I have permanently deleted a folder by manually pressing the delete key on my external hard drive and realised not much later that I still need the data in that folder.

I immediately turned off my HardDrive and thought about the options I have for recovering the data. Because I worked on that HardDrive (sorting through files etc.) there are many deleted files and folders. I am very sure that I only need one folder back.

photorec will recover all the deleted files, but I can't chose which one, and to be honest, it's a mess searching through 40 GB+ of files to find the few I actually need. To make things a bit more complicated, the HardDrive's filesystem is HFS+.

Free-Trial Data Recovery applications have showed said deleted folder and listed the correct folder size, but require payment in some way to actually recover this folder.

Is there a - preferably free - method to recover only chosen files from an external HardDrive? I


1 Answer 1


Linux has mediocre HFS+ support: the open-source kernel module defaults to read-only mode because write support is considered unstable (and thus potentially destructive).

The situation is even worse for integrity checks and recovery. You should use the tools that Apple provides for its home-grown file system or commercial tools that specialise in HFS+ undeletion or data recovery. These should give you better chances of success for file undeletion than Photorec. The former leaves traces behind that allow a complete and easy recovery if the freed blocks weren't reclaimed while the latter looks for known content type patterns in arbitrary blocks of data (that may or may not contain a valid file system).

  • I have a dual boot, but low-level stuff is usually easier to do on Linux, that's why I asked here. Are you aware of tools by Apple or should I go and ask AskDifferent?
    – Narusan
    Sep 10, 2017 at 16:40
  • @Narusan: I'm not aware of any such tools though I'm certain they exist. (I never had a Mac but know enough about HFS+ fundamentals that it would be crazy if there were no such tools.) Questions about software for Mac OS is off topic here for obvious reasons but you can ask about it over on Ask Different. Sep 10, 2017 at 16:46
  • Or OP could use Testdisk. Sep 11, 2017 at 23:15
  • @AndreaLazzarotto: Testdisk cannot undelete files on HFS+ or otherwise recover them. Please refer to the official feature list. Sep 12, 2017 at 7:39
  • Yikes. o.O I guess I have to consider adding a HFS+ module to RecuperaBit. Sep 12, 2017 at 9:03

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