Dealing with Mac OS X Volume Suffixes

| How-To

If the preference is set, our desktop shows us the names of all our mounted volumes. Lurking beneath the surface, however, some of those volumes can take on a strange set of numbered suffixes. It isn't a problem until another piece of software, say, a backup program sees these suffixes and causes confusion for both it and the user. Fortunately, these suffixes can be dealt with.

In the process of working with Prosoft Engineering's Data Backup 3 (for another article) I discovered that several of my volumes had multiplied into a set of volume names with numbered suffixes. I opened a terminal, did a 'cd /Volumes' then 'ls -la' and saw something alarming -- an explosion of suffixes for the volume Betelgeuse. (It's an external LaCie 1 TB drive via FireWire 800.)

d--x--x--x+  3 root  admin  102 Aug 29  2009 Betelgeuse       
d--x--x--x+  3 root  admin  102 Sep  7 21:32 Betelgeuse 1     
d--x--x--x+  3 root  admin  102 Sep 22 11:07 Betelgeuse 2
d--x--x--x+  3 root  admin  102 Sep 25 05:51 Betelgeuse 3
drwxrwxr-x  17 john  staff  646 Jan  9 16:05 Betelgeuse 4
drwxrwxr-x  21 root  admin  782 Mar  2 09:27 Canopus          
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  admin    1 Mar  4 17:28 Vega -> / 


Data Backup wanted to work with 'Betelgeuse 4' because that is the only real drive with data. The others are, well, ghosts. Prosoft Engineering surmised that these extraneous named volumes may have been the result of the drive being dismounted properly. Then, the snafu occurs at re-detection.

Independent of a possible cause, it is unnerving and uncomfortable to have one's drive schema blown up like this. I asked around, and full credit goes to my distinguished colleague Ted Landau who explained, at least, how to deal with this situation.

"I believe if you go to the /Volumes folder in the Finder, you will also see multiple copies of the drive listed. I actually found a reference to this issue in Mac OS X Help Line (page 571-2 of Tiger edition).

The solution is to delete all copies that have folder icons (you'll need to authenticate with admin/root access). Do not delete any that are aliases or that have drive volume icons.

To view /Volumes in the Finder, go to the "Go" menu and select "Go to Folder..." You'll get a dialog box. Enter "/Volumes" (without the quotes), and you'll see all your mounted volumes in a Finder window.

I started deleting 'Betelgeuse', 'Betelgeuse 1", "Betelgeuse 2" and so on because they had a folder icon, not a drive icon. Then I realized I should take a screen shot before they were all gone. Here it is.


Volume Suffixes in Finder

Finder view of /Volumes

I left 'Betelgeuse 4' alone because it has a genuine hard disk icon. Then I rebooted and Betelgeuse 4 became simply 'Betelgeuse' as nature and Mac OS X intended.

Once I had the volume names cleaned up, I felt better about my drive schema and proceeding with Data Backup 3 data sets.

Once again, full credit goes to Ted Landau here. I am just the messenger.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.



This is a real problem with Illustrator/InDesign where you place/link to other files on mounted server shares.

Let’s say your files are shared from a server on sharename ‘Files’. If you files open in Illustrator and your Mac disconnects from the ‘Files’ mounted share improperly, then a folder ‘Files’ is created in /Volumes along with path to currently open files which are saved to /Volumes/Files folder, giving to user the impression nothing is wrong.

However, the user likely needs to reconnect to the ‘Files’ share, which nows appears as ‘/Volumes/Files 2’.
Now when a user opens Illustrator files on the server and links files they will contain link paths that won’t work for other co-workers as they include ‘/Volumes/Files 2/....’.

has anybody found a robust way to detect and eliminate this problem?


Thanks for this very helpful post. I have my home directory on one of these drives that got duplicated after a crash, and when I restarted, my home directory had reset back to the default. My old folder was still on the volume but was no longer my home folder.

Found the problem when I went to try and set my home folder back to the original one, and after I’d selected it, it said OSX DATA 1 instead of OSX DATA.

Now however I don’t seem to be able to delete the leftover volume. I get the following error when I drag to the trash:

The operation can?t be completed because an unexpected error occurred (error code -8072).

I can’t delete via Terminal either:

chflags: /Volumes/OSX DATA: Permission denied

When I “Get Info” the file, it informs me that both system and admin have no access. I’ve set myself as the owner, doesn’t help.

Argh! But thanks for getting me on the right track.


Have finally managed to fix this. I couldn’t seem to update the permissions properly using Get Info or Terminal. I ended up downloading a very helpful app called TinkerTools System which allowed me to set the permissions correctly.

I tried again to drag the volume to the Trash, then got the message that the folder could not be moved to a subfolder of itself. It seems my system still thought that was my home directory. I logged out and logged in as another user, and was then able to successfully delete the volume. After logging back in as myself, everything was back to normal!

Thanks so much for this helpful post and hope my fix can help someone else.

Log-in to comment