Disk Utilities are Worthless

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Yesterday morning I had to hard reboot my Mac Pro when it wouldn’t unlock from the screensaver. When it came back up there were a few question marks in the task bar, some surprising warnings about full disk space from an extension I thought I’d turned off years ago, and unexpected software update messages. I eventually realized that my 480GB OWC Excelsior SSD had died, or at least was not being recognized. This is my primary boot drive, but instead my Mac had booted off another system disk with an older group of apps and Mac OS X 10.6.

Not a disaster; my data is backed up and my home directory never lived on this drive in the first place. I sent a message to OWC support (27+ hours and still no response, by the way) and then fired up Disk Utility. Disk Utility could not see the missing drive.

Next I launched TechTool Pro. Completely worthless. It found a few corrupt files on other drives but had no idea that the SSD drive even existed. And then it occurred to me that this is a common pattern. Although I have about one personal hard drive failure a year, I have never been able to use TechTool, DiskWarrior, Norton (back in the day) or any other such repair utility to fix anything ever.