How to Fix "Disk Utility can't repair this disk" Error?

By Molly | Posted to Mac Data Recovery on November 12th, 2019 |

Summary: What to do when Disk Utility or macOS can't repair this disk? You can check out the solutions in this post, or you can easily recover data from this corrupted drive with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

When a disk is not working properly on a Mac, most users would go to Disk Utility and run First Aid to repair this disk. However, the error message "Disk Utility can't repair this disk" error usually appears when First Aid fails to repair this disk. Though frustrating, but it doesn't mean you will necessarily lose all files. In this article, we will give you effective solutions to fix "Disk Utility can't repair this disk" issue, especially when you are facing the issue that Disk Utility can't repair external hard drive, or when Disk Utility can't repair Macintosh HD on Mac.

Help! Disk Utility can't repair this disk

You might be experiencing the same or similar situation as the user below.

I am in the midst of trouble where Disk Utility is failing to repair the drive. It gives me message "Error: Disk Utility can't repair this disk. Back up as many of your files as possible, reformat the disk, and restore your backed-up files". Now, what should I do to fix this error without losing data on my drive?

"Disk Utility can't repair this disk" is one of the messages you will receive when First Aid failed. Sometimes, it would be followed up with these error messages:

  • First Aid process has failed. If possible back up data on this volume. Click done to continue.
  • macOS can't repair this disk. You can open or copy files on this disk, but you can't save changes to files on this disk. Back up the disk and reformat it as soon as you can.
  • Disk Utility stopped repairing your disk. Disk Utility can't repair this disk. Back up as many of your files as possible, reformat the disk, and restore your back-up files.

What can you do in these situations to fix this issue without data loss? Keep reading.

Run First Aid to repair this disk again

One of the most tried and tested solution is to repair this disk one more time. To do First Aid again, follow these steps.

1. Go to Launchpad, find Other, and then launch Disk Utility.

2. Choose View and choose Show All Devices at the upper left of this app.

3. Select the disk or volume you want to repair in the left sidebar, and then click First Aid at the top.

Run First Aid to repair this disk again

4. Click Run to check and repair for disk errors.

If Disk Utility can't repair your disk still, or you receive a report that the First Aid process has stopped or failed, and it's asking for backing up and reformatting, you'd better firstly follow its suggestion to back up files on that disk to avoid further data loss.

How to back up or recover data when Disk can't repair this disk?

Method 1: Back up with Time Machine

There is a built-in tool on your Mac called Time Machine which can help you back up your files efficiently in this case. Here is how:

1. Connect an external storage device with enough free space to your Mac.

2. A notification will pop up and ask if you want to use this device to back up with Time Machine. Click on Use as Backup Disk and follow its on-screen instructions.

Method 2: Recover data from the disk that Disk Utility can't repair

If you don't have an extra external drive in hand or you can't back up files from that disk with Time Machine for some reasons, alternatively, you can recover files with reliable data recovery software, like iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery is professional data recovery software for Mac, which can recover data from internal hard drives, Macintosh HD, external hard drives, SD cards, USB flash drives, memory cards, memory sticks, etc. Also, when disk is formatted, unreadable, unmountable, unreadable, or unrecognizable, it can easily recover the lost files in these cases. What's more, this program can recover data from recover data from unmountable macOS partitions, encrypted APFS boot volume, etc.

Through only 4 steps, you can recover data from the disk that Disk Utility can't repair.

1. Download and install iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

2. Launch iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

Recover data from the disk that Disk Utility can't repair

3. Select the disk and click Next button to scan all lost data.

4. Preview the searching results, choose files you need, and click Recover to get them back.

How to fix 'Disk Utility can't repair this disk' issue on Mac?

Disk Utility can’t repair this disk

Method 1: Fix Disk Utility can't repair this disk error in Single User Mode.

If Disk Utility can't repair this disk, you can try to repair it by running FSCK command on Mac. FSCK is a powerful command line to verify and repair external hard drive in Terminal.

1. Restart your Mac and, before the Apple logo appears, hold down Command + S keys. This will boot your Mac into Single User Mode.

2. Type in:

/sbin/fsck -fy

3. If you see "File system was modified", then re-type in the command above again until you see "The volume _ appears to be OK".

4. To restart your Mac, type in:

reboot

Method 2: Fix Disk Utility can't repair this disk error by reformatting.

If you failed to fix the disk using Single User Mode, then, you have to reformat it just as Disk Utility suggested.

Warning: Reformatting will wipe all your files off this disk, so please make sure you have backed up your files with an external drive or have retrieved your files from this corrupted drive with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

1. Go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

2. Select the external hard drive and click Erase on the top.

Erase external hard disk

3. Provide a name and a format to format the drive.

4. Wait until the process finishes.

After reformatting this disk, you can restore your backed-up or recovered files to the disk again. If Disk Utility First Aid still failed on external hard drives, and you receive the information like "This drive has a hardware problem that cannot be repaired" on your iMac, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, you may need to send it to a local repair center or simply replace it with a new disk drive.

Bonus tip: You may not need to repair the disk in Disk Utility

In some cases, if an external drive is shared between a Mac and a Windows PC, you could receive the error message "Disk Utility can't repair this disk" as well. It's because when a USB drive is disconnected by yank out of the USB port, the disk may be busy in getting data settled down. As a result, the disk won't readable by Mac.

For instance, you have a disk that is formatted with FAT32, and you didn't unmount your disk properly when you remove it from your Windows PC. Then the whole volume will be marked as "busy" and you'll be prompted to repair the volume if you look at it in Mac's Disk Utility. However Disk Utility will fail to repair the volume, and report: File system check exit code is 8.

An easy workaround to this "Disk Utility can't repair the disk" issue in this situation is to simply plug this disk drive back into a Windows PC, and unmount it properly before plugging it into your Mac.

Note: If you are trying to repair your startup disk or startup volume with Disk Utility, you need to restart your computer and hold Command + R to boot into macOS Recovery mode. Then select Disk Utility in the macOS Utilities window and click Continue. If you want to check the Macintosh HD volume in macOS Catalina, please make sure you also check the Macintosh HD - Data volume.

Molly

Molly is an editor @iBoysoft who frequently shares useful tutorials about data recovery for Windows and Mac.

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