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Can't read external hard drive


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6 replies to this topic

#1 Fex

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 06:59 PM

I have a hard drive which contains data which was written to it on another machine running Windows XP. Today, I mounted the drive in a case and plugged it into my laptop, which is running Windows 7. At first, the drive opened, and showed the files. When I tried to copy them to another drive, the process hanged, and I cancelled it. After that, I couldn't get the laptop to recognize the drive, and turning it on made the whole system hang until it was switched off again. Finally, I realized that it might help if I changed the jumper settings to slave the drive. DOH! Thing is, now the drive is recognized, and the system is running fine, but when I attempt to open the drive, I get an error message:

"You need to format the disk in drive M: before you can use it."

When I cancel, I get

"M:\is not accessible.

The volume does not contain a recognized file system,
Please make sure that all required file system drivers are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted."

Under Disc Management, the file type is shown as RAW.

I've rebooted. I've changed the drive label. I've tried recovery software. I've almost given up.

Thing is, I know the laptop can use the drive - it was doing it earlier. So, what do I have to do to get it to read it now?

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#2 jhayz

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 11:13 PM

Check it on another working computer.

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#3 Fex

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 05:56 AM

Other computer is a desktop running XP. It slows to a crawl, takes several minutes to acknowledge the drive, and, when I try to open it, it says
"The disk in drive K is not formatted.
Do you want to format it now?"

No, I don't!

#4 AustrAlien

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 05:09 PM

The disk file system is likely corrupted, and Windows is having trouble reading it.

I take it that you wish to:
  • Retrieve data from the external hard drive ... and then ...
  • Format it to be able to use it normally once again.
    Is that correct?
Data recovery from a difficult situation (for example a failing hard drive or badly corrupted disk file system) is best done with the ailing hard drive attached directly to a computer's motherboard, rather than attached via USB connection. The USB connection is susceptible to data corruption and limits "readability".

If possible, connect the ailing hard drive directly to the motherboard of a desktop PC ("internal" secondary) and try the following suggestions. The first suggestion is to try booting from a Linux CD or flashdrive to see whether or not you can see and access your files, and simply copy them to an external USB hard drive or flashdrive (or another internal hard drive). This may not be possible: If that is the case, then the second suggestion is to attempt data recovery using TestDisk, again run from a bootable Linux CD or flashdrive.

If it is not possible for you to connect the ailing hard drive directly to a PC, then you can try accessing and copying the data while it is connected via USB, but the chances of success are somewhat less.

I will post instructions for you to try the first part of the suggestion, assuming you have the problematic hard drive connected directly to the motherboard of your desktop PC. Let me know what happens.

(Note: Instructions were written for the situation where the ailing hard drive is the one containing the operating system, where the computer is no longer bootable and the files need to be recovered. Hence the "working computer" and the "ailing computer" references. In this case, the files are being copied to an external hard drive or flashdrive.) Please adapt the instructions to your own particular circumstance.

Suggestion 1: Use a LIVE Linux operating system run from a bootable CD or flashdrive to access and copy/retrieve files on the hard drive to a USB-connected flashdrive or external hard drive.

There are many options, but here are detailed instructions for one method ...

Download GETxPUD.exe to the desktop of your working computer
  • Run GETxPUD.exe
  • A new folder will appear on the desktop.
  • Open the GETxPUD folder and click on get&burn.bat
  • The program will download xpud_0.9.2.iso, and when finished will open BurnCDCC ready to burn the image.
    Please be patient: This could take awhile - download file size 63MB.
  • Click on Start and follow the prompts to burn the image to a CD.
You will use this CD to boot the ailing computer from.

Backup your important files to an external media using xPUD:
  • Connect your external hard drive or flashdrive.
  • Boot the ailing computer to the xPUD CD.
    A Welcome to xPUD screen will appear.
  • Click on File.
  • Expand the mnt icon on the left (click on the little arrow beside the icon).
    • sda1, sda2 etc. ...usually correspond to your HDD partitions
    • sdb1, sdc1 is likely to correspond to a USB flashdrive, external USB hard drive etc.
  • Copy your important files to an external hard drive or flashdrive.
    • Open your hard drive partition and navigate to the files/folders that you wish to copy.
    • Select multiple files/folders by holding down the <CTRL> key and selecting them all.
    • Use right-click > Copy
    • Navigate to your external media, and in the right-side window pane, use right-click > Paste.
To shut down the computer:
  • Home > Power off
Success?
AustrAlien
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#5 AustrAlien

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 01:14 AM

Please try the fix offered by jenae here at Tech Support Forums before doing what I suggested in my previous post. Please let me know if the "Infcache.1 fix" is successful in your case.

Vista and Seven store external devices INF details in a file called Infcache.1 This can become corrupt and some or all USB devices will not be recognized.


Thank you.
AustrAlien
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#6 Fex

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 07:49 PM

Infcache.1 fix didn't work.
Will attempt previous suggestion.
Cheers.

#7 AustrAlien

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 09:56 PM

I didn't expect that it would.

Let me know whether or not you can access the drive and all your files using xPUD.
AustrAlien
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