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Recover/repair a corrupt encrypted sparse image Storage Devices
If you have lost an encrypted image, such as after a power shortage or system hang, you are probably familiar with the "corrupt image" message that displays when you try and mount the disk image. Yet you might be able to recover it. I spent some time researching how these files are created and was able to recover mine.

I posted the results on my web site.

kirkmc adds: I haven't tested this. Make sure you make a copy of the corrupted disk image before trying out the above procedure. It's worth noting that DiskWarrior can repair some corrupted disk images; I'm not sure whether it works with encrypted disk images, but when I recently reviewed the program for Macworld, I tested it on normal corrupted disk images, and it repaired all the problems I was able to create. Your mileage may, of course, vary, depending on the type of corruption.
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Recover/repair a corrupt encrypted sparse image
Authored by: Rusty L. on Apr 27, '07 08:47:10AM

As long as you know the password for an encrypted disk image then DiskWarrior 4 will repair it just as it would a disk image that is not encrypted.

Rusty Little
Alsoft, Inc.
DiskWarrior Project Manager

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Recover/repair a corrupt encrypted sparse image
Authored by: kirkmc on Apr 27, '07 09:50:46AM

Thanks for confirming this Rusty.


Read my blog: Kirkville --
Musings, Opinion and Miscellanea, on Macs, iPods and more

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Recover/repair a corrupt encrypted sparse image
Authored by: ptone on Apr 27, '07 08:55:33AM
I'm not a fan of having the entire hint posted at a site that may or may not exist in the future. The OP should update in the comments. I've copied and pasted the original posters hint here so that it is preserved in this sites archive.

Recover a corrupt AES-128 encrypted sparse image (using an older backup - without it, you're almost lost)

Version 1.3, April 2007

General considerations

An important, encrypted sparse image (like file vault), got corrupted after a system freeze.
I only had an older backup (I should have had a newer one, I know...)

trying to mount the image (by finder or hdiutil) yielded...:

[host:~] user% hdiutil attach -nomount -noverify -noautofsck -stdinpass MyImage.sparseimage
hdiutil: attach failed - corrupt image

using the -debug option in hdiutil showed some more (taken the most informative lines):

[host:~] user% hdiutil attach -nomount -noverify -noautofsck -stdinpass -debug MyImage.sparseimage
WARNING flushing header and index nodes failed.
DIResolveBackingStoreToDiskImage: unable to resolve to any disk image class. 103.

It was then clear that some sort of header was broken.
Just because a little bit is gone all my data gone??! Without even the possibility to repair it somehow!?

Yes. Why? Because AES encryption is not just your passphrase molded into your data. Your passphrase gets thru a method called pbkdf2. This function generates the 128-bit key needed using your passphrase, a salt, and a certain number of iterations.

The Key, the salt, the information needed for the iv and other info are stored into the image header, a 4kb block, which is in turn encrypted using 3DES-EDE. Without this header, you're basically LOST.

Last but NOT least, Apple has (by now) 2 formats for the header and 2 places for them: the old one, version 1, (concerning my case and all FileVault/encrypted images created before Mac OS X 10.4.7), was stored at the END of the image.

With version 1 of the header, at every sync, it has to be attached at the end of the file. If the computer freezes, or you have a power interruption, mac os x fails to write this down and you lose the most importan piece of information.

The new format (version 2) introduced with Mac OS X 10.4.7 stores the header at the BEGINNING of the image, which is a much safer idea. But this actually happens only for new images. So my advice is: If you have older encrypted sparse images, make new ones immediately and copy the files onto them!

Fortunately, I had an old copy of that same, corrupt image, from which I could recover the lost header.

I copied the last 4kb of the old image to the end of the broken one, and then I was able to attach the device. I used the tool referenced as vfdecrypt below to decrypt it first into an unencrypted sparse image, but that should not be usually necessary, hdiutil should attach the image device if it finds a valid header.
The filesystem was broken, but with the help of Disk Warrior 4 I was able to rebuild the filesystem (fsck was not enough in this case).

Step-by-step description of what I did (given an older backup)

If You still have an old backup of the broken image, you can try the following, (on a copy of the broken image of course):

[host:~] user% dd if=WorkingBackup.sparseimage bs=1 skip=`ls -al WorkingBackup.sparseimage  | awk '{ print $5 -4096 }'` of=Broken.sparseimage seek=`ls -al Broken.sparseimage  | awk '{ print $5 }'`

then you can try to attach it, without mounting, as the filesystem will need to be probably checked:

[host:~] user% hdiutil attach -nomount -noverify -ignorebadchecksums Broken.sparseimage

if it attaches, You can try to repair it with fsck (change X and Y accordingly):

[host:~] user% fsck_hfs -f /dev/diskXsY

if it is not enough, like in my case, You can still try with DiskWarrior (having the image attached but not mounted).

What helped a lot the understanding:

Read - THANKS to You guys at!!!

Useful decryption tool (included in
I used the source of vfdecrypt, vfdecrypt.c/.h, to better understand what's happening and the binary to obtain an unencrypted version of the image, which I then mounted with hdiutil. Might be useful for You, too:

[host:~] user% curl -O ''
[host:~] user% tar xzf vilefault-23c3.tar.gz
[host:~] user% cd vilefault/vfdecrypt
[host:~] user% gcc -lcrypto util.c vfdecrypt.c -o vfdecrypt
[host:~] user% ./vfdecrypt -v -i MyBrokenImage.sparseimage -o MyBrokenImage_decrypted.sparseimage -p 'mypassphrase'
Image headers: how to find out which header version you have.

If You made a new filevault before 10.4.7, it is highly advisable to make a fresh one. This will reduce the risk of corruption drammatically. There is an easy way to check if Your image has the header at the beginning or at the end:

[host:~] user% dd if=/Users/path_to.sparseimage bs=1 count=8 2>/dev/null | grep -c encrcdsa

If the result is "1" then you have a version 2 header, which is at the beginning. That's good :)
If it is 0, then you have the old format, version 1, which places it at the end. You can counter-Check it with the following:

[host:~] user% dd if=/Users/path_to.sparseimage bs=1 skip=`ls -al /Users/path_to.sparseimage  | awk '{ print $5 -8 }'` 2>/dev/null | grep -c cdsaencr

If you  have a version 1 header (bad! risky!), the latter line will output 1.

How to possibly find a lost image header (if you have no backup)

As You can see from the above, both headers have a string to recognize them: version 1 headers END with the string "cdsaencr" , while version 2 headers BEGIN with the string "encrcdsa". If you have no backup image from which to restore the header, there is some chance to find these on the free space of your hard disk. To do this, the best thing is to write a script in perl, php, or a program in C, which reads your hard drive partition device (the one containing the broken image, e.g. /dev/disk0s3), searching for one of those strings (presumably "cdsaencr", as version 1 headers are the ones that break more often). If you find it, try to copy that block back to a file (best on another device, to avoid overwriting it). Be sure to seek to the position where you found the string, minus 4088. The inverse is true for "encrcdsa", version 2, i.e., position of the "e" + 4095.

Good Luck!

©2007 Lorenzo Perone (email)

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Recover/repair a corrupt encrypted sparse image
Authored by: lpzlpz on May 07, '07 03:26:46AM

Hi, I'm the original author of the hint. Please apologize for not posting it completely on Macosxhints. It is completely OK for me (@admins!) to edit this hint to contain the whole story. I added a note on the original page for confirmation, also, upon a visitor request, the binaries for the linked tool vfdecrypt by
Please leave the link to the page, however. If I'll find any news on the subject I'll update the page (ok, and maybe I'll also post a comment).
Glad to hear it helped others too.


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Page format problem
Authored by: googoo on Apr 27, '07 10:46:23AM

This is not related to the hint content--only the way it is displayed. For some reason this page does not wrap to my window width in Safari or Firefox (most annoying). The other hint pages look fine. Please fix this!


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Page format problem
Authored by: vocaro on Apr 27, '07 11:19:30AM

The reason is because of the long command line examples in ptone's message. Evidently, text inside a code tag does not wrap.

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Page format problem
Authored by: Krioni on Apr 29, '07 04:46:17PM

Could someone edit the above comment to add some line-wrapping? To shorten a command add a backslash where you want to introduce line-breaks - that will allow the line returns to work if a user copies the command and pastes into Terminal.

Also, the original site (and the post copied here) include some funny Unicode characters that LOOK like spaces, but when copied to the Terminal introduce escaped characters: backslash302 and backslash240. It means the command doesn't work. Basically, I recommend TYPING in the command carefully by hand, paying attention to the backtick (left of the '1' key) as opposed to single-quote characters, etc.


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Recover/repair a corrupt encrypted sparse image
Authored by: DylanMuir on Apr 28, '07 03:53:24AM

I second the complaint of the second comment — a link to a website is not a hint. Rewrite the hint content to post on macosxhints; otherwise it smacks of "visit my blog", and will most likely be useless in under a year.


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It worked!
Authored by: Krioni on Apr 28, '07 07:30:59PM

Quick note: I agree that hints should be posted here, not just links to hints elsewhere.

Most important: this WORKED!

I had a 2 GB encrypted image with important information on it that was corrupted in early September 2006. The last backup I had was from the end of July (I normally backup every night, but was in the middle of moving and the backup drives were packed away - very bad). Anyway, I had given up hope of ever retrieving the files from August, but when I came across this guy's process, I dug around and found both the good backup from July and the corrupt image on a secondary backup drive I have.

I renamed my images just to make it easier to try this, and it worked! I didn't even need DiskWarrior. Here's what I had to do, slightly different from his instructions (or perhaps I misunderstood them):

After the 'dd' step, then the 'hdiutil attach ...' step, you do the 'fsck_hfs -f /dev/diskXsY' step, where X and Y come from the results it gives you in the previous step (look at the Apple_HFS line in the results).

Mine said "appears to be OK." Problem - it still wouldn't mount when I tried. Instead of trying to mount by double-clicking, go to Disk Utility. In the list on the left will be Broken.sparseimage (or whatever yours is called), with a greyed-out volume icon below it, showing that it is there, but not mounted. Click on the volume icon, then run the Repair Disk. If it passes, or fixes something, then click the Mount button. Mine asked for the password, then mounted properly in the Finder. I was able to copy off everything I needed, recovering files I've thought were lost forever (including my personal thoughts on the process of quitting my job, selling my house, and moving to NYC to go to grad school).


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Recover/repair a corrupt encrypted sparse image
Authored by: gogool on Jul 28, '07 07:33:16AM

Great Hint. I found a way to recover my corrupt disk image even without a working backup.

I just created a dummy sparseimage, using the same password and size I used to create the orginal image.

Instead of the backup image i used the dummy to copy the header info from and my orginal image was back again.

But there is an other part of the hint not working for me. I'm not able to create a sparseimage using the V2 format (header at the beginning of the file). All disk images I create still use the dangerous V1 format. I have tried it with the "Disk Utility"-Application and with the hdiutil-command:

hdiutil create -size 1g -encryption -type SPARSE -fs HFS+J newimage

So, how do I create a new sparseimage on OS X 10.4.10 that uses the new more secure format? Is there an option for the hdiutil-command?

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Recover/repair a corrupt encrypted sparse image
Authored by: mtheory on Jun 22, '10 05:21:53PM

Hi, big problem for me... i have a encrypted sparseimage (over 2.6 GB) on a FAT 32 pendrive. My daughter had removed without secure eject and with the sparseimage opened. Now, when i try to insert the pen drive (16 GB) the system say "Maosx cannot repair the disk " but the disk is mounted and i can only copy the files from the pendrive to another location ( as well as my internal HD, for example). So, when i try to cpy the sparseimage the process stop at 1.3 Gb around... I suppose i have some bad sector inside the pendrive. In any case my sparseimage is corrupted. Any ideas to solve my big problem?
Thank you very much for any suggestion ( 'm desperate)

Ps: Sorry for my bad english.. i write from Italy.

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