External hard drive data retrieval


Hello I recently plugged my iMac formatted external hard drive into my PS4 to try and watch some films. It didn’t work however when I plugged it back into the iMac I says that the disk is empty and it cannot connect
Can data be retrieved


What does disk utility say? Have you verified the disk and checked if it needs to be repaired?

Failing a host of diagnostic steps you should check first, Disk Drill might be able to recover your data. But I wouldn’t assume right off the bat that you need it.


Hi disk utility says that it is external hard drive is Uninitialised


Okay, in the past when this has happened to me, it was usually due to corruption of the file system or the partition table. In oversimplified language, it’s not that your files are necessarily damaged or gone, but that the “map” telling you were they are isn’t readable. Sort of.

This might help: http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk

I’m not a very technical person myself, honestly, so as always, take what I say with many grains of salt.


Says disk does not need repairing


Any help is better than none


You could try DiskWarrior, but it’s not cheap.


I don’t think TestDisk can repair Mac HFS+ file systems. - You said the drive was formatted on your iMac, so most likely is HFS+.
I thought it only worked on Linux and NTFS or FAT file systems. - I used the Mac version once to recover everything from a FAT32 USB flash drive.

You’d need to use Techtool, Drive Genius or similar to repair the directory structure, or Disk Warrior or Data Rescue to just get the files off the disk I think.


The hard drive is saying it’s empty on 3 different devices MacBook,iMac and PS4
However it won’t open
Would it be worth the cost


TestDisk can find lost partition tables for HFS+.

DiskDrill is another recovery option.


You’re probably the only one who can answer that. You need to answer the question for yourself of how important the data is.

Disk Warrior is the gold standard for disk repair utilities, so if the data is important then you probably want to buy a copy of that. TechTool is ok but I don’t use it for disk repair and the internet is full of stories of people who found that only DW did the job. And none of that means you’ll get your data back.

You’re probably not the first person to plug an HFS+ formatted disk into a PS4 either. Have you searched for others’ experiences?


As stated you are the only one that can decide if its worth spending money trying to get Data back.

There are many ways to try and retrieve data, some of which depend on what sort of files you are looking for. The last quote I got was “between $600 (minimum charge) and $2000” depending on what they needed to do.

I have had a lot of success using Sumuri Paladin (a Digital Forensics Bootable DVD aimed at MacOS) and creating a bit stream image of the External Disk (doesn’t need to be mounted) then running “Photorec” and other utilities to see what is recoverable from the image file. Photorec is aimed at recovering Image Files (jpg, png, mp4, mov etc) but can recover .doc, .pdf, .mp3 etc as well.

Another option would be to create a PartedMagic boot disk and see what it finds when you repair the disk. Though when using disk utilities, if they don’t work they can make things worse. I always take a bit by bit image of the drive using Paladin first, then you can run utilities on the image rather than the disk itself. Its what we do when forensically checking drives for evidence.


I made the mistake of plugging a Mac formatted drive into my BR player, which only reads Windows formatted. I was lucky, the drive was a clone of my usual media drive. However, the drive was pretty much wrecked. I tried all kinds of things to retrieve it but nothing worked. Disk Warrior, Tech Tool, Data Rescue (which is usually pretty good where the others fail) all came up empty. IN the end I realised that I wasnt going to be able to get the drive working again without re-initialising it.

I suspect that is what you’ll have to do. If you desperately need whatever is on the drive, its probably worth finding someone who can retrieve it for you, but most will simply use the same tools we all do. If you are able to get copies of whatever you had there without fuss, then I’d suggest you get on and do that.


I plugged back into iMac this morning got a message that said
computer cannot read disk
Gave me the option to initiallise
Did nothing


Have you tried disk warrior or data rescue? If you don’t, and you continue to do nothing, you have a doorstop.