are AMAZING! Thank you so much. I literally was on the break of tears.
    I’m gonna double back-up it all right now.

  4. hi. do you have any suggestions for an external that won’t reformat completely? my goal is reformatting it to MS-DOS(FAT) for Windows and Mac compatibility but i keep getting errors. i’ve tried reformatting it to its original Mac OS Extended (Journaled) but after it reformats and i try to Verify Disk, it says it can’t be verified and needs to be repaired. and when i try to repair it: “Error: disk utility can’t repair this disk. Backup…”. I’ve already lost 1TB worth of movies, comic books, tv shows, videos. Now all i want is to have an external that will actually work. Its so frustrating. any help would be appreciated. Thanks. I have a Macbook pro running Mavericks 10.9.3 and my hd is a 1TB Toshiba External USB 3.0 Media

  5. This really works!
    My first repair said that “Disk Utility can’t repair this disk..” and I still can’t mount the drive. After reading this, I’ve tried the Repair Disk this again and it worked.
    Thank you thank you!!

  6. Sir you deserve a medal!! It was working this morning and I plug it in again when I get home and it didn’t work. It is working now thanks to you sir!! Thanks!!

  7. wow, me too! I’m amazed that this works, I was ready to abandon repair and move on to more complex options… thank you!

  8. Hey, thanks so much for this. It totally worked for me. Took about half a dozen tries but my failed WD drive suddenly showed up and I was able to get everything off.

    1. HELP ME. I have a WD Passport 1 TB of data from my entire college career as an artist on this drive. If you have any knowledge on how to get this info back, please email me. THANKS.

  9. I’m using Mavericks .. And that didn’t work for me 🙁 … Should I format the HD ? Help me please. Because I can’t use my macbook 🙁

  10. I am trying this to no avail so far. Could it be that it’s different for the system disk or was yours a system disk?

  11. wow this guy’s not kidding. I just tried this, and it works!!!
    Who woulda thought!!!

    I’m on Macbook Air late 2011, 11 inch, Mavericks 10.9.4

    I clicked on “Repair Disk” 7 times and along the way it was saying this:

    “Verify and Repair volume “SecondDrive”
    Checking file system
    Volume repair complete.
    Updating boot support partitions for the volume as required.
    Error: Disk Utility can’t repair this disk.
    Back up as many of your files as possible, reformat the disk, and restore your backed-up files.”

    (… that text above repeated 7 times)

    the 8th time I did it, it said this:

    “Verify and Repair volume “SecondDrive”Volume repair complete.
    Updating boot support partitions for the volume as required.
    Error: Live file system repair is not supported.”

    which is different, and soon enough, my computer was reading the drive again :):):)

    … I am INCREDIBLY SHOCKED by how such an almost-insane method of repeating-without-any-different-results would actually do something.

    Mr. Girgis you are the MAN!

  12. Also worked for me! Took a lot of repetitions – but it was worth it. Thanks very much for being persistent and writing about it!

  13. Thank the lord that I found your page, after 4 goes it worked for me too! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  14. WOWWW WOWWW MAN, it worked also for me!!! at the 4th try it worked! it took almost an hour, but i got the green light!!!! B-)

  15. I hope this works for me but I am not too hopeful. I also hope this wasnt some sort of hoax please put on a comment to prove my scepticism wrong.

  16. Thank you so much… worked for me as well. Pretty much exactly the same boat. I had tried several stubborn times as well before finding your post. Would have given up if it wasn’t for this. Tried a few more times and BAM!

  17. 🙂 oh wow, i am unbelievably happy, when i thought i’d tried everything and all had been lost. Who would have thought percistance would work haha Thank you so much, i had the exact same problem, i was even going to resort to making Mac pay for their mistake, and it actually worked. PERFECT!!!!!!!

  18. Any idea how many repairs it took to make it work again? I’m on the 4th repair and it still doesn’t work. Although I remember doing this some time ago and it worked on the second or third attempt.

    1. It was completely random for every disk this happened to. I actually ended up writing a bash loop to re-run the repair. I would check up on the repair every few minutes to see if it was successful. Something along the lines of (as root):

      for i in `seq 1 1000`;
      diskutil repairDisk /dev/disk3;

      Note: Make sure you get the diskutil command right before running it in a loop!

      1. I have 3 TB of photos, music and video on an external HD and am worried that if I run through the terminal the command to repair the disk I’ll lose it all. Am I safe to run this repair?

  19. I’ve spent hours and hours trying to solve the issue (which I think is caused by the device being disconnected in an open state) – and was ready to give up. I’m now running my regular backup. All is well.

  20. I have actually reformatted my external 4TB Time Machine HD twice. Read your post, triend it a second time and it worked. Thank you!

  21. totally worked on fourth go for me. first three errored out within a few minutes. the one that worked took about 15 minutes for a 1.5tb external drive. lovely, thanks!

  22. Five attempts for me did the trick. I’m glad I found this site–I wouldn’t have known what to do otherwise. It’s amazing the trouble unplugging a HD from a sleeping computer without “ejecting” it first can cause.

  23. Okay, so I literally did this about 20+ times and I didn’t think it was going to work, but IT DID! Ohmygosh! Thank you so much! you saved me from the heartache of losing all my files!

  24. Just wanted to add that while the number of attempts on “Repair Disk” may vary randomly from drive to drive, I’ve now gone through this same process with the same drive three times–loose USB cable–and each time it required exactly 5 attempts. So each drive may have some inbuilt number of attempts needed to resurrect it.

  25. I was starting to lose faith by about the 20th time…..but the 24th time it actually fixed it? Really bizarre. Thanks for the strange tip.

  26. I can’t believe this! I’ve been trying several times to verify and to repair an unmountable partition of my external HD which I use for my time time machine back ups, using disk utility as well as disk warrior, and all without success. I was actually about to give up when I stumbled across this post here. After 8 times of Repair Disk in a row in Disk Utility it finally did the trick. The partition seems to be ok now and is mounted 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!!

  27. Will this work for a Macbook pro? As I was on mine then turned it off and on and disk utility just shows up with l my stuff gone, so yer will trying this work also u rekon?

  28. Just awesome dude…
    I was so much freaked out on some twice-thrice failure of recovery of my 2 TB data..
    I too tried on and on and on and boooomm!!!
    It worked 🙂
    Lesson learnt, never give up 😀 😀

  29. Works for me too!
    Clicked on repair repeatedly even though I got the same error message. Finally it gave the error again but the partition was mounted. I clicked on repair once more to get the partition repaired properly.

  30. Looks like when a repair pass fails, OS X runs fsck_hfs automatically in the background without telling you.

    If you wait until it disappears from Activity Monitor and it completes ok – check /var/log/fsck_hfs in Console – you should have a working drive.

    I don’t think you need to keep repairing over and over for the magic to work.

  31. Worked for me too! Thank you so much. I was so surprised. Somewhere between 7 and 10 tries it worked!

  32. Thanks for sharing all, would have never thought of running an fsck multiple times in a row would make a diff… just regained acces to a 2TB volume!!

    just a note that *might* help others, in /var/log/fsck_hfs.log i noticed (replacing disk numbers here with N):

    /dev/rdiskNs2: Invalid content in journal
    /dev/rdiskNs2: ** Checking Journaled HFS Plus volume.

    After running repair about 10x, i turned off journaling for this volume with:

    /System/Library/Filesystems/hfs.fs/hfs.util -N /dev/diskNs2

    and ran a final repair:

    /dev/rdisk2s2: ** Rechecking volume.
    /dev/rdisk2s2: ** Checking non-journaled HFS Plus Volume.
    /dev/rdisk2s2: ** The volume Tank was repaired successfully.

    – The disk was now mounted again :]
    – Enabled journal again:

    /System/Library/Filesystems/hfs.fs/hfs.util -J

  33. 4th time worked! Took about 15 minutes of praying and talking to the hard drive while it worked it’s magic but it did it!
    Thank you so much.

  34. there was actually some progress on the 7th attempt and looked like it just may work. But in the end it said disk utility could not repair the drive. I tried it again after the message and it didn’t even get past the first line. 🙁 now back to the grey screen of death. will try a few more times maybe and leave a reply with the results. DARN! almost had it.

  35. THIS IS SO CRAZY THAT IT WORKED! I only tried it 3 times. I was ready to go through all the complicated tasks I found online… but this post was actually a God-given miracle. Thanks soooo much!!!

  36. Wow! Tried this literally about 30 times over a few days with no luck. 31st time….(using a different mac) – SUCCESS!

  37. ThanX for sharing this. It didn’t work in my case 🙁
    I have tried it 42times… but in the End the App “Data Rescue 4” helped me to save most of the data… good luck to everyone having this problem.

  38. Well. it does mount but the transfer is very very slow. I will need 7 months 24/7 of constant copy to back up my 2To to the new 4To. My issue is I have one of those Western Digital USB powered (no external power supply) and one day, my kids switched off the iMac. Well it was not the first time BUT it f*% it up … It was also after I did a massive transfer of almost 1To to it in preparation to back it up so in effect, I only had 100go left of free space. And I think it might also be why I have had this issue. I had power failure or kids rebooting the Imac before without any issues with the external drive. Anyway. The point is IT DOES mount again, yes. But it is near unusable due to the low speed.

    My other mistake I think was to make it compatible with MAC and Windows … and making a bad choice in formatting it in FAT32, bad move … Should have done exFAT but here we go.

    So I can use Terminal, DOS, I have used DiskWarrior, disk Utility, you name it I tried it.

    What I would like to do is to have speed back so I can quickly copy all the data safely somewhere preferably in command line.

    I am a bit scared of trying to nuke the Boot record / MBR and to be honest the HDrive is not seen under Windows, only under OSX.

    I could try Ubuntu but I ll have to install it or run it from a USB key … cannot be bothered (for now).

    So if ANY of you have issue with speed of transfer and have managed to fix that. Please please do kindly let me know how u did it.

  39. Worked for me after about 22 tries. I left it alone after the last one failed, and when I looked at my Macbook Pro the next day, the drive was there again. Thanks so much for the post! Saved me a lot of frustration and money. ?

  40. Hey man it also worked to me. Thank you very much for your help. I would like to add some new information. After every trial of repairing we should try to mount the external disk by just right clicking on in, listed on the left of the disk utility.

    Thanks again.

  41. Same thing happened to my boss’s external disks today, and I hopefully followed your advice as there was nothing more we could do, to save our Monday. And you did save our Monday, you saviour 😀 I suppose it works randomly, but glad it worked!

  42. I think this is the first time I’ve ever commented on an online thread but I felt the need to purely to encourage anyone feeling disheartened to not give up and to continue trying this method – it really DOES WORK! I’m a graphic designer and after my 2TB Samsung external hard drive randomly gave up on me one day after no previous problems I was on the verge of a meltdown as that’s where every single one of my clients’ files were stored. Not an exaggeration to say my business was in jeopardy.

    I took the advice from this post and continued to press “Repair Disk” with little hope as I neared around the 50th attempt but then it finally worked! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  43. I must have tried about 20 times but it did actually work. Back to normal! That’ll teach me to back up my backups…

  44. Worked for me too on 4th attempt.. Thanks! I was almost into tears when I saw the error for the first time.. I am so glad google suggested me your page..

  45. 19 times for me! I was literally having a panic attack!
    I had 2 weddings and 5 sessions of photos to edit for clients!

    I walked away for 15 minutes to cry, tried one more time and it worked! Back up now!

  46. after around 7-8 times it show different result and HD was mount !!! but still not fixed
    I clicked again, it starts fixing HD but after 2 minutes it get back to same result … I’m still trying …

    1. well it was not really mounted ,,, I found that it just mount “recovery HD”… still couldn’t get it fix ,,, i will keep trying 🙁

  47. after around 30-40 repair and HD mounted successfully as external HD and I was able to copy all my important files to this other mac. THANK YOU SO MUCH GOD BLESS YOU

  48. Could someone please tell me this to be true…? That this is for real? All jokes 2 the side….. I’m about to lose my mind! It’s been 2 day’s and my life’s work is in this iMac. I was downloading a few files and noticed it was moving kinda slow for such a short file. I thought well let me shut it down and reboot, maybe I’ll get a better net connection. I did just that! Also with the intention to back up a few files I’ve had for a little while onto my 4th external. I never got that far… I’ve Googled everything and when I seen this and many testimonies, a ray of hope has hit me… I have probably tried it now off and on… at least 30-40 times….. Nothing! Please, if this is a hoax just say so…. my heart can’t take this! I have my Life’s work as a music producer/ photographer……… I don’t have the money it may take to get these files recovered. I’m living on a prayer right now and would truly appreciate some honesty. Sorry…about the rant…. I’m just so desperate and can’t even function hoping for one shot to recover my cherished pieces I’ve work so very hard on and the many years it has take to build up such am arsenal. I put to much trust into something I never thought would fail me… I baby this thing….. If someone has any other advise or suggestions? I’m all for it…. please someone help me!!!!!!!!!

    1. Hey Christopher,

      Don’t lose hope. I’ve been there and I feel your pain. Keep trying. I’ve had to do dozens of attempts day after day until it’s worked for me. I can’t say it’s guaranteed because I don’t know why it works but it’s worked for me. At times it seemed like maybe the drive is too-far-gone but yet, it’s worked (just taken longer than other drives). Good luck, hopefully you get the drive back up and running long enough to back it up!

      1. Thank you… I’m Definitely willing to do what it takes to try and get my Life Back…. I just need one Shot! Haha….. has to be one of the worst feelings ever! I wake up thinking, Go to bed thinking. The tourture.. Appreciate the kind words….

      2. This just happened with no prior warning……smh…. I was just about to back these files I’ve been hoarding back up. My download was slow… I thought my net connection was slow.. happens ALOT!!! Some reason I shut it down grabbed my external, plugged it in, booted up my iMac… And gray screen….. I’m like hmmm…. tried again! Nothing! Again! Still…. Then I started to panic……….Oh Nooooooooooo! Not now…………I was just going to do the right thing…………ahhhhhh…… Still going at it. It’s been 3 day’s. I just need like 3-4 folders…. and I can at least breathe again……..whew……. again thanks for the encouraging word’s. If you have, or anyone have any other suggestions? I’m willing to try………. Man I need this stuff…….. I promise! I’ll never do it again!!!! Haha…. Rally tho……..Brink of Insanity…. Talking 2 my computer like…………….How are you going to do me like this? I chose u! I chose you out of all these other’s! Lol……..”fake laugh” man-0-man……..Please!!!!!!!

  49. Sorry to Blow this up! When u kept trying, did you Verify Disk and Repair? Or did u just keep hitting repair? I’m doing both &don’t know if it’s necessary to keep verifying the Disk as well? Thank u Much In Advance! God Bless!

  50. hi Guys, I’ve been trying to repair my 3TB Seagate external HD and have repeated the “Repair” steps over 30 times, and also tried rebooting my Mac Air every now and then.

    As part of the error message I get after each Repair command, it says in RED “The Volume 3TB could not be verified completely”…..

    Is that what you all seem to be getting? or is there something particularly different in my case?

  51. I keep getting the error “You can still open or copy files on the disk, but you can’t save changes to files on the disk. Back up the disk and reformat it as soon as you can.”

    I am sorry but can someone explain the steps they are taking.. I am so confused. Are you formatting the disk first? If so, what format? and if you are formatting it.. and what button is everyone pressing after? I see First Aid, Erase, Restore, Unmount & info. If someone can list out the steps.. that would be great!! Thank you so much!

    1. Hey Matthew — when you get a message like that, it’s best to backup whatever is on that drive as it may be failing. You’re lucky to get the opportunity to do so. You should be able to try to repair the disk — which could cause issues if there is damage to the disk so I’d backup everything before trying to repair the disk.

  52. I am having the same issue, and I am glad that this has been the solution for many people, but I can only read the comments and not see the instructions to the fix. Could anyone respond to this comment with the instructions, please? Thank you in advance. I have a project to turn in and this is stopping me big time 🙁

  53. Could someone please tell me what the original instructions were? I can see comment after comment saying it worked as well as the title that the problem was solved, but I can’t find the post with the instruction. Thank you.

      1. Thank you! I did keep trying as you suggested,. Eventually I hooked it up to my older mac with an older os. It ran all night and gave me the error message. However, when I plugged it back in to my newer Mac (with El Capitan) it mounted up right away! I was able to get all of my information off of the drive! Thank you for the suggestions! It worked for me!

  54. Generally how many attempts does it take? I tried 15 times already. No luck yet.. Does anyone have any other option if this does not work?

  55. Ok I read this thinking it was BS, but I thought given the number of people who said it worked, I’d give it a try. And yep – it worked for me too. After only 3 tries. I didn’t have to restart anything. I am so happy to get this drive back as it has my whole music and photographic library on it. Thanks for posting this!

  56. 3 attempts here and finally it worked. It (Samsung M3 1TB) wasn’t even showing up in Disk Utility, so I ran the Verify in Paragon NTFS for Mac and Repaired 3 times. 3rd time it went through to ‘Checking file system hierarchy’ . After that it hung on that step for a verrrrrrrry loooooong time (and I could still hear and feel the drive working), it… failed…., so I ran it again. Stuck on ‘Checking file system hierarchy’ again…. Ran again. And Again. And one more time and IT WORKED!!! Thank you! And if you found this, don’t give up! 🙂

  57. I tried 20+ times with no luck, and then looked further.

    The number of retries *may* be related to whether the OS can recognize the drive as writeable. In this case, the instructions here may be helpful:

    In particular, I edited /etc/fstab.hd as recommended in that article, and *then* found that disk utility and fsck were able to make progress.

    My current best guess is that the number of retries is related to some rebuilding some setting allowing the drive to be written to, and until then, the process fails without any clear notification.

  58. Thanks Buddy ! I had problem repairing my Toshiba external harddisk with Disk Utility. After reading this your suggestion and many positive messages above and clicking about 25- 30 times Verify and Repair ( takes 2-3 hours , keep your MAC connected with power cable) finally I got access to my Toshiba HD again. Unbeliveable how such a solution works, but it did for me. Thanks a lot.

  59. Thanks Buddy ! I had problem repairing my Toshiba external hard disk with Disk Utility. After reading this your suggestion and many positive messages above and clicking about 25- 30 times Verify and Repair ( takes 2-3 hours , keep your MAC connected with power cable) finally I got access to my Toshiba HD again. Unbelievable how such a solution works, but it did for me. Thanks a lot.

  60. OMG thank you! Took about an hour and around 20 tries but it finally worked. I had my external in the macbook and went to plug in a new external that I had just bought to make a second back up. When I plugged in the second external the company gave a weird error and automatically forced a reboot. I freaked out and unplugged both. And from then on it wouldn’t work. When I pugged it in I would hear it spinning but No blue light and wouldn’t mount. For the next day I tried various things to get it to work. I even took it out of the shell and bought a replaced SATA to usb as it seems that is a common issue. This was the solution that finally worked after 20 tires and an hour of time. During that hour I was reading more about this and some people say you should backup the hard drive before attempting this. Not sure how to do that since you can’t access any files when its not mounting. But I think there are some third party software that can clone the drive. I was going stop trying this an attempt to back up but then it magically worked!

  61. I’m unsure about the exact instructions to follow, and how long they should take.
    Can someone please confirm that what I think here is right (or correct me), and tell me how long I should expect this to take?
    I THINK what you’re all doing here is
    1. Launch Disk Utility
    2. Select problem drive/volume from left-side
    3. Click “First Aid” tab/button
    4. Click “Repair Disk” button.
    5. Repeat #4 until success


  62. Thank you so much, this saved all my work files. It really did work for me! When you have that awful feeling at the bottom of your stomach and think theres no way this could work…just keep pushing repair and eventually it did!

  63. I got that scary message too when I tried to repair my 6TB drive with stuff from the 1990s through today, but I tried it a second time and it worked! Still going to replace the drive though; it’s been acting wonky and It’s about 6 years old (about due for a crash).

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