On Tuesday one of my LaCie external hard drives died. I noticed there were fewer hard drive icons on my desktop (I have 4 external drives and a total of 7 partitions among them) but for the life of me, I couldn’t even remember what the two missing partitions were called, much less what data were on them. I know I have all the important stuff backed up, but it bugged me that I didn’t have the faintest idea of what was gone and what I needed to restore from my backups when I replaced the hard drive.

After repairing and rebooting my personal CPU (Cranial Processing Unit) using the tried and true Take-A-Nap app, I finally remembered what the partitions were and what was on them.

The drive has been replaced and restored, but I thought it would be useful to have an application that could generate a listing of what is on each of my hard drives. A Google search led me to DiskCatalogMaker (available from the Apple App Store or from Fujiwara Software). This is a $30 app that quickly generates a catalog of the contents of any disk or folder in a nice OSX Finder style format with a number of viewing options. You can save the catalog for future reference, and when you want to update the catalog for a disk, you can just open it and re-scan the disk contents.

I quickly found an even more helpful use for DiskCatalogMaker. It will also catalog CDs and DVDs in the Mac’s optical drive. It even has a batch scan feature so you can scan many disks one after another. Now I can generate a handy catalog of exactly what is on any backup or archived data CD or DVD, of which I have many. This means I don’t have to actually mount the backup disk to find out if it has the archived data I wish to find. In fact, the disk catalog files are indexed by Spotlight, so a Spotlight search will find exactly which disk catalog that the sought item is in, and DiskCatalogMaker also has its own powerful catalog searching.

Now if I could only find some sort of magic DiskCatalogMaker-like pill to help out the obviously failing RAM accessed by my Cranial Processing Unit.