How a disk utility saved my external hard drive and me from needless tears


I went to do something I often do which is connect my external hard drives to a computer to see files…. but tonight there were no files to see.  There was hardly a drive to see.  I don’t know what changed, but there was something it didn’t like.

This was a situation where tears would have come if the data on the drive was totally inaccessible.  Not because of a poor backup plan (I actually had one in this case!) but due to exhaustion.  But they would have been needless tears, as would have the frustrations that could have followed.


Instead of all that, I found this great link with a super suggestion to “try this”… it didn’t seem harmful or difficult, so I did.

LINK: Save your external drive!

The outcome was my learning about a free Mac disk utility called “Disk Arbitrator”.  In a few short moments I saw through this utility that my drive still had my stuff on it, was able to make my computer see it again through the standard Disk Utility on OS X and run a repair disk utility…. that didn’t seem necessary in the end.  But it seemed to come in, like a good mediator, and get everybody talking again.

MAC SOFTWARE: Check out Disk Arbitrator

I don’t know what the source of the problem was, and I know I should keep an eye on it.  But tonight I’m grateful that I didn’t spend hours trying to find a fix for a problem when this one did the trick.

Hat’s off to the original poster and a great little utility I’m sure will come in handy again.

The Case of the Disconnecting Drives has been Solved

server After an extremely frustrating moment where my randomly disconnecting drives escalated to become corrupted drives, I decided the pursue the matter further.

So yes, this is another techy, geeky post.  But maybe it will help somebody… Or even remind me later how I solved this when I come across the problem again.

What seemed to be happening was after a certain amount of inactivity, when left on this new hard drive enclosure (presumably) does something that makes the OS say ‘hey, you’re inactive… I will put your drives to sleep’ and then proceeds to disconnect everything very abruptly.

When I dug a little deeper I learned that there is an Energy Saver setting in OS X that controls whether the hard drives sleep or not.  It seems (at least for right now) I need them to not sleep.  (I imagine this includes external and the internal drive… So I might want to research this a bit more with respect to the internal drive.)

All I needed to do (it seems) is uncheck the “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” option, as seen in the screenshot.

Screenshot - OS X Energy SaverSo, there you have it. I made this change late last night, left the external drive on overnight and all through the day and everything stayed connect and uncorrupted. This is good news.

Another thing I learned about while prepping for this post was some nifty features about the “Preview” app in OS X. I’ll have to save those for a future post. But in the meantime, you Mac users, you really should check out the hidden power of Preview!

A Geeky Mac Discovery: How to Remount External Drives

Wchiparning, this is a geeky post.

I recently decided to change my file backup strategy for my Mac.  As part of this, I’m dealing with multiple external drives.  Today I started having problems with the drives disconnecting and I quickly grew frustrated when I had to shut down and restart the drives to make them visible again.

Enter the simple solution I’ve been dreaming of but didn’t realize.  In the “Disk Utility” app there is a “Mount” option for each drive.  How I’ve missed this for all these years, I’m not sure.  But it’s awesome news for a geek like me.

Thanks to the guy who wrote a helpful post which taught me this.  Visit his site/post here:

Why it’s randomly disconnecting?  Well, that’s a Google search for another day.

Crossing over… and other stories

Geek alert.

New monitor purchased today, so now the Mac Mini (aka BigMort) is running dual monitors — with an optional 3rd display if I connect my iPad.  The desk is a mess with wires and components, and especially as I’m trying (still) to get my files organized, consolidated, backed up, etc. as part of the move to BigMort.

The big success story of the day so far has been the use of a crossover cable (a friendly thing I picked up a number of computers ago) to transfer files quickly between my MacBook Pro and the Mac Mini.  Thanks to this site for making it ridiculously straightforward — — I moved stuff over without a hitch.  And now, I just have to start sorting, sifting, purging, etc. all the digital stuff.

The sad stories today have been about the flakiness of two of my external drives and/or drive enclosures.  Since I’m trying to transfer stuff from those as well and get all things organized it has been a frustration.  Eventually it will get worked out.  In the meantime a new USB 3.0 drive enclosure is moving some things around from the one happy drive.  But it needs to be reformatted, so that’s all fun and games too.

I can’t wait to get the desk area all happy and set up the way I like it.  Then there shall be geeky posting of photos of the command centre.  :)

Things that make me tech-happy

There are several things making me “tech-happy” right now.  The acquisition of a Mac mini affectionately known as “Big Mort” has a few things to do with that.  The top 5 for today:

5)  While it is noisy, my laptop (aka Mortimer) isn’t dead yet.  I have the luxury of copying a crazy mish-mash of files from the laptop, the original laptop drive, and various backup drives, into some kind of logical order on the new machine, and then….

4)  … get it all set up for use as a home server to access stuff centrally, as well as remotely if I choose.  Mmmmm, geeky goodness.

3)  I did spring for the wireless Mac keyboard and mouse.  Neither were a necessity, but the keyboard works ever so nicely with my iPad which extends its awesome and day to day usefulness.  The mouse is cooler than I expected, with touch features on the surface…. whaaaaa?  I didn’t read enough to see that coming.  It is pretty slick.

2)  I did *not* get the Mac remote control.  I don’t remember if that was a conscious decision at purchase time, but —- wait for it —- the remote that I got with my laptop 5 years ago works juuuuust fine, thank you very much.  A luxury that will live on for many a good year without another penny spent.  (I also didn’t get the Mac external superdrive for CDs/DVDs…. while it’s a little peculiar, my cheap-o Polaroid — yes Polaroid — external drive also works just fine.)

1)  I did *not* get the wireless Mac trackpad, which I actually had some opposite “buyer’s remorse” over very briefly.  It was the first real moment of “dude, I’m not in Mac laptop land anymore…. what am I getting myself into?”.  THEN, the moment of realization came.  I also have a Wacom Bamboo pen and touch tablet….. which is a fantastic tool that will be used much more often now that a desk set up is back in my life again.  Trackpad?  Check — I’ve got that and better.  Right on.

Also…. the Bamboo is what helps create the fabled Olive of the Day cartoons, among other things…. I’m really hoping for this as the return to the creative side once again.

Aside:  I also have been setting up a virtual machine with Windows 8 on it.  A legal copy, but man…. what a pain to install.  And then to use…. sooooooo, not tech-happy about it.  But eventually, I’ll have it set up just so and find the advantages to having a Microsoft environment at the fingertips when it’s the best tool for the job.  (Hopefully it won’t be too often.  ;)

DVD stuck in your MacBook Pro?

So I managed to get a blank DVD stuck in the MacBook Pro recently.

To get it out I had to (1) unlock it, and (2) unmount & eject.

(1) It was trapped as part of a DVD data disc burn gone bad. :( Somehow in this process it got locked. To unlock it, I had to:

– Click “Get Info” for the drive/DVD
– Uncheck the “Locked” checkbox

(2) To actual get the disc to come out, standard methods of ejecting didn’t work. So, I had to:

– Open up a Terminal session (get to the command line)
– type: diskutil umount disk1
– type: diskutil eject disk1

Wait wait wait…. hey LOOK! The DVD popped out. Hurrah!