Keys Out of Order on Mac Hard Drive

Question: The disk utility first aid program (that came on the 10.3 install CD) cannot repair a problem on my Macintosh hard drive. The error says “keys out of order.†What should I do?

The IT Guy says:
The Apple webpage Disk First Aid: What to Do When it Finds an Error recommends first booting from the system installation CD and running disk first aid, which you have already done.

Next it suggests using third-party disk repair utilities, but does not specifically identify any. I recommend Diskwarrior. You should be able to boot from the Diskwarrior CD and repair your disk problems.

Another possibility that does not require the purchase of third-party repair utilities is to use the “fsck†program which comes with OS X. The fsck program is a UNIX disk utility, but to use it you must boot up the computer in single user mode. This is a UNIX command line. These steps were described previously in my tip “Repairing Mac OS Xâ€. If your hard drive has been set to allow journaling, you may have to use an additional operator (-f) to force the fsck program to run. You may have to run fsck several times to successfully repair the problem.

For more detailed information about the fsck program, including techniques for using it to repair disk errors on a drive that is not the boot volume, refer to How To Run fsck To Examine A Non-boot Volume In Mac OS X.

If you are not able to repair problems with either a third party disk utility or the fsck program, you may have to try reinitializing (formatting) the hard drive, and reinstalling the operating system and all your programs. Hopefully you have recent backups of all data files, because if you reinitialize the drive all current data will be lost.

If you cannot reinitialize the drive and reinstall the OS, the hard drive may have an error that cannot be fixed with software tools. At this point it is advisable to purchase a new hard drive and replace the damaged one in your computer.

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