8 Replies Latest reply: Jun 28, 2013 2:09 PM by greg engel
greg engel Level 1 (0 points)

Hi everybody, I've got a Mac Pro 2008 early 2008 and I'm trying to erase a disk ( with disk utility ) which I recuperated from my dead time capsule but It's impossible -each time the same message " disk erase failed with error : couldn't unmount disk". What should I do ???

Mac Pro early 2008, Mac OS X (10.5.6)
  • Kappy Level 10 (265,676 points)

    Try this procedure.


    Drive Partition and Format


    1. Boot from your OS X Installer Disc. After the installer loads select your language and click on the Continue button.  When the menu bar appears select Disk Utility from the Utilities menu.


    If you are preparing an external or a non-startup drive, then open Disk Utility in your Utilities folder.


    2. After DU loads select the hard drive (this is the entry with the mfgr.'s ID and size) from the left side list. Note the SMART status of the drive in DU's status area.  If it does not say "Verified" then the drive is failing or has failed and will need replacing.  SMART info will not be reported  on external drives. Otherwise, click on the Partition tab in the DU main window.


    3. Under the Volume Scheme heading set the number of partitions from the drop down menu to one. Click on the Options button, set the partition scheme to GUID then click on the OK button. Set the format type to Mac OS Extended (Journaled.) Click on the Partition button and wait until the process has completed.


    4. Select the volume you just created (this is the sub-entry under the drive entry) from the left side list. Click on the Erase tab in the DU main window.


    5. Set the format type to Mac OS Extended (Journaled.) Click on the Security button, check the button for Zero Data and click on OK to return to the Erase window.


    6. Click on the Erase button. The format process can take up to several hours depending upon the drive size.


    Steps 4-6 are optional but should be used on a drive that has never been formatted before, if the format type is not Mac OS Extended, if the partition scheme has been changed, or if a different operating system (not OS X) has been installed on the drive.

  • greg engel Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi Kappy, thank you very much for your answer. After the third step of the procedure you advise me I've got a message: " partition failed with error: couldn't unmount disk". What do you think?

  • Kappy Level 10 (265,676 points)

    How do you have this drive connected? Is it internal or external? I'm sort of guessing the former give where you got it.


    I've done this in the past with varying success:


    With Disk Utility open select the volume entry below the disk entry (be sure you are not selecting your startup drive.) Click on the Unmount icon in the DU toolbar. If the drive unmounts then try the procedure again picking up at Step 3. You can do this when booted from your startup drive, btw.


    If this does not work, then open the Terminal in your Utilities folder. At the prompt enter:


    diskutil list


    Press RETURN. You should see a listing in the window of the disks and volumes connected. Adjust the window size if need be. Locate the lines for this old Time Capsule drive.


       #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER

       0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *1.0 TB     disk0

       1:                        EFI                         209.7 MB   disk0s1

       2:                  Apple_HFS Macintosh HD            356.8 GB   disk0s2

       3:                 Apple_Boot Recovery HD             650.0 MB   disk0s3

       4:                  Apple_HFS Mountain Lion Test      80.3 GB    disk0s4

       5:                 Apple_Boot Recovery HD             650.0 MB   disk0s5

       6:                  Apple_HFS Mountain Lion           431.7 GB   disk0s6

       7:                 Apple_Boot Recovery HD             650.0 MB   disk0s7


    Write down the disk Identifier of the Time Capsule disk, like disk1s2, for example. Now enter:


    diskutil unmount force disk_identifier


    Press RETURN. Substitute the actual disk identifier you wrote down for the parameter in italics above.

  • greg engel Level 1 (0 points)

    It is connected as an internal drive but it's not going be a startup drive.I clicked the unmount icon but the message appeard

    "The disk “Time Capsule ” could not be unmounted. Make sure that all applications and files are closed on this disk"

    I think I 'll try with terminal as you wrote.

  • greg engel Level 1 (0 points)

    I received a message from terminal

    "Volume Time Machine Backups on disk5s2 force-unmounted

    greg-engels-Mac-Pro-3:~ gregengel06$ "


    but i still cannot erase or partition the disk, the same message

    Partition failed with the error:



    Couldn’t unmount disk.

  • Kappy Level 10 (265,676 points)

    So, then, the disk still appears on your Desktop and in Disk Utility? I would have to guess there is a major problem with the drive itself.

  • greg engel Level 1 (0 points)

    Yes, it is still on my desktop. I agree with you that it can be a problem with the drive itself. Thank you very much for your time Kappy.

  • greg engel Level 1 (0 points)

    You're great. I restarted my mac and IT WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!.Thank you very much for your help Kappy. Bye.