Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool Pick of the Week
DiskWarrior The macosxhints Rating:
10 of 10
[Score: 10 out of 10]
This Pick is long overdue; I've owned and used various versions of DiskWarrior for a number of years. It's one of those programs that I consider essential, yet it's (hopefully!) seldom used. DiskWarrior is a drive recovery and (to some extent) preventative maintenance tool. You only need it when you have a disk in trouble, but at those times, it can be a lifesaver. DiskWarrior uses a special method to examine a 'crashed' drive, create a new master directory of the disk's contents, and then lets you examine the new directory before writing it to the drive. If all goes well, you wind up with your disk functional again, and all of your data intact.

What finally drove me to select DiskWarrior this week was some odd activity on my G5 yesterday. I was working away when I noticed that my desktop picture changed from a selection of family images to the standard Aqua Blue JPEG. This happened without an error message or a crash of any sort. Finding it somewhat odd, to say the least, I opened the Desktop and Screensavers panel to reactivate my images ... only to find the iPhoto folder missing (I have my iPhoto library stored on a partition on the second SATA drive in my G5). A quick look in the Finder verified that my "videospace" partition had just vanished. Checking in the Terminal, there was definitely nothing mounted in /Volumes. I fired up Apple's Disk Utility, which could see the partition, and ran a Repair on it. After a very short amount of time, it claimed that it (a) had found nothing wrong and (b) had fixed whatever wasn't wrong with the drive. Needless to say, I still couldn't get it to mount.

So then I launched DiskWarrior, which also saw the partition without any troubles. I clicked DW's Rebuild button, and a few minutes later, I had a brand new disk directory to inspect. A quick look showed that everything appeared fine, so I had DW write the new directory back to the source disk. The videospace partition then mounted fine in the Finder, and all was back to normal (and yes, I had a quite recent backup; I might've lost about 8MB of sound files if I hadn't been able to recover the drive). DiskWarrior has also helped with the troublesome G5 / FireWire issues that some users, including myself, have had. I have a FW drive that I use to move large proejct files around, and it's probably died five or six times over the last year or so when moving it between the G5 and another Mac. In all cases, a new directory from DiskWarrior solved the problems and saved everything on the disk.

In its maintenance mode, DW can be set to watch the SMART status (a self-health feature found on most new hard drives) of your drives, and send you an email when it sees an anomoly. This feature lets you work in peace, knowing that if you're drive notices it's about to fail, you'll receive an email about the problem. For the record, though, the SMART status on the failed partition yesterday never even squawked.

DiskWarrior isn't cheap, and it doesn't do a ton of things ... but what it does, it does very well. If your data is important to you, $80 is a small price to pay -- even if you only need to use it once or twice!
    •    
  • Currently 2.55 / 5
  You rated: 3 / 5 (11 votes cast)
 
[112,151 views]  

DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool | 50 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Great app.
Authored by: merlinmann on Oct 11, '04 12:38:48PM

I've long felt there are two kinds of Mac users: DiskWarrior evangelists, and people who will eventually become DiskWarrior evangelists. :) Can't count the number of times it's completely saved my bacon.

---
43folders.com



[ Reply to This | # ]
[Not Necessarily a] Great app
Authored by: m5comp on Oct 12, '04 07:23:20AM

I have mixed feelings about DW, mainly becasue it let me down when I needed *something* to resurrect my suddenly-corrupted HD. After repeated attempts to repair the HD using fsck and Disk Utility, I booted from my DW 3.0.2 CD and began the repair process. About a quarter of the way through, the HD spun down and DW basically quit trying to repair the HD (or do much of anything). After waiting about 20 minutes for something to happen, I rebooted and restarted the repair process with DW. Same roadblock; the HD spun down and DW just sat there. After I got my system back running (had to erase the HD) I wrote Alsoft about this, and they replied that DW would have started back again eventually, if I had waited long enough. How long was I supposed to wait--a week? I haven't used DW since, but I do run fsck every time I start my Mac up (it has caught one problem, which Disk Utility was able to repair).



[ Reply to This | # ]
[Not Necessarily a] Great app
Authored by: Anonymous on Oct 12, '04 10:08:37PM

So you didn't give the program the time it needed, and this is the programmer's fault? Sounds like the old tech response of "PBCAK." (Problem between chair and keyboard.)



[ Reply to This | # ]
[Not Necessarily a] Great app
Authored by: m5comp on Oct 13, '04 04:45:35AM

How much time was I supposed to give it? I waited almost a half hour each time I tried to repair the hard drive. What was I supposed to do, let it sit there overnight? The hard drive had spun down, and DW seemed to be making absolutely no progress whatsoever. I did read a report on (I think) VersionTracker that DW could "choke" if overlapping files was the problem (that is the last error message I got from DW before the HD spun down).



[ Reply to This | # ]
[Not Necessarily a] Great app
Authored by: kupietz on Oct 19, '04 02:13:57PM

So, we have this miracluous app the has saved countless hard drives when no other program could... and you're complaining that it doesn't do it in less than a half hour? :-)

> How long was I supposed to wait--a week?

You said you only gave it 20 minutes. C'mon, there's lengths of time between 20 minutes and 1 week.

I have certainly seen DiskWarrior take longer than that to fix smaller drives than you probably have. In the dark days of OS 9, I know I waited much longer than that for Norton to fix much smaller drives.

>What was I supposed to do, let it sit there overnight?

Yes, that sounds reasonable.

Face it: the problem was you were impatient. You wanted a miracle - which DW can do! - and you wanted it in under 30 minutes. For a diagnostic/repair program, you need to be prepared to wait hours if necessary. Overnight is long but not unreasonable, if your data is valuable to you and nothing else has worked. Several hours, at the very least.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: kms007 on Oct 11, '04 12:39:32PM

I agree with Rob's statement - DiskWarrior has saved me countless hours of frustration. It's a must-have utility for anyone using OS X.

In addition to booting from my DW CD, I've also installed it on both of my OS X boot volumes. This way, if there's something wrong with one volume, I can reboot into the other, and run DW from the newly rebooted volume. It's much faster than booting from the CD. Of course, the CD is nice to have in case both volumes get munged.

-Krishna

---
Creator of "The PC Weenies" Cartoon



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: Cap'n Hector on Oct 11, '04 12:51:33PM

SMART status doesn't do SW errors, only HW, so DW wouldn't report anything.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: Gabroil on Oct 11, '04 04:04:49PM

I was going to post just that. However, I did want to add that the SMART status of the drive can give you a false sense of security. I had a PowerBook hard drive die on me and the SMART tests were indicating everything was ok, even as the drive was physically failing.

You should always backup, because DiskWarrior, while an incredibly reliable took, is helpless when the Drive is having hardware problems.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: ciurana on Oct 11, '04 01:07:54PM

Greetings,

I'm a hardcore UNIX guy who returned to the Macintosh fold recently (I stopped coding for Macs in 1992 or so). Can someone please explain what does Disk Warrior do that fsck doesn't?

A friend of mine had a problem with partitions in his Mac (OS X 10.2/LaCie external disk). He used a variety of tools to try to fix it, without much help. I then ran fsck with some command line options for repair and the partition went back to normal; he hasn't had a problem since. I may be missing something but it seems like the OS X file systems can be dealt with in UNIX terms just fine and without having to spend muchos $$$ in software.

Thanks in advance,

Eugene


---
http://eugeneciurana.com/musings/sushi-eating-HOWTO.html
San Francisco, CA USA



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: boredMDer on Oct 11, '04 01:16:55PM

I'm a UNIX guy as well (well, HP-UX to be exact...), so I know what you mean.

The thing is, most users want to see a nice GUI, pretty widgets that does what they want for them; no need to be 'mucking around' in Terminal.app or such with fsck.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: alani on Oct 11, '04 01:42:35PM

Most users in THIS forum, I'd wager, prefer saving $80 to seeing GUI widgets.

Can you guys describe some of the tricks you would use in FSCK (and feel free to make the obligatory RTFM comment if you must)?



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: ahunter on Oct 11, '04 03:37:17PM

If you want to use fsck, then Disk Utility will do that just fine in a graphical manner. The problem is that Apple's fsck does not fix a bunch of problems that can occur with HFS+ (neither does Norton's Disk Doctor, for that matter).

Anyway, here's my story, that should explain why DiskWarrior is a Good Thing:

I was running qmail and leafnode on 10.2: between them, these two programs create and delete a huge number of tiny files. Pretty soon, I started to see lots of kernel panics: one or two a day - this actually looked a lot like bad RAM to me at first, but it eventually became clear that the problem only ever occured when Mail was looking for new mail. Running fsck as single user listed a bunch of problems that fsck said it had decided not to fix (too much effort or something, I guess).

At this point I bought Norton. Disk Doctor improved things: suddenly, the panics were only coming once a week! Woo, at least the people who were still using Windows 98 weren't laughing at me any more. Actually, half the panics now were caused by Norton itself, which insists on installing a couple of dodgy kernel extensions - however, the rest were still happening.

Norton was generally proving a waste of money. Speed Disk didn't work at all (too many directory entries - hooray!) and that undelete thing was basically proving a crash factory, and even after I had spent an hour removing its various tentacles, once a week, Mail was causing a crash. Hrmph.

At this point I ordered DiskWarrior: rebuilding the entire directory sounded a bit drastic and risky to me, but these kernel panics were starting to annoy me. I was sufficiently impatient that I didn't wait for the DiskWarrior CD to be shipped to me (which took 6 weeks to the UK), but built my own very slow boot CD, and (eventually) ran Disk Warrior from there. The directory fragmentation was something like 75% at this point.

So, reboot, half expecting the disk to be totally dead, aaand... Well, it wasn't totally dead. In fact, it felt a bit snappier than before. You might recall that I mentioned leafnode before. The last thing its fetchnews utility does before finishing is 'fork a child process to update XOVER information', something that before I applied DiskWarrior took around 3 minutes - afterwards, it was instantaneous (this always felt wrong, having run leafnode for years on Linux before).

DiskWarrior had recovered one file, too. Unsurprisingly, this was a half-written email that qmail had been processing when I had had a power failure. Evidently, it lurked somewhere in the file system, randomly surfacing to pull yet another hapless kernel into the murky depths of a panic.

Under 10.2, future power failures seemed to cause similar problems fairly regularly. Now I've got 10.3, they happen less frequently, but DiskWarrior still periodically finds things to fix.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: applemandesign on Oct 11, '04 05:31:58PM

so being a unix god...lol
how do you get to single user mode w/o using the apple+s keys @ startup?
can you get to it from terminal?



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: bryanzak on Oct 11, '04 02:01:37PM

Well, that's like asking what the difference is between KHTML and Gecko.

Sure, both fsck and DiskWarrior do the same thing, but they do it differently. They make different design decision regarding various issues, how aggressive to be, etc.

In my experience, I've had corruption that Disk Utility (which is just a pretty GUI built around fsck) could not fix -- and told me so in nice bold red text. Switch to DiskWarrior and a bit later the drive is once again healthy.

Bryan



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: kupietz on Oct 19, '04 02:18:03PM

Second that. I don't know how or why, but I've had DW fix things after Disk Utility failed.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: Legionary13 on Oct 11, '04 02:02:18PM

From my experience, DW fixes problems that fsck does not. I used to run fsck from console mode periodically, hence the direct comparison. Since Panther, with journalling turned on, fsck reports that it's no longer necessary.

There certainly are utilities that aqua-fy simple command-line tools but DiskWarrior is not one of them. The user manual - cannot find a link on the Alsoft site - explains how DW works, and it is no way comparable with journaling - it's more radical.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: diamondsw on Oct 11, '04 02:12:16PM

The fundamental difference between DiskWarrior and pretty much every other disk utility is how it approaches fixing your problem.

Classic disk utilities (Norton, fsck, etc) work by finding incorrect parts of the directory and patching them with varying degrees of success. DiskWarrior takes a holistic view of the disk and creates a complete new directory from scratch based on all the information it can find (directory bits, other information blocks, etc).

Also aside from a "hand-holding GUI", the other awesome feature of DiskWarrior is it will create a new mountpoint for the fixed drive, effectively laying the new directory over the existing data (write-protected, of course). This allows you to safely examine *exactly* what your drive will look like when it's done, back up items, or anything else you want to do with it. You can also cancel at this point and leave the drive completely untouched - no more "halfway" repairs, as other utilities sometimes stick you with.

I know I've saved at least two dead drives thanks to DiskWarrior.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: leejoramo on Oct 11, '04 04:57:25PM

I have used DiskWarrior for 7 or 8 years. It is often fixed problems when Apple Disk Utility, Norton, TechTools or even single user mode fsck reported the drive as being unsalvageable. What is the difference between fsck and DiskWarrior? I don't really know. As others have said, Apple's Disk Utility is a wrapper around fsck. (And it does a lot of other stuff too.)

I remember reading that the developers of DW use to work for Apple in the development of HFS. They took this deep knowledge of the file system and created a tool that has saved me and my clients many times.

single user mode fsck may fix everything that you ever face. But just remember, that if you ever run into a situation that fsck doesn't do the job, DW will likely be a good investment.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - What it does
Authored by: emax on Oct 12, '04 09:24:25AM

DiskWarrior takes a completely different approach to disk repair that fsck/Disk Utility. For a very complete technical explanation and comparison of various disk utilities, check out David Shayer's article in the Nov 24, 03 issue of TidBITS (#707): http://db.tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tbart=07451

He looks at all the major players and objectively describes their strengths and weaknesses. As I recall, DW ends up at the top of the heap.

As for the poster who feels DW fails because it was taking too long to fix his drive, he shouldn't take it out on DW. If a drive is severly damaged, DW can take _significantly_ longer to repair it (as in overnight). But more likely than not, DW will repair the damage. Apparently, the poster needed a working hard drive faster than he needed his data back. Not DW's fault.

Finally, consultants and ad hoc support weenies take note:
DiskWarrior's license specifically states that it's only for use on systems that you own. So if you need to save a client or friend's bacon, that client needs to buy their own license.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - What it does
Authored by: rikske on Oct 14, '04 05:39:20PM

In the case of a client, that's just silly. When a client hires me to fix his computer, I need a tool to do the job. So I buy DW. The client doesn't have to buy it. A car mechanic isn't selling his clients tools whenever he fixes their car's isn't he ? That's why the client hires you. Otherwise he can do the job himself too.

But indeed, DW is very good and when I help a friend to fix his computer, I will always recommend to buy it, and usually they do.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: ankh on Oct 18, '04 09:52:47PM

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=107250

(With journaling, fsck gives false error reports you can ignore.)

I dunno. I've had problems where I did everything else, wasn't getting any error messages, WAS getting unexpected quits and crashes, ran Disk Warrior, it reported fixing problems, rebooted and the problems were indeed gone.

This is how superstitious behavior gets reinforced, I realize. But, somehow, I have gotten to feel like DW can do something the Mac standard tools aren't doing.

Whatever it is. I kind of think it actually creates a new directory, lets you compare it to the old one, and then and only then overwrites the old one. But, I'll leave answering _that_ to experts



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: mm2270 on Oct 11, '04 01:25:09PM

Yep, DW is the most essential tool in my virtual toolbox. It has saved me more times than I care to count.
Rob has it right- what it does it does extremely well.

@ Eugene- the main difference between DiskWarrior and most, if not all other disk repair utilities is that DW actually builds you a new clean directory. It doesn't patch on repairs to a damaged one. It examines the contents of said directory, creates a new identical one sans problems, and then writes the new directory in place in a fail-safe manner, provided you have enough free space on your drive. Most other utilities will just fix the damage on already messed up directories, which, over time, can come back to haunt you. I personally swear by DiskWarrior, but it's nice to have options like fsck.

I'm no Unix geek, so I can't say if this is also a difference between fsck and DW or not, but I suspect it may be.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: ciurana on Oct 11, '04 02:00:50PM

Thanks for your reply, mm2270.

I checked the documentation about HFS, HFS+, and UFS, the Mac's file systems, and how they're mapped by the BSD core in OS X. Based on what I discovered, I believe that fsck should be as effective (if not more so) than Disk Warrior. The ability to restore files will depend more on the actual file system than the tool, i.e. things like the ability to create sparse files or to erase currently open files (safe under Darwin/BSD but unsafe under Classic Mac OS) that may have an impact on recovery.

These are the items fixed/check by fsck:

1. Blocks claimed by more than one inode or the free map.
2. Blocks claimed by an inode outside the range of the filesystem.
3. Incorrect link counts.
4. Size checks:
Directory size not a multiple of DIRBLKSIZ.
Partially truncated file.
5. Bad inode format.
6. Blocks not accounted for anywhere.
7. Directory checks:
File pointing to unallocated inode.
Inode number out of range.
Dot or dot-dot not the first two entries of a directory
or having the wrong inode number.
8. Super Block checks:
More blocks for inodes than there are in the filesystem.
Bad free block map format.
Total free block and/or free inode count incorrect.

Like someone else pointed out, Disk Warrior is probably the best choice for people who feel intimidated by Terminal.app. It seems like they both do the same thing.

Now, one of these days I should start an open-source project to build a Cocoa front end for fsck...

Cheers and thanks for your response,

Eugene


---
http://eugeneciurana.com/musings/sushi-eating-HOWTO.html
San Francisco, CA USA



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: bryanzak on Oct 11, '04 02:06:36PM
Quote: It seems like they both do the same thing.
Yes, but they do it differently. QuckDraw and Quartz both draw 2D graphics, which would you choose? OpenGL and QuickDraw 3D both do 3D graphics, which would you choose? Gecko and KHTML are both rendering engines for HTML/CSS/JavaScript/etc. Which would you choose?

Quote: Now, one of these days I should start an open-source project to build a Cocoa front end for fsck...
Already done. It's called Disk Utility and Apple puts it on every machine :). DU is just a wrapper around fsck.

Bryan

[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: tonyinsf on Oct 11, '04 02:49:30PM

"Now, one of these days I should start an open-source project to build a Cocoa front end for fsck..."


But isn't that that what Disk Utility is? Or does it do something else, or not enough as fsck?

---
nomorebushit



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: Rusty Little on Oct 11, '04 07:16:01PM

Eugene,

Sorry, but you are mistaken about DiskWarrior and fsck. DiskWarrior and fsck are VERY DIFFERENT. fsck was written for UNIX file systems. Apple took it's formerly known "Disk First Aid" and built fsck_hfs for Macintosh disks. When fsck is invoked for a Macintosh disk it just redirects to fsck_hfs. fsck_hfs is part of Darwin and therefore the source code is available to the public. As co-author of DiskWarrior I can tell you there is very little resemblance between the methods used by fsck_hfs versus DiskWarrior.

When a user chooses "Repair Disk" in "Disk Utility", fsck_hfs shared code gets executed. Additionally, fsck_hfs is automatically run on all Macintosh disks attached locally to a Macintosh when it is started after it has not been being properly shut down. Most Macintosh users run fsck_hfs often either unknowningly or intentionally while never having used the Terminal application.

Rusty Little
Alsoft, Inc.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Aw, crap!
Authored by: maddys_daddy on Oct 11, '04 04:28:32PM

You guys have me a bit worried now. After a not-so-pleasant first experience with Mac's (I keep encountering battery problems with my 12" G4 PowerBook, and all signs point to a logic board defect), now it seems, from reading these posts, that a hard drive failure is inevitable and unavoidable. Now I'm not bashing Apple here, but why has my Dad's old Dell Inspiron been running flawlessly (albeit quite slow now) for about 4 1/2 years with nary a hiccup. (He's been running Linux on it for a couple of years, so that eliminates OS issues). I do make backups of my important stuff, as I realize that you should always plan for the worst, but from the almost religious and dogmatic following that DW seems to have here, it seems that the hard drives in Apple products fail as a matter of mere routine. Is this what I have to look forward to with my 1 year old PB? Because when I forked over the $1600+ for what I thought to be a superior quality product, when I could've bought a faster, more featureful (read more gadgety) PC laptop for less money, I did so because I thought it would last me faithfully for years to come. Please tell me that you all are anomalies. Please tell me that the money that I thought I was spending on quality actually bought quality.
Again, no disrespect intended to Apple or Apple products, as I will NEVER return to the "Dark Side of MiSery," but as the months go by, I discover something else that causes me to be a little bit more disenchanted with my enamoured PowerBook.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Aw, crap!
Authored by: bryanzak on Oct 11, '04 04:42:09PM

Well... in my case I've used DiskWarrior exactly once to restore a corrupt volume. This is the only case like this that I've experienced in the past... I dunno... six years? Maybe longer. I haven't update Norton in years, probably not since the System 7 days.

Other than that one time (and that was a direct result of a bad beta of Quicken hosing my directory structure so badly that nothing else could fix it) I can't remember any real disk corruption.

During these past six years I've pretty much ran two or three macs in the house at all times (probably five different models over the years). At work I've been programming on macs for the past fifteen years using a variety of models and OS versions.

So, while I have DiskWarrior and update each time it comes out and recommend it to anyone asking about disk repair tools, the last time I actually used it was years ago. I consider it nothing more than insurance. And since I do contract programming from home as well, it's worth the extra peace of mind. ymmv



[ Reply to This | # ]
Aw, crap!
Authored by: ahunter on Oct 11, '04 04:54:58PM

HD failures are par for the course no matter what you buy. 2002 was a bad year for me: I had two disks go (not in a Mac, in a PC). First started producing bad sectors (which was pretty much non-fatal to my data, and detected by SMART). The second, replacement for the first, suffered a logic board failure, which is very much an 'Aaaah! My data! My beautiful data!' moment. Especially as it spewed garbage over the IDE bus in its death throws, causing a fair amount of corruption to another, innocent disk.

In general, hard disk life is pretty random: you should 'expect' 3-4 years of life on average if you use your computer heavily. HDs have moving components: eventually they will sieze, or suffer a head crash, or just develop bad sectors.

Apple don't make hard disks, so you can't really blame them when they fail: HDs in Apple computers won't fail any more than HDs in any other computer. Some HDs are immortal, though. You can tell which these are because they either belong to someone else, are too small to be of any use or never have any important data on them (writing important data to them will instantly cause them to fail). A 40Mb disk of my acquaintance looked like it was seized, but actually could be started by hitting it with a hammer. This particular disk was from the era when it was thought that by even breathing too hard in the vincinity of a HD you could cause a head crash, and you had to remember to run 'park' before shutting down, so the percussive maintenance was guaranteed to give anyone nearby a near heart attack. (This is certainly not a recommended way to, uh, rejuvenate a disk with anything that matters on it, though. This particular disk contained a copy of Windows v1.0, so it was somewhat satisfying to hit it with a hammer)



[ Reply to This | # ]
Aw, crap!
Authored by: Makosuke on Oct 11, '04 05:16:12PM

First of all, there are two entirely different things we're talking about here:

1) Hard drive "failures", which involve a mechanical failure of the physical components of the hard drive. Although data may be recoverable from these cases, the hard drive is unrepairable and must be replaced.

Apple has no control over this, nor does any other computer manufacturer.

2) Data/directory corruption, which invlove a problem with the data on the disk NOT (for the most part) caused by a physical problem with the disk. In these cases, software tools should be able to fix problems, and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the physical disk.

Apple's OS can have some effect on this, but I've seen no evidence whatsoever that indicates the MacOS is any less prone to issues than any other OS--most will run fine for years without issue, but any could have random problems at any time.


If you want a more detailed explanation:

1) Apple (or any other computer maker with the exception of Toshiba and IBM to a lesser degree) has no control over the longevity of the physical hard drive--the company that makes the drive is NOT Apple, and regardless of who you buy your computer from, a desktop drive will be either a Maxtor, Hitachi, Seagate, Western Digital, or Samsung, and a portable either Toshiba, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Seagate, or Samsung. Apple uses several brands in each case, depending on a number of factors. Some hard drive makers make statistically more reliable drives than others, some make cheaper ones, and some make faster ones, but they're all similar.

So, fundamentally, if a hard drive in computer A lasts longer than the hard drive in computer B, it's mostly the luck of the draw. The only thing that could possibly make a difference is cooling, but Apple cools their drives well enough for the most part, so that's not worth complaining about.

2) Drive corruption is something that an OS maker can have some effect on, and so that's where you could be complaining about Apple vs. Microsoft vs. Linux, and where Diskwarrior, fsck, and other similar utilities come into play.

And, based solely on my personal experience with a few dozen computers running a variety of OSes over the past ten years, Apple does a reasonably good job of preventing drive corruption, and has been getting MUCH better about it over the generations of OSX. I've seen ill-maintained Macs run for years without problem, and I have yet to have the need for any 3rd party tools to keep my home drives running properly.

Directory or data corrupton does occur from time to time, and some programs are more prone to it, so tools like Diskwarrior are great to have as a just-in-case, but I've yet to see any proof or even anecdotal evidence that Apple's OS (or hardware) is any more likely to have drive corruption problems than any other.

Consider it a cost of using a computer, just like driving a car--sure, the computer might run perfectly for years, but that doesn't necessarily mean there's any special magic about the hardware maker or the OS--it could well be dumb luck, and no matter what you run, problems WILL happen eventually. Be prepared.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Aw, crap!
Authored by: derrickbass on Oct 11, '04 08:25:50PM

I have no experience with Windows (thank goodness), but Mac OS is definitely more prone to disk damage (the software kind) than other UNIX-like OS's I've used.

For example, even though all of my drives are journaled, I occasionally scan them with DW or DU and sometimes find problems (always minor, so far). That should NEVER happen on a journaled disk and the fact that it does indicates a problem with the OS.

Another example: if you run LimeWire on a nearly full disk or from an encrypted sparse image (e.g. Apple's FileVault), you may end up with overlapping files (which, by the way, DW takes FOREVER (i.e. days) to repair). Since programs not running as root can only access the disk structures via the OS, it cannot be the fault of those programs; there must be a bug in Mac OS X somewhere (presumably a race condition allowing overlapping allocations when two threads request disk blocks nearly simultaneously).



[ Reply to This | # ]
Aw, crap!
Authored by: robmorton on Oct 12, '04 09:54:39AM

You are reading about disk utilities. There are going to be a ton of stories about hard drive failures when talking about disk utilities. The people that have never had the issues, are probably not reading or responding.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: marianco on Oct 11, '04 05:03:37PM

Hard Disk Drives inevitably fail - whether or not it is on a PC or Macintosh. In my experience, Hard Disk Drives fail more often on a PC than on the Mac.

File directory corruption on hard drives, in my experience, happens more far more often on a PC than on the Mac. It's a lot easier to corrupt a hard drive on the PC than on the Mac.

However, when it does happen on the Mac, it is great to have utilities to fix them.

Disk Warrior is far better than FSCK/Disk Utility/Norton Disk Doctor, etc. because of ONE singularly very important thing: Disk Warrior replaces the current disk directory with a completely new and rebuilt-from-scratch directory. It doesn't repair an existing directory - which FSCK, Disk Utility, and Norton Disk Doctor do. Repairing an existing directory has the risk of further causing corruption.

I have only had one instance when Disk Warrior and the other utilities failed - when the directory was missing in the first place. In this case, Data Rescue X is highly useful for retrieving your data.



[ Reply to This | # ]
What do I do with the Compare feature exactly?
Authored by: hamarkus on Oct 11, '04 06:39:03PM

What exactly should I be looking for when DiskWarrior offers me to compare the new with the old directory? If I have a very important file, I can look whether it's still there, but I can't really do this for all the files which might be important to me...

Fortunately, I guess, I've always got a list of no more than about 15 files, listed in red, to which DiskWarrior did something. Should I check whether these files are still where I believe they should be?



[ Reply to This | # ]
What do I do with the Compare feature exactly?
Authored by: _merlin on Oct 11, '04 07:33:14PM

Look for file name changes, files that may have appeared or disappeared, file size changes, stuff like that.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: _merlin on Oct 11, '04 07:37:09PM

DiskWarrior is great, but if you have the original DiskWarrior 3.0, make sure you download the 3.0.2 update! There is a serious problem in 3.0 in the handling of file names that don't map to one of the more common Classic MacOS encodings. I once had a customer come to me with a computer where DiskWarrior had renamed most of their files to "Untitled <n>" because it couldn't handle Vietnamese names. Version 3.0.2 works fine, though.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Saved my brother's behind (!)
Authored by: kray on Oct 11, '04 08:45:28PM

I recently had a WD-80G hard drive (from Aug'01) die in my brother's Cube. He was complaining of "weird" things happening -- ultimately his entire iTunes library was scattered through the "Rescued Items" directory, but salvageable. Prior to Disk Warrior his drive was failing the S.M.A.R.T. test (which via Disk Warrior is turned on to always check) and nothing else would touch the drive.

Disk Warrior not only rebuilt the directory structure it allowed the drive to mount for a backup/copy -- something Disk Utility or Drive 10 couldn't do. It took almost two days to rebuild the directory structure, but another 2 to actually copy the files (and two more to restore everything for him :). Best $$$ ever spent IMHO. His too... :)

It now monitors my IDE RAID-1 [SMART] on my PowerMac as well (other utilities take care of the SCSI-160 end :).



[ Reply to This | # ]
If you still have OS 9...
Authored by: SlewSys on Oct 11, '04 09:39:33PM

There does seem to be more to fixing Apple's HFS drives than fsck. Rob's case of a disappearing drive/partition which passes fsck checks is not rare, unfortunately. However, in the cases that I know of, the problem was fixed by simply rebooting into OS 9 and then back to OS X! In other words, it is not a BSD filesystem/fsck problem (BSD doesn't "lose" drives). Rather, there appears to be some legacy OS 9 voodoo going on that OS X unfortunately doesn't know about yet...



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: ber on Oct 12, '04 01:36:22AM

Although it's about a year old the following article compares, contrasts and tests Norton Disk Doctor (effectively defunct I suppose), DiskGuardian, Drive 10 (replaced by TechTool Pro 4 I guess), DisKWarrior and Disk Utility.

<http://db.tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tbart=07451>

Personally I own them all except DiskGuardian (which I the demoed) and rely on the combination of Disk Utility, Disk Warrior and TechTool Pro 4.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: themacnut on Oct 12, '04 02:55:29AM

So, does anyone ever use DiskWarrior as a preventative maintenance tool? As in scanning a drive/partition every few months or so for directory damage? Seems to me like this would be a good thing to do on a semi-regular basis.



---
The MacNut



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: kms007 on Oct 12, '04 06:56:48AM

I run it once every two months just to be on the safe side.

-Krishna

---
Creator of "The PC Weenies" Cartoon



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: blase on Oct 12, '04 12:47:20PM

DiskWarrior is excellent in all cases and should be the only thing you need to fix your problems. After reading a great article on fragmentation with HFS+ Drives, I threw out my other utilitys(Tech Tool Pro, Norton etc.) You DO NOT need to defrag an OS X volume with the same mentality as a windows user. "I NEED to get rid of my BAD Blocks!". It does not work the same way. All I use is DiskWarrior for optimization and for extreme cases of recovery, Data Rescue X. That is it! Well, and some sort of cron, permission, prebinding utility. But they are free. I roar the Warrior about once a month and it definately speeds up my drive. Don't believe the hype Norton and Tech Tool have ruptured my drive in the past. They try and fail to do too much that is not needed.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: macmath on Oct 18, '04 11:32:21PM

I use DiskWarrior in that way...particularly if our power company has had some power issues lately (I need to get a new UPS). However, since Journalling, I've not noticed any real problems (and not hardly any at all since Jaguar).

I don't have a regular schedule, but I run it before OS updates (ie. before installing the 10.3.5 updater, etc). I've never had issues or problems with updates—they all have gone smoothly for me. (Although I'm sure there are a lot of people who never even run fsck or Disk Utility who also have smooth updating every time as well).



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: Pontifax on Oct 12, '04 11:43:49AM

Well, yeah it's great but not perfect. It really messed up my Cube, which also has OS9 installed (one partition for both OSs). After "fixing" the drive my wife own every file, except the ones in my home directory.
The wifes ownership included ALL system files, OS9 and X alike. (On my old trusty iBook nothing unexpected happened.)



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: macmath on Oct 18, '04 11:20:52PM

That permissions error was likely part of the voodoo that women can often wield over us and our computers. ;-)

Seriously, when one has an undesired result after using DiskWarrior to repair directory problems (especially those that fsck cannot repair) one has to wonder how much of those undesired results are due to the magnitude of the original directory damage and how much are due to DiskWarrior.

[I'm not intending to put words into your mouth...I know you did not say that you were using DiskWarrior to repair disk corruption or whether fsck had been used or not. Apologies if it seems that I am.]



[ Reply to This | # ]
100 feet - MAX!
Authored by: kriegsman on Oct 12, '04 12:20:35PM

I really like DiskWarrior.

At this point I tell people that they should never use a Macintosh without a copy of DiskWarrior within a hundred feet. I don't let friends or family buy a new Mac without also buying a copy of DiskWarrior.

Heck, I even keep a copy of the DiskWarrior CD image in a password-protected directory on my Web server, so that if circumstances arise where I really, really, really need DiskWarrior and I don't have the CD with me, there's at least an outside chance that I can download the image, burn it to a blank CD-R, and boot it to help rescue whatever system has died. And, yes, I've had to do that, and yes, I was incredibly glad I could.

Did I mention that I really like DiskWarrior?

-Mark



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: bzgnyc on Oct 13, '04 12:15:25PM

The problem here is the need for DiskWarrior in the first place. A good OS should never suffer filesystem corruption (etc) under normal use (unless a system-wide crash or bug). Journaling is supposed to protect the integrety of the filesystem from damage during a system-wide crash. Corruption under other circumstances (journaling or not) is a bug.


As another reader posted:
I have no experience with Windows (thank goodness), but Mac OS is definitely more prone to disk damage (the software kind) than other UNIX-like OS's I've used.

For example, even though all of my drives are journaled, I occasionally scan them with DW or DU and sometimes find problems (always minor, so far). That should NEVER happen on a journaled disk and the fact that it does indicates a problem with the OS.
[...]

That should NEVER happen on any filesystem unless an application is working directly with the filesystem and that should only be possible from applications run as root.

This has been one of the most disappointing problems with MacOS X. Or more generally, Apple software design is great, but Apple software robustness is not up to par. I have never experienced filesystem corruption during normal use on any other UNIX, but it almost seems normal to most Mac users.

A robust filesystem was one of the things I was most hoping for from MacOS X. When MacOS X finally became stable, I pushed to get our department converted ASAP because it seemed like my Apple tech. spent so much time on filesystem corrupted related problems. I was most disappointed when it became clear that the number of problems was reduced but not eliminated. The robustness of the filesystem is critical to any file-based OS and UNIX in particular. I don't understand why Apple doesn't have this drop-off-a-cliff hardened, yet.

And then, the OS should include sufficient tools to repair a corrupted filesystem. For example, SGI's XFS includes "xfs_repair" and it is very thorough. fsck_hfs -f -y /dev/XX helps but it seems it isn't enough.

Actually, I would very much like it if Apple switched to XFS. It includes support for features like attributes and forks (which I assume Apple needs) and is very robust. At least when used in IRIX -- not sure about Linux. Of course, I don't expect this to happen.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: CompuDude on Oct 13, '04 04:38:33PM

As a mac tech at a company with just under 200 macs on hand, I can swear by the bacon-saving goodness that is DiskWarrior.

Coming from the PC side, I, too, was puzzled at first as to why Macs seem to have such a fragile directory system that ends up needing DiskWarrior run over it on such a regular basis to cure a variety of oddball ills (especially when all it says is that it repaired some custom icons, and yet the problem at hand is magically fixed... WTF?). What I have come to realize is this. The sort of directory damage DiskWarrior fixes, and which Apple's HFS filesystem seems to prone to suffer, never happens under NTFS. My smug sense of PC-superiority disappeared the next time I had some disk corruption occur on a PC which destroyed the Windows directory, requiring a wipe and a full reload of the system. And another time when directory corruption took out the entire My Documents folder, with no recoverable files.

I realized that, while data corruption seems a lot more rare on a somewhat more robust NTFS file system, when it happens, it can be catastrophic. On a Mac, when it happens, DiskWarrior fixes it perfectly better than 99 times out of 100. In short, both systems can have problems, but while the problems happen more on the Macs, the severity of the problem is FAR less than when these things happen on a PC.

This has been my experience accross the board with Macs... Neither platform is perfect, but Macs tend to be easier to fix and troubleshoot than PCs. I rarely have to completely wipe and reload a Mac from scratch. PCs, depending on the problem, are frequently easier to simply wipe and reload than dig down through obscure registry settings to fix. I can do it when needed, of course, but the complexity of Win2k-XP has reached the sad point that it is often just plain faster easier to wipe and reinstall than spend a big chunk of time troubleshooting.

Sorry about the sidetrack. DiskWarrior. If you own a Mac, just buy a copy. Use it every few months as a preventative, and your Mac will thank you. :-) Between running DW and repairing permissions on a semi-regular basis, your Mac will likely keep humming happily for a good long time...



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - A very useful disk repair tool
Authored by: rickycolby on Dec 20, '04 08:29:00PM

Hello,

Can you please help me use my disk warrior?? My Imac will go to a blank blue screen right after I start it up. I was going to just buy a new os X but decided to use my friends disk warrior. How do I boot from it?

Please help me.



[ Reply to This | # ]
DiskWarrior - Not a useful disk repair tool
Authored by: thogard on Apr 03, '06 10:31:16PM

I bought Disk Warrior to attempt to recover a messed up disk from a friends powerbook. It didn't work and Alsoft never responded to my tech support request nor a request for a refund. It was a waste of $92.

I downloaded Data Rescue II and its demo mode found a great deal of files on the broken disk. Its demo mode is free but you can only recover one file at a time. I bought Data Rescue II and it spend the next days copying files.



[ Reply to This | # ]