How to access my external harddrive without having to format?

By KamenRiderBagua ·
I recently used AVG PC Tuneup 2011 to check my external harddrive for errors and it found a few and corrected them, but now I cannot access my external harddrive without it asking me to format it before I can use it.

I really cannot afford to lose anything on there as its a 500 GB Toshiba Hard Drive, and I have about 350 GB worth of information I cannot lose, and my laptop is my only computer and it only has 50 GB worth of space to spare.

May someone please help me fix my external hard drive so I do not have to format it? I'd really appreciate all the help I can get.

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Well if you really can not afford to loose the data

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to How to access my external ...

The correct response is to pack up the drive send it to a Specialist Data Recovery Company and pay them to recover your Data.

If you unsuccessfully mess with the drive all you will achieve is making it far more expensive and less likely to be able to recover 100% of the Stored Data for an acceptable cost.

While it is always possible to recover everything that has ever been written to the HDD it involves dismantling the drive coating the platters with some special goup and then sticking the platters into a special machine to read them and it only costs about 1.5 Million to do. The reality is that other than the Authorities Real People can not afford to do things like that and rely on what can be easily recovered. The less Easy that the recovery is the more it costs.

However if it would just be Nice to recover your lost data and here you need to remember that there are only 2 types of Computer Users Those who have lost all of their Data and those who are going to loose all of their data shortly and you can afford to loose your Data you can attack the drive with some Data Recovery Software or even attempt to rebuild the Partition Tables by using the Check Desk Utility supplied in your OS. Note Generally speaking running Check Disc is fairly harmless but here it all depends on how IMPORTANT that the data recovery actually is. If there are Grand Kids Photos involved you can afford to loose those but if there is Financial Data from a company and you are facing a Tax Audit you Can Not afford to loose that so you should Do Nothing tot he drive and send it directly to the Recovery Specialists.

Also External HDD are not very reliable they live in adverse conditions where they get very hot are quite often subject to vibration both of which Kill Mechanical Hard Disc Drives very quickly so you need to understand that relying only on one External Drive is a Recipe for Disaster. That drive is going to fail and you should believe that it will fail sooner rather than latter and it will fail when it is most needed.

Of course the longer it is run the sooner it will die so you need to take that into account. I've touched External Drives in Metal Cases which have been left running 100% of the time and actually burnt my fingers on the Cases, needless to say drives in those positions had a life expectancy of only a few months.


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As the wise Col above says

by robo_dev In reply to How to access my external ...

The best move is to engage a specialist to help. The more you fiddle with it, the more likely the data will be lost permanently.

If this were my device, I would try several things:

1) take the raw drive out of the enclosure and try it in another enclosure on another PC

2) download and run the manufacturers SMART diags on the drive. If if is failing diagnostics and has somethng very wrong, like a head that fell off, then only a technician in a white suit in a clean room can fix that sort of thing.

3) Make a forensic copy, a sector-by-sector copy of the drive to another drive of the same capacity

On the COPY drive, then fiddle with some utilities, such as the EASUS set of drive utilities, or simply booting up a Linux distribution such as the UBCD or Hirens Boot CD and determine if the data is readable or not.

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If, as they say above

by Sue T In reply to How to access my external ...

the data would be nice to have then what I have found to work sometimes is to connect the external to a computer running linux and copying the data to that computer and then reformatting the external and putting the data back. You may not have access to a computer running Linux so you could try using a linux live CD and booting to that. Since you don't have much room on your computer hard drive you would need to attach another storage device so you would have some place to copy the data to.

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If the drive spins..

by ryanito25 In reply to How to access my external ...

Try taking apart the casing, so that you extract a normal hard drive. Order online or go to a computer store like Micro Center and spend about $30 on a Universal Drive Adapter. Connect the drive to the cable, then the cable to a computer, and see if it reads.

In most cases, what you're describing is often referred to as a "dirty disc," which is essentially a corrupted Master Boot Record.

Good luck

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