Dealing with Mac OS X Volume Suffixes

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.