External Hard Drive Not Formatted Error

By wcprofits ·
I have a Seagate 160 GB External Hard Drive that I've been using for about 2 years or so. Recently, I ran into a problem accessing it. When I turn it on, Windows assigns it a letter and I can see it under My Computer like normal, but then when I click on it, it says the drive is not formatted and asks me if I want to format it. I assume reformating it would erase all of te information I have on it so I didn't do it. I tried plugging it into a different usb port and i tried plugging it into my other computer, which is a Sony with Window XP, and it still didn't work. The computer I'm using is a Hp with Windows XP.

I downloaded a program called Test Disk which is made to find damaged partitions and read the drive. The harddrive has no partitions though, its just one big drive. I had the program display the list on the drive and all the folders and files appear to still be on the hard drive. The TestDisk program also came with a data recovery program. I started using it to recover the files, it estimated about 16 hours to move the files. After about 1 hr 40 min., I stopped it. It had recovered 366 files, all music files except for 2, but when I looked at the folder it was putting the files in, all the file names had been changes to f########. This wouldn't really be that big of a deal for my pictures, but I also have hundreds of cds worth of music on there, and more importantly, I make music in a sequencing program, and I use this hard drive to keep all my audio samples in. Without the folders and filenames, all of my samples are useless.

I think I know what caused the problem. I usually turn off the hard drive when I'm done with it and I didn't know that I'm suposed to click the little button in the bottom right of the screen before turning off the drive. I found the problem at Seagate's help site:
It tells what can cause the problem, and what to do to keep it from happening again, but it does not tell how to fix it. I'm basically looking for a program that will read the hard drive and allow me to copy all the files and folders to a different hard drive without losing the names and folders. I don't really wanna spend a lot of money for this, but I need the files so I'm hoping for something as cheap as possible but whatever will work. Any suggestions?

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All Answers

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by CookieOrc In reply to External Hard Drive Not F ...

Boot using a linux live cd... Use Ubuntu. This will autmount the drive then open it and copy all the infomation to your computer HD or another external drive...

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While the Linux Option should work if the Partition Information isn't

by OH Smeg In reply to LINUX!

Damaged I'm betting that it is by turning off the drive incorrectly.

What you need is a Application that can rebuild the Partition like On Tracks Recovery Program which is expensive but effective.

If you have enough use for this application I would suggest that you get yourself a copy as you'll be able to rebuild the drive within a few minutes it's available from here

And you want the Easy Recovery Professional

If you want something cheaper and slower you can use Spin Rite available here

You really should Read The Manual to prevent this from happening as it's very expensive & time consuming to recover from.


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same problem

by michaelrobbo15 In reply to External Hard Drive Not F ...

i have the exact same problem done teh exact same thing
but only with a seagate 320gb hardrive. if anyone could
help please let us know

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Successfully solve "drive not formatted error" - Detailed Tutoril

by Saraline In reply to same problem

A corrupt or missing boot sector will cause such kind of problem.

To fix the boot sector, you may refer to

If it still can not be solved, you have to recover all the data out and then format the partition as the system indicates so that you can enter the partition again.

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external hard drive- reformat error message

by empface In reply to same problem

did you ever figure out how to solve the problem of your external hard drive crashing?
i have a maxtor 500gb. and after getting the blue screen reboot, i cant access that drive, always getting the message: want to reformat the drive?
thanks much,

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by nj908nj In reply to External Hard Drive Not F ...

Hi, I also have the same drive and problem. I went away for Thanksgiving and when I returned I can't see any of the files and it says it's not formatted. I have a lot of creative files I can't lose. Did you ever find a way to recover the files?

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I have several of these

by Dr Dij In reply to External Hard Drive Not F ...

a couple of the seagate 300's and a 160g.

the only time they fried is when power outage cause them to go off while still open under windoze. Suggestion: get a cheap UPS ($60) for the hard drive to supplement the one on your PC (two if you don't have one on your PC)

While I could still see (most?) of the files, I was using it as a backup and could see that the disk free space was reporting wrong.

Had to reformat this and re-backup onto it.

Lesson: get 2nd one and use it as backup to 1st if you're not using the 1st as a backup.
They are dirt cheap now and rock solid. I was using one for a long time to actually edit humongo 100 to 500 meg .PPTs.

Worked fine but took quite a while to save (recovery autosave was onto local disk). SO I finally got to putting in a 750g disk - only $250 and use the 300's as backups.

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Seagate external drive just crashed!

by icelandicrider In reply to External Hard Drive Not F ...

I had the same exact thing happen to me. Any luck w/ finding a solution?

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Mine got fixed

by nj908nj In reply to Seagate external drive ju ...

But I don't know how! I had the same problem and I used the free program where you can create a partition (even though I didn't know what I was doing going through the various screens), but it didn't immediately fix it and it was still not accessible for a few days. Then, about 2-3 days later I noticed my external drive was accessible again, but I don't know how it happened.

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Solution to recover photos!!!!

by icelandicrider In reply to External Hard Drive Not F ...

Check out They have a photo rescue program that is incredible. I have tried three. This one not only worked but is cheap!!!!! SO PSYCHED! Good luck.

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