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How to retrieve files from a drive needed to be re-formatted?

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jmcorn01

Healer - Although all these answers may work in some situations, the one thing I have noticed is that all of these suggestions are "potential solutions" but no one has asked for more information so they could actually help diagnose the problem. Which solution is best depends on what you are trying to fix. Using a hammer when you need a screwdriver is not very productive. Likewise, trying to use any piece of software to fix a broken cable connector is futile.

1st things first -
#1 - DO NOT FORMAT THE DRIVE!
Ignore all those people who have told you that formatting a drive will not hurt your data. Clearly they do not understand what the FORMAT command actually does. I assume you have formatted drives before & probably remember seeing the Warning dialog box that pops up saying that ALL data on the drive will be permanently erased if you continue. We are talking here about a "high-level" format performed by the existing operating system. The purpose of a high-level format is to set up the file structure that will be used (boot record, partition tables, sector markers, cluster sizes, mark bad sectors, etc) AND it is supposed to write a 0x255H to each location on the drive that will contain data.

#2 - Many drive tests ARE destructive. IF a drive test is NON-destructive, it is only testing to see if it can access and read each location. ALL thorough drive tests MUST write to the drive to test if the drive can be written. Every one I have ever seen warns you that the test IS destructive and any data WILL be lost. Be VERY careful which tests you run.

#3 - CHKDSK
Chkdsk is a very good disk utility. However, in almost every version of Windows Microsoft has changed the available parameters. I have seen reference to chkdsk /f which is not one of the available switches for Windows 7. Go to a cmd prompt and type "chkdsk /?" (without quotes) to see which switches are available in your version of Windows.

Now, Divide & Conquer.
As always, the place to start is to identify & isolate the source of the problem. Is the drive the problem or is it the USB case and/or cable?

To find out, remove the drive from the USB case and see if the problem still exists when the bare drive is connected directly to the computer's disk controller. Make sure you verify that the disk controller and any cables are in a known good state by connecting a known good drive. Also verify that the connector pins on the problem drive "look" OK (not missing or bent, etc). Once you have that answer, then you will know how to proceed.