Old HFS+ drive in my NAS: how to recover data?

Hi, I’ve desperately looked everywhere for a way to do this the simple way, but can’t find anything that works.
My issue: trying to recover some data from an old drive (enclosure is dead) that is formatted in HFS+.

I do not have access to a new external enclosure, nor do I want to spend 100$ to buy a new one. I have loaded it in my Truenas server, and it is showing as healthy in S.M.A.R.T.

Now I understand Scale does not allow to mount HFS+ drives or recognize that fileformat, and trying to add it as a stripe (correct me if I’m wrong) zvol would thus mean deleting everything on it…

I originally planned to create a simple Debian VM, and passthrough the entire drive to that VM to mount there… But it seems passing through single drives is not possible, and only Zvols (or the entire HBA / PCIe sata controller) are available as options. This is not a solution for me, since the rest of my drives are on this controller.

I know it is unsafe, but my only purpose is to mount the drive, check if some of the files are relevant and need to be sent over to the NAS (or one of my other computers via SMB if needed), then erase everything and use this drive as a cozy cold spare for my main mirror pool.

I may have overlooked a simpler way to do this, but now that it is in my bay, it could be a good opportunity to learn new tricks… And test out along the way.

Once again, this is temporary, I understand there are risks, I just need a “quick and dirty” solution to browse and extract some data from this drive and be done with it.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can point me towards a solution (if possible, consider me a complete noob just for the sake of this).

HFS+? What on Earth…?

You really should just use a Mac to read that out, to the extent that it is possible.

So buy a USB/SATA bridge and use a Mac. They’re cheap and guaranteed to come in handy more than once.


I have not used that drive in years, I know how bad it looks…

There is no USB/SATA bridge, this is an HDD, thus needing additional power input. I have a SATA to USB-C adapter, but those don’t work on spinning disks sadly… Hence my quest for a sneaky way to mount it.

There must be one, as janky as it is, no?

Than you have a crap one. Any vaguely-decent bridge not aimed at M.2 SSDs will have a power input to support any SATA HDD. And depending on the HDD and USB port, that may even be unnecessary.

True, I would need something with power, like this:

Unfortunately I only have simple ones for SSD, because I never imagined I’d have to power a 3.5 HDD that way ever, especially when I have a NAS with empty disk bays lying around… :smiling_face_with_tear:

So the only way would be to open up one of my windows desktops, and put it there instead, really? I can’t believe I need to use a desktop computer for this, that’s sad…

Sad only if you expect that your NAS will be able to read and import data from any random filesystem you plug into it. Why do you expect this?


Again, you want a Mac for this. Nothing else is going to be particularly trustworthy with Apple’s weird filesystem(s). If it works at all.

Simply buying the adapter looks like the simplest solution.

In theory, if you could image the hd, into some Mac compatible image format, and then share it to a Mac, and then mount it on a mac…

Or to a zvol and share it to the Mac via iSCSI.

BUT that is a whole world of experimentation and hurt.

Or 17.99USD.


I believe HFS+ has “good enough” read support under Linux.

If so, you can boot into a Linux live ISO (such as Ubuntu), mount the filesystem, and rsync it to your TrueNAS server via SSH into its own dedicated dataset.

* You might have to install hfsprogs while in the live session.

apt install hfsprogs

Or use a “specialty” live Linux distro, such as PartedMagic (paid) or SystemRescue (free), which is meant to handle most anything you can throw at it.


I’d consider using an external drive dock like this one that costs between 20-30 bucks. It’s always useful to have a dock.

HFS+ is still supported in the current MacOS systems, you can also buy utilities on windows machines to read HFS+ volumes.

Once it’s available via the Mac, you can move the data to the NAS or better yet put in an archive before you make the move. I put all my old Mac stuff in various sparsebundles since it makes it much easier for the NAS to deal with them, especially if you use large record sizes.

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