hard drive appears blank with external enclosure kit

By rrachac ·
First, I'm no tech (as you'll probably notice from this post).
Anyhow, our Toshiba laptop died -- problem with XP. It wouldn't boot up due to a problem with system32 or something like that. So, following the directions given for data retrieval elsewhere on this site, I bought an USB external hard drive enclosure. It's all set up and plugged in, but it appears to be completely empty.
How do I find my files? Is it possible I erased them somehow between removing the HD from the laptop and plugging it into the external enclosure?
Help! There are ~3 months of pictures of my son that I had not uploaded to our online storage that I'd really like to have.

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Let me talk you off the edge :)

by Tig2 In reply to hard drive appears blank ...

The most likely reason that your drive appears empty is that the files that are living on it don't "belong" to you according to the OS.

Come back with some additional information, one of us will get you sorted. We will need to know what hardware and OS you are currently using at a minimum.

Breathe. Just nice deep breaths. This can be worked out. :)

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OK... Thanks!

by rrachac In reply to Let me talk you off the e ...

Um... All right. Hardware:
The HD is a Hitachi Travelstar 60GB, 4200RPM. I'm going to include the model numbers *just in case*. Model #IC25N060ATMR04-0. The external enclosure is a Dynex USB 2.0, model #DX-HDEN20.
Desktop runs XP Media Center Version 2005 and the laptop that crashed ran XP pro.
Also, please feel free to assume that you're dealing with a complete moron and keep things as simple as you can. Trust me, it's a very safe assumption here.
Thanks so much in advance!!

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by rrachac In reply to OK... Thanks!

I'm not sure if this helps clear up what the problem is, but my computer recognizes the external disk, gives it a name (f:), but shows that the disk is completely empty. No files or folders appear when I click on the disk from "my computer" or from the "disk management" screen under administrative tools in the control panel.
Thanks again!

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OK open up My Computer right click on the F Drive

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to also...

And then on Proprieties and see how big Windows is claiming that the drive actually is.

If you are being shown 60 GIG of empty space the most likely thing to have happened is that the MBR's got damaged when the computer crashed.

Provided that you handled the drive gently between removing it and fitting it to the Caddy No You Can Not Have Damaged It! Well at worst case this is highly unlikely.

But if you get a really strange Size in the HDD Proprieties post back and we'll work from there.

Just another thought here have you got both of the USB Plugs plugged into USB Ports on the NB?


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you guys are really great...

by rrachac In reply to OK open up My Computer ri ...

The drive shows that there are 55.8GB available (66.2MB used). That's not all 60 available, so hopefully that's a good thing...
And yes, I do have both the USB cables plugged in. Thanks!
So where do we go now??

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Data Recovery Software

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to you guys are really great ...

By the sounds of things this drive has been deleted and reformatted so that you need to use some Data Recovery Software to recover your files which are still there but not in the Map at the Start of the drive so they don't appear.

What type of files are you currently missing as this will make the choice of Data Recovery Software easier?

By the sounds of things here some basic Recovery means have been run and as such my favourite software will be unsuitable which is probably a good thing for your hip pocket as it's not cheap.

Probably the best alternative for a beginner here is Davory from X Ways it costs about 40 Euros but don't quote me exactly on that figure as I'm not really sure that's just a guide post figure. You can download a trial which will recover the first 200K of any file from here to see if it will work

But there are a few things to remember with things like this. When you are attempting to recover data you never write anything to the HDD with the Data that you want recovered is on as you run the risk of overwriting some of the data and making it horrendously expensive to recover so install Davory onto the Boot Drive of your NB if I remember correctly and plug in the USB Caddy and tell Davory that you are recovering from F Drive to a Folder that you make on the C Drive I call these something like Data Recovery 1 or something similar, but you can call it anything that you like just remember never to write anything to the F Drive. You will also need plenty of spare space on your NB HDD so that you can store all the recovered files and then sort through them removing any that are incomplete or otherwise damaged. Might be a good idea to run the Disc Compression Utility first to make sure that you don't run out of room too quickly. To do this open My Computer right click on the C Drive and then left click on Proprieties and on the bottom Left Hand side add a Tick to the Box that says compress. You'll be asked about a few running files which can not be altered so select Ignore All to these and just let the unit run and compress the drive so you have more space to work with.

With Davory you have 2 options if you know the name of the file you can tell Davory to recover Ken's Birthday.jpg to where ever or you can do a search by File Type so you can search and recover by the file extensions used so the first would probably be .DOC .JPG .GIF or whatever files you want to search for.

Unfortunately while this will recover these files it will not pickup the Names or Date Stamps so all you'll get is whatever File type numbered from 0 up to whatever the upper limit is.

If you want to, all your E-Mail is most likely easy to recover as all you would need do is tell Davory to recover In Box.pst for Outlook or In Box.dbx for Outlook Express Files then work your way through every folder that you have listed in your E-Mail.

It gets harder with Word Processor or Pictures or any other document unless you have a specific name to look for so many people recover by File Type and then sort out the mess latter. When I run recover by File Type I make a sub Folder inside the main Folder and just call it the File Type name so there would be .DOC. .WPD .JPG .PDF and so on till every file type is covered. It's slow and time consuming but it works and it's cheap so unless you want to spend thousands at a Data Recovery House this will work for you.

I hope that is of some help to you and if you like Davory you can buy it On line and all you need do is add a Activation Key and you can recover the full file but it's a slow process when you have lots of different file types.

If you need any help click on Send Message at the bottom of this post and I can contact you direct with any information that you may need.

OH BTW I'll have you know that I'm supposed to be arrogant and drive people away from here because I tell them it like it is and don't sob over their hand crying with them because they messed up. Which isn't the case here but some expect to get free advice and have their hand held as well.


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