How to Recover an HFS Partition

Written by chad anderson
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How to Recover an HFS Partition
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

The HFS, or hierarchical file system, is the predecessor to the modern HFS Plus used by many Apple computers today. There are a number of ways to recover a HFS partition after it has been corrupted or accidentally deleted. One way is to recreate the partition table exactly as it was before, provided you have copied down your partition table data. If not, you can use additional programs to recover the data such as Apple's built-in Disk Utility or TestDisk.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging



  1. 1

    Download and install TestDisk from the CGSecurity Website. TestDisk is a cross-platform digital forensics and recovery package that can recover permanently deleted files or missing partitions.

  2. 2

    Launch a terminal window and execute the "testdisk" command to get started. If you are not the root user of your machine, TestDisk will ask for your permission then restart itself as the root user.

  3. 3

    Using the arrow keys, highlight whether you want to "Create" a log, "Append" an older one, or not log your actions at all, then press "Enter" to continue.

  4. 4

    Highlight the disk containing the HFS partition you need recovered, then press the "Enter" key to continue. The next screen will ask you the partition table type. Normally, TestDisk can detect this by default, but you should confirm its selection before pressing "Enter" to continue.

  5. 5

    Highlight the "Analyse" option from the next screen, then press the "Enter" key. The "Quick Search" option should already be highlighted in the next section. Press "Enter" to continue. TestDisk will now search your hard drive for your missing partition.

  6. 6

    Highlight the missing partition and press "p" to view its file contents to confirm that it's the right partition. Press "q" to exit the file viewing section, then highlight the missing partition again and press the "Enter" key.

  7. 7

    Highlight the "Write" option and press "Enter" to rewrite your partition table and recover the HFS partition. Reboot your computer once TestDisk is done to properly mount the partition and provide access to your recovered data.

    Disk Utility

  1. 1

    Open a Finder window and navigate to your "Applications" folder, then scroll down and click to open the "Utilities" folder.

  2. 2

    Close any files or applications that are currently using the disk. It is important that the disk is not being accessed while recovery takes place.

  3. 3

    Click the "First Aid" button, then click the "Verify or Repair" button to have Disk Utility attempt to fix the disk.

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