External usb laptop hard drive

Hello there,
I was wondering if anyone has had the problem I'm having, i have laptop hard drive which I've conected to my computer, the hard drive is running vista, but crashed, my computer the main one is xp. XP will show the hard drive but hangs when i try to access it, so I tried connecting it to my laptop which runs vista.
when connected I get message from windows that its ready to use, however its not listed in my computer, but if i got through device manager its there.
How do i access the details from it, as this drive no loner boots, the laptop says its there, but doesnt show it and xp wants me to reformat it which I seriously dont want to do, as it complicates the recovering data process?
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  1. The problem you are having is a failed hard-drive, I'd say a million people have had this issue before you, so yes to your first question.

    As far as getting access to the files, you'd need to run a recovery software like recuva to try to read the drive and files. A bad drive with a messed up file system will have the issues you are seeing about Windows wanting to format it before use.
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