Free Mac File System Recovery

When considering Mac OS X data recovery, much depends on the formatting (also called the file system) of the drive. But whether you are looking for HFS recovery for Mac, file recovery for Mac FAT32 systems, or NTFS recovery for Mac, Disk Drill can help. The tool can also be used to get data back from damaged APFS, FAT, and EXT3/EXT4 file systems.

Why File System Repair on a Mac may be Necessary

Your Mac’s file systems can become corrupted or damaged for a variety of reasons. An infection by a virus or malware can result in a corrupted storage device. A failing drive with a bad sector may also be the cause of a damaged file system. Formatting problems, power spikes, and hardware failures can all be reasons that you may need to perform a file system repair on your Mac.

Signs that your storage device has a damaged or corrupt file system include:

  • The inability of the device to be recognized by Mac OS X;
  • Unexplained system crashes;
  • Missing or unusable files;
  • Application failure;
  • Slow response and performance degradation.
file system recovery

How to Recover System Files on Mac?

1. Download and Install Disk Drill

Download Disk Drill data recovery software for Mac to your machine and simply drag it to the Applications folder. When prompted, provide your administrator’s credentials to allow the program the functionality it requires. If the file system that you are interested in recovering is on your Mac’s main disk, perform the download and installation on an alternate stage device like a flash drive. This is to prevent the accidental overwriting of the information that you wish to recover.

Download and Install Disk Drill

2. Select the Drive for Recovery

Launch Disk Drill and select the disk for recovery from the list presented in the app’s main window. If you are recovering a file system from an external device, connect it to your Mac before starting Disk Drill. It will appear in the disk list where you can select it to be scanned.

Select the Drive for Recovery

3. Scan for Lost Data

Click the Recover button to start scanning the selected disk. You can choose the type of scan you wish to run or let the program run all of its scanning algorithms in the optimal order. Using that option will provide the most complete recovery results.

Scan for Lost Data

4. Preview the Recoverable Data

As the scan proceeds, Disk Drill will display a list of the files that can be recovered. You can pause the scan at any point and recover files that have been located by the software. Scan results can be mouted as a virtual disk, making it easy to move the recovered files to new storage locations.

Preview the Recoverable Data

5. Perform the Recovery

Click the Recover button a second time to recover the selected files. Choose a safe storage location that is not on the affected disk. This will prevent you from overwriting items that you wish to recover. You might want to reformat the original disk once you have recovered all of its data to install a fresh file system.

Perform the Recovery

Files Systems Supported for Recovery by Disk Drill

Disk Drill supports all major file systems for recovery. Here are the various file systems that can be restored with this versatile software tool.



Apple File System is the most recent Apple file system that is used by the macOS and iOS operating systems. Its features include support for full disk encryption and the ability to work with large storage volumes. APFS is optimized to provide better performance with solid-state drives.



The Hierarchical File System was the file system first introduced for use on Mac hard disks. It is rather inefficient and does not work well with large disks, which led to it being replaced by Apple.



The Hierarchical File System Extended was Apple’s answer to address issues with HFS. It uses disk space much more efficiently by reducing the minimum cluster size. This file system is very popular on Macs and MacBooks.



The New Technology File System was first introduced to the public with the Windows NT operating system. It is a native Windows file system that is still used by many storage devices. Disk Drill can be used to repair an external NTFS drive on a Mac.



The File Allocation Table and Extended File Allocation Table file systems are also Windows-specific file systems that can be recovered by Disk Drill for Mac. Just connect the device to your Mac and Disk Drill can scan and recover its contents.



Disk Drill for Mac can perform data recovery on EXT4 and EXT3 file systems. All you need to do is attach the storage device to your computer and select the Linux disk in the app’s window.

Supported File Formats for File System Recovery

Disk Drill’s advanced scanning capabilities enable it to recover over 400 different file formats when restoring a damaged or corrupted file system. All popular video, image, audio, document, and archive formats are supported when performing a Mac file system recovery. Files can be filtered during recovery to make it easy to find the items you need.

BMP, TIFF, PSP, JPEG, JP2, GIF. Polaroid/Sigma: X3F. Pentax: PEF. Adobe: AI, LRCAT, PSB, APM, IDML, PSD, INDB, INDD, INDL, INX.
MP3 (MPEG Audio Stream, Layer III), WMA (Windows Media audio files), AIFC, AIF, AIFF (Audio Interchange File)
AVI, FLV (Flash video), MPG (MPEG video), M4V (iTunes video), MP4 (MPEG-4 video), WMV (Windows Media Video)
DMG (Mac OS X Disk Image), RAR (WinRAR Compressed Archive), CAB (Windows Cabinet File), ZIP (Extended Zip File), 7Z (7-Zip Compressed)
XLSX (Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet), DOCX (Microsoft Word), PDF (Portable Document Format), PPTX (Microsoft PowerPoint)
Other Files
Other Files
DB (Paradox), SQL (bundled SQL queries), OTF (OpenType Font), ACCDB (Microsoft Database), MYO (MYOB Limited Windows File)

Recover Damaged File Systems from Any Device

Disk Drill can recover files from damaged or corrupted file systems from any type of disk-based device. If you can connect the device to the Mac running the recovery software, Disk Drill can scan it and recover its data. Here are some of the devices that are supported by this flexible recovery program.

PC / MacPC / Mac
PC / Mac

Dell®, HP®, Acer®, Asus®, MacBook Pro®, MacBook Air®, Apple iMac® and more


HP®, Samsung®, Seagate®, Toshiba®, WD®, LaCie®, Intel®, Adata® and more

USB Drive
USB Drive

SanDisk®, Samsung®, Kingston®, Corsair®, Patriot®, PNY®, Verbatim®, Silicon Power® and more

SD / CF Card
SD / CF Card

SanDisk®, Transcend®, Toshiba®, Lexar®, Integral®, SP®, PNY®, Kingston® and more

Digital Camera
Digital Camera

Samsung®, HP®, Sony®, GoPro®, Canon®, Sigma®, Nikon®, Epson®, Panasonic® and more

iPhone / Android (Mac ONLY)**
iPhone / Android (Mac ONLY)**

Samsung Galaxy®, iPhone®, Lenovo®, Huawei®, OnePlus®, Google Pixel®, LG® and more


* If TRIM is disabled. Learn more >

Features of Disk Drill File System Recovery Toolkit for Mac

The Disk Drill File System Recovery Toolkit for Mac includes many features that set it apart from the competition. Here is an overview of what you get with this comprehensive data recovery and protection application.

File Recovery Software for Mac

File Recovery Software for Mac

Recover files in over 400 different file formats and all major file systems from virtually any type of disk-based storage device with a few simple clicks.

SD Card Recovery

SD Card Recovery

Recover data from an SD or memory card quickly and easily by connecting the device to your machine with an external or internal reader.

Mac Hard Drive data recovery

Mac Hard Drive data recovery

Protect your valuable hard drive data with the free Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery tools that streamline file recovery from accidental deletion.

Partition Recovery on Mac

Partition Recovery on Mac

Losing a complete partition can be devastating. Restore the data from a lost or formatted partition and escape disaster with this software tool.

Mac Trash Recovery Software

Mac Trash Recovery Software

If you accidentally empty the Trash while it contains important data, you can get it back in a few clicks and keep right on working.

iPhone Recovery Software

iPhone Recovery Software

Recover data from iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads by connecting to your Mac. Disk Drill treats its storage as a disk and can recover its data.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Disk Drill Team

How to recover deleted files from EXT3 and EXT4?

Follow these steps to recover files in the Linux EXT3/EXT4 formats.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill on your Mac.
  2. Connect the Linux storage device to your computer.
  3. Launch Disk Drill and select the device from the disk list.
  4. Click Recover to scan for lost data.
  5. Preview the files that can be recovered.
  6. Click Recover again to restore your data.

How to Recover Lost Data from Mac HFS File System?

Disk Drill can recover lost data from a Mac HFS file system in multiple different ways.

  • Traditional data recovery using its user-friendly interface and advanced scanning technology.
  • The Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery features enable you to Undelete Protected Data with a single click. You can configure these tools to protect the designated folders and files that are important to you.

How to recover files from an NTFS file system?

Use the following steps to perform NTFS data recovery on Mac.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill on the Mac.
  2. Connect the NTFS device or Windows computer to the Mac.
  3. Launch Disk Drill and select the disk containing the NTFS file system.
  4. Click Recover to search for lost data.
  5. Preview the files found during the scan.
  6. Click Recover to complete the NTFS recovery from your Mac.

Which software is best for file system recovery?

Best File System Recovery Software in 2021:

  1. Disk Drill File Systems Recovery Software
  2. OnTrack EasyRecovery
  3. CrashPlan
  4. Piriform Recuva
  5. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro
  6. Wise Data Recovery
  7. Paragon File Recovery Software
  8. MiniTool Power Data Recovery

What is NTFS Recovery?

NTFS file system recovery is the process of recovering data from an NTFS formatted storage device. Repairing an NTFS file system from your Mac is possible with Disk Drill recovery software. Connect the storage device to your Mac and the app will scan it and recover its lost files and folders.

How do I fix a corrupted file system on Mac?

You will probably need to format the storage device to fix a corrupted file system on a MAC. First, you should use Disk Drill to recover the data from the device. Then follow these steps to format the disk or drive.

  1. Connect the external device if necessary.
  2. Open Disk Utility on your Mac.
  3. Choose View > Show All Devices.
  4. Select the storage device you want to format and click the Erase button.
  5. Click the Scheme pop-up menu, then choose GUID Partition Map.
  6. Click the Format pop-up menu and select the file system format.
  7. Enter a name for the disk if desired.
  8. Click Erase and then Done.

More How To's on Mac file system recovery

How do I recover lost data?

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Thomas Pindelski Thomas Pindelski
Disk Drill has no detailed manual, nor is any needed, as there’s an excellent tutorial when you start the app, an evidencing of a very professional approach.
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You throw away a folder without checking its contents, or prematurely decide you won't need a certain file anymore. That's why you should consider using an application like Disk Drill; to protect you against yourself and the fancies of technology. Simon Slanger
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