So my laptop died recently (I think the power supply), and I've been trying to recover data from the hard drive by using a sata to USB cable connected to a Windows 8 computer. The trouble I've been having is that windows recognizes the drive, but can't read it and says it needs to be formatted due to "unknown file system". As far as I know, there's nothing wrong with the drive, and after using testdisk, I didn't find any problems. On a side note, there seems to be something strange with the connection; the reformat popup appears four or five times and the D: drive intermittently appears and disappears at random over the course of a few seconds.
At this point, I'm wondering if I should format the drive and use a program to attempt to recover the files, or if it would be better to try something else before that. Any ideas?
Thanks for the suggestions. I'm attempting to transfer the data to another laptop, so I don't really have access to the internals to bypass the usb option. I tried it again half an hour ago, and it looks like the disconnecting problem I was having is gone. I've got the adapter I'm using plugged into a wall socket, so I don't think power is the issue. I tried using Recuva, but when I go anywhere near the D:\ drive, it still tells me I need to format it to be able to use it.
I'm not familiar with the process of recovering files after a harddrive has been formatted; would anyone strongly recommend against allowing my computer to format the drive then attempting a recovery afterward? Currently it's the only option I'm aware of. (Though I'll try connecting it to an older desktop at some point later tonight to see if I get any different results there).
It sounds like your drive really gets some problems. If the other ways really make no difference, you may try to format this drive and rescue all your stored files with a data recovery program, especially some data recovery freeware like 4Card Recovery, Recuva, TestDisk and more.
Moreover, after experiencing this trouble, I hope you should never store everything important data on only one drive in the future. Of course, if you do not have enough external drives to back up important data,you also can try to save some copies online, such as the iTunes, Clouds and more.