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Now this is a piece of software no Mac user should be without. I can't count the number of occasions that this has saved my life.
There are a lot of occasions where an external hard drive will become corrupted and refuse to mount or appear in Disk Utility. If it doesn't appear in Disk Utility, you can't use the Repair Disk function to fix it so you might think that your only solution is to wipe the whole disk, losing all of your data in the process.
DiskWarrior can detect disks that Disk Utility can't and it will scan them for errors (you'd be surprised how many errors even an operational hard drive has) and repair them, bringing the drive back into operation again and saving your data. The only times that the software has failed to work for me were when drives had physical damage and obviously the software can't do anything about that.
It's not free but you have to ask yourself how much you would lose if your data was destroyed. It is available here
for $99.95 and it is well worth it.