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About the Lost and Found directory System
My Unix experience prior to OS X is almost entirely Solaris. The root level of any Solaris partition has a directory named lost+found that you can't delete (or use!) that's "always" empty. I ignored it until recently. My boss' workstation wouldn't boot two months ago, and lost+found was FULL. It turns out, as a gross simplification, that that's where files go if the hard drive is corrupted where that file is stored.

My Pismo running 10.2 has been very cranky lately, crashing a lot. I did some research and decided that the hard drive was corrupt. Before I ordered a replacement, I took a look around my backed-up files. Lo and behold, the root level had a folder named Lost and Found with many files! Most of those files could be associated with recent crashes. That clinched my diagnosis (and order).

I would like to pass on this information that I have learned twice in the past two months: if there's a Lost and Found folder (or a lost+found directory with files in it), go buy a replacement hard drive!

For more information, I learned about lost+found at's man on fsck and product documentation. May you never need to know this ... and may your search find this hint otherwise.

[robg adds: This is also covered in OS X's fsck man page. I've never seen one on my machines; if I ever do, I'll (a) thank my recent backups for saving my data, (b) try DiskWarrior to see if the drive can be repaired, and (c) probably go buy a new drive!]
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About the Lost and Found directory
Authored by: daybrother on Aug 02, '04 12:12:24PM
I have run across these folders before on severely corrupted disks but a reformat and reinstall always worked fine. I admit to having not read the documentation but I don't think their appearance on the scene means your HD is physically toast (if that is what you imply). The first time I saw them they were created after I ran a repair with DW of all things and I correctly assumed that I should forget about repair and go ahead and reinstall. This was on a Beige with a brand new drive that became corrupted via bad ram after an XPF install of Panther. Just my experience.

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About the Lost and Found directory
Authored by: leenoble_uk on Aug 02, '04 12:53:41PM

Would it not be a good idea to have some kind of task, preferably set to run on boot or login which would do something of the ilk:
if(folder_exists("/Lost and Found"))
display_dialog("Get the hell out of here, she's gonna blow")

BTW. This script is in no particular language. I'm sure I could write an Applescript to do this but I'm too busy at the moment so some kind person may want to post one here.

So, I said ... well, I can't actually remember exactly what I said. But it was one of the most enormously cruel and frighteningly witty put downs ever.

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About the Lost and Found directory
Authored by: LC on Aug 02, '04 01:55:43PM

It's not necessarily that the filesystem was corrupted -- rather that an omission
was found in the directory information (sometimes due to force-quit applications,
power outages, etc.) and the system saved those inodes for you
(in lost+found, since the original directory location was no longer known
for sure). Having items saved in lost+found doesn't necessarily mean
that your disk is bad. There are other components in the system (both
software and hardware, e.g. power supplies, disk controller etc.) that
are potential culprits. Having journalling active in the mount options
does tend to reduce the possibility of orphaned inodes; Larry.

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About the Lost and Found directory
Authored by: Gwyrrdin on Aug 02, '04 03:34:33PM

mostly true...but please do a "ls -la" first and check the modification dates before acting to early.
I have a Lost+Found in my root, but hey...its from november 2003 when I installed panther and had to force shutdown. (yes..I'm still working on my first panther installation :)

It could be an indication that your HD is failing...but it could also be that you have scr*wed up your system.

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lost+found != corrupted disk!
Authored by: a1291762 on Aug 02, '04 08:53:08PM

Having files in the lost+found directory does not mean you have a corrupted hard disk. It means that the *filesystem* was corrupted. I've seen really bad filesystem corruption caused by sharing NFS and having a client hang. The hard disk was and still is fine.

Just because Mac OS X has journalling does not mean you won't have "lost" files. These will end up in the lost+found directory. DiskWarrior and the like will also find these files.

Sure, a physically damaged drive will get filesystem corruption but a corrupt filesystem does not mean you have a damaged drive.

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About the Lost and Found directory
Authored by: sprale on Aug 25, '09 01:33:27PM

I recently used iPartition to remove a third partition and resize the second to consume that free space. Upon reboot I had the 'lost+found' folder at the root. It was about 2.4Gb, some of the files appear to be parts of the iWeb templates.

I was unable to repair permissions, in addition to many other application issues, from internal or external OS.

I copied the '' from the folder '/Library/Receipts/' on a similar system that was functioning properly. It seems to have done the trick. Disk Utility can now repair permissions and verify disks again.

13" 2.4GHz Poly MacBook, Late 2006, 10.5.8

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