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How to retrieve files transferred to an unformatted external hard drive

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May 2, 2011 2:34:59 PM

I installed a external USB hard drive with win 7 32 Professional, but carelessly :non:  :non:  :non:  did not format it prior to moving approx. 500 GB of media. I never got a msg to format until the drive was unplugged from windows explorer and I wanted to install it on another PC to transfer other media files. Now I can't transfer any files off (unrecognized file system). I finally accepted I was going to just have to format and re-transfer the files, but it won't even let me format the drive! How do I fix this? :cry: 
May 2, 2011 3:01:42 PM

sunshineday34683 said:
I installed a external USB hard drive with win 7 32 Professional, but carelessly :non:  :non:  :non:  did not format it prior to moving approx. 500 GB of media. I never got a msg to format until the drive was unplugged from windows explorer and I wanted to install it on another PC to transfer other media files. Now I can't transfer any files off (unrecognized file system). I finally accepted I was going to just have to format and re-transfer the files, but it won't even let me format the drive! How do I fix this? :cry: 


That is confusing. If the external drive was not formatted, it could not have a drive letter. If it doesn't have a drive letter, you can not move or copy anything to it. You can not even see it in Windows Explorer, literally. That is confusing, please clarify. Also, it is extremely unusual to see an external drive that is not formatted when it comes from the factory. You should not need to format it.

It is impossible to go back now and recreate the chain of events, but I think something else happened. You didn't say, but have you put the external drive back on the original computer? If not, try that.

You used the term "unplugged from windows explorer." Sorry to be picky, but it is important to get the terms right since we are only reading what is written, we have to intrepret it using terms that we know. Do you mean that you plugged the external drive into a machine that is running Windows 7? You can not "unplug" a drive from "Windows Explorer," there is no plugging and unplugging because that is software. If you mean you unplugged it from the computer's USB port, then I would ask: did you do an "eject" first? It is important to eject a USB drive before unplugging it.

Again, the terms are critical because we can't see the problem and because it is so hard to discuss back-and-forth in a forum.

If you really need to re-format the drive, plug the drive into the USB port.

click on:

Start
Control Panel
Administrative Tools
Computer Management
Storage
Disk Management (Local)
and you will see all the drives that are in the machine plus the external drive. You should see that the external drive has some kind of partition, or no partition at all. If there is a partition, delete it then create it again. If none, create a new one. Now format with NTFS. The drive should now be useable.
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May 9, 2011 1:29:14 AM

Sorry for the confusion! I have multiple people using their own lingo which can b confusing. When I first used the drive I followed the set up wizard and set up the backup partition, the power saver and the actual drive. I thought I was losing it when it started to ask me to format it. First when I set it up on my laptop and then my desktop when I tried to move it back. Prior to the msg to format it had been ejected. It had a drive letter on both computers. I think at this point there must be an issue with my win 7 because I received the same msg on the original PC. I was also asked for a different external drive to b formatted as well. Prior to this happening I had several win updates that had been done the day before. I'm not sure as I'm (as I'm sure u noticed!) Just entering the computer arena. I'm going to try your suggestion and hopefully I can get somewhere! Sorry for the clarification delay, I had a biz trip and just got back. I will let u know if it worked. Thanks!
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a c 289 G Storage
May 9, 2011 5:50:13 PM

It sounds as if the external drive once worked but does not any longer. This would probably be due to it being corrupted. If you repartition and reformat it it may work, but you will lose whatever data was on it. If you want that data back, this group has plenty of suggestions for utilities to try to recover the data from the drive.

Does this sound like your situation? Do you need what was on it?
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