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Using Free Tools to Recover Data from a Dead Mac Partition

Depending on its intended usage, a failed or dead Mac partition can result in a serious loss of productivity. However, it doesn't always have to result in the permanent loss of your data, too – as long as you follow these few simple steps.

First, try not to use your Mac. If possible, shut it down safely as soon as you notice the dead partition. You'll definitely want to avoid writing any new data anywhere on the same drive as the partition in question.

After you've identified your dead partition, there are a number of software-based tools at your disposal. In this article, we will highlight the best tools for recovering a dead Mac partition.


Developed by CGSecurity, {{|TestDisk}} will help recover a dead partition table. This isn't a guarantee that it will recover the files within the partition itself, but it will at least leave you with a partition that is recognizable by your macOS.

If TestDisk does restore access to your files, your system might still be left with a damaged partition table. For this scenario, you might want to continue your efforts with PhotoRec.


Developed in tandem with TestDisk, {{|PhotoRec}} actually ignores your Mac's file system altogether; allowing it to function even if the drive is severely damaged or inaccessible. It's user interface is similar to TestDisk, since it's developed by the same company, but it has many advanced options that you won't find with TestDisk alone.

But perhaps the best part is the fact that both TestDisk and PhotoRec are free and open-source software. As such, they're great for novices and advanced users alike – regardless of your budget.

R-Studio Data Recovery Suite

Pioneered by the development team at R-Studio, the {{|R-Studio Data Recovery Suite}} is a comprehensive solution for restoring a dead Mac partition. It's also helpful when performing many other data recovery and data forensics projects.

The sheer power of R-Studio Data Recovery Suite means its best left up to advanced users and professional data recovery experts. However, it is a highly affordable utility that offers many features that you won't find in any of your other options.

Disk Drill for Mac

With both a free and paid version to choose from, {{|Disk Drill for Mac}} lets you get a preview of its functionality before you'll have to commit to a purchase. Although it obviously boasts fewer features in the free version, it's still enough for some basic data recovery functionality – including lost or dead partition restoration.

It also supports many different devices, including internal hard drives, external drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, and more.

MiniTool Power Data Recovery

Although {{|MiniTool Power Data Recovery}} is primarily aimed at recovering photos, videos, music files, and other personal documents, it does have a handy partition recovery feature that works with damaged, lost, and dead Mac partitions. It also has a basic digital media recovery mode that is useful when trying to find and restore the aforementioned file types.


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