Folders misterioulsy wiped on an external HDD

Dec 27, 2020
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Alright, this is very tough, I'm still under shock as I never experienced such a thing before... I need help to figure out what happened with my files.

Yesterday, I was organizing my media library (photos, music, backups from my phone and other documents) using 2 external HDDs attached to a OWC drive dock. At some point I decided to move a big folder (about 400 GB) from drive 1 to drive 2 while I was looking online ( for some transparent PNG icons to customize few folders. I downloaded a bunch of PNG icons, and then I moved that Icons folder from Downloads to the external drive 1 to one of the folders there. Well that's the time disaster happened: 3 of my folders (one with photos, one with resources and one with music) suddenly vanished with no warning or any notification!!!

Now, on the drive 1 I had 9 main folders and the 3 ones that got vanished had a "+" character in front of the actual name (ex. /Volumes/MEDIA LIBRARY/+ DIGITAL MUSIC LIBRARY/) (I was named it like that to be easier to identify while organizing my stuff). I didn't notice the actual wiping out immediately, only after a while (I don't know, 10 to 30 minutes maybe)...

The storage of the missing folders (about 600 GB or maybe more) is now shown as available on the drive 1 like it was deleted and the trash emptied. I have not a single clue what happened, and you can imagine that I wasn't that idiot to delete my own files. 6 of the folders which are now left on the HDD are intact and contains RAW data that I used to extract and organize into the 3 folders that I mysteriously lost.

Besides that, when you delete such a big amount of files
1. you'll get notified and
2. it will take a while
3. with a regular delete process will go into Trash and then
4. you should manually empty the Trash for files to completely be gone.

None of these steps occurred. In fact, I'm always careful when I'm deleting folders and files from trash looking always at the size of the files and folders that I will wipe.

After this scary event, I immediately stopped working with the drive and I installed few recovery apps in this order:

Recoverit Data Recovery and then EaseUS Data Recovery, both totally useless as none of them discovered any deleted folder. Not even a trace, like never been there or existed! The hard drive is NTFS formatted, and I'm using it on Mac with the help of Paragon NTFS for Mac.

Right now I'm scanning it with Runtime GetDataBack (on my Windows Notebook) but to be honest I have no hope anymore. The scan will take like 56h to be completed using the Level 5 - Deep Scan (first 3 levels discover nothing but only the remaining folders). The HDD is brand new (Seagate 16 TB HDD Exos X16, ST16000NM001G - retail, verified, with genuine SN) and is working flawlessly - I'll check later for bad sectors, but I doubt I'll find any - I've checked it also with CrystalDiskMark and looks good.

Where can I see the event viewer on Mac (like a log for when files were moved, copied or deleted) to see exactly the moment of disaster? I had installed Bitdefender and right now I did also a scan with Malwarebytes but no virus or anything suspicious has been found...

I'm really desperate, and I have no idea what can I do to recover my files...
Please help!

Thank you!

Cory Cooper

May 19, 2004
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Hello and welcome.

I am so sorry you are experiencing this issue. I don't have a reasonable explanation of what could have happened either, as I agree that you are normally notified when deleting that large of an amount of data. The only thing I can think of is that the drive's catalog/directory somehow became corrupted, and it is now reporting the space used by that data as free space.

In my experience, the majority of the recovery software applications don't work very well, especially if the data doesn't report as deleted. When they do find files, they normally just throw them into folders by file type and do not recover the file names properly. The same is true for paid data recovery services, which are VERY expensive and are not guaranteed.

Unfortunately, NTFS is not recommended for use on hard drives with Macs, as the macOS disk journaling doesn't work like it does with Mac OS Extended (Journaled) HFS+ or APFS formatting/partitioning. There are also file size and permissions issues with NTFS, and OS X/macOS only supports read-only natively.

I am not sure if BitDefender had anything to do with the issue, as I am not very familiar with it, and normally do not recommend it for Macs.

Honestly, this will be very difficult to support via a web-based forum without having hands-on the drives, and I would hate to suggest something that may contribute to further data loss.

I wish you the best and apologize for not being able to assist with any confidence.


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