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SpinRite 6 on MacOS External Drive

SpinRite 6 on MacOS External Drive

Using SpinRite on MacOS

Primarily marketed as a Windows/DOS utility, SpinRite is capable of reading and writing each sector of a hard drive, giving the user an idea of the lifespan left in a drive. In worst-case scenarios, Spinrite has been used to recover data.

Installation and use on a Mac, however, has been tricky, and hard to use. In this post I hope to simplify and provide concise instructions on how to install, use, and scan external drives.


  • Virtualbox (6.1)
  • SpinRite.iso
  • Hard Drive in need of scan

Set up Virtualbox

  1. Create a VMDK from the raw external drive We first need to create a .vmdk file that will provide us RAW access to our external drive. You’ll need to know the disk number (/dev/diskX) for the drive you want to use SpinRite on.

Create the vmdk by running the following command in your terminal:

sudo vboxmanage internalcommands createrawvmdk \
  -filename "/Users/$USER/Desktop/rawDisk.vmdk" \
  -rawdisk /dev/diskX

Be sure to replace /dev/diskX with your correct disk number.

  1. Virtualbox must be lauched as the root/sudo user:
sudo /Applications/

This will open up the Virtualbox GUI as the root user. Note: DO NOT USE THIS METHOD for running normal Virtual Machines! SpinRite needs low-level access that only sudo can provide.

Create a new DOS Virtual Machine

  • Click ‘New’
    • Name: Spinrite
    • Machine Folder: /var/root/VirtualBox VMs
    • Type: Other
    • Version: DOS
  • Memory Size: 32MB
  • Hard Disk: Do not add a virtual hard disk
    • VBox will warn you that you’re creating a VM without a HDD, Click Continue

Open the new VM’s Settings > Storage

  • Select “Controller: IDE” and choose the icon to “Adds a Hard Disk”
    • Choose “Add” from the top, then find and open the rawDisk.vmdk we created earlier on your desktop.
  • Click on the “Empty” CD-ROM drive, Click on the CD-ROM icon next to “Optical Drive” on the right side. Select Choose a disk file
  • Select the SpinRite.iso file made from SpinRite.exe

Run the VM

When you start the VM, SpinRite should automagically see the drive. Enter your SpinRite settings and let the magic happen.