Is my Hard drive gone?

I have a 750GB external hard drive with an NTFS partition connected to my computer through USB. I have pictures and home videos from several vacations that are the most important to me. When I got home from my recent vacation and turn on my computer I see that my external hard drive (Z:/) is not accessible.

I'd usually ask my ex but we're not talking anymore. He installed Linux in my computer and when I go there I can see the external drive and several files I can see and open but the majority I cant open and some pictures you can only see like the top or bottom half cause the rest is black. The same thing happens when I plug the drive to my macbook pro.

I'm using Windows 7 and I opened partition magic and it shows me that Z:/ is in RAW format. I can't error check or defrag Z: because its not accessible and windows wants me to format even though I know theres a lot of my data in the drive.

How can I recover all my photos and home videos?
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  1. I'd suggest you get a new drive, and use Linux to copy everything you can over on to it. You can use something like the Ultimate Boot CD to check the drive for errors once you've extracted as much as you can, but it does sound like the drive has some significant errors...
  2. Hi there,

    Since you are funning Win-7, and this is not your system drive, why not run Chkdsk /r or run it from the GUI?

    Double click on Computer, right click on this USB mass storage device, choose Tools, then Error Checking, Check Now. Check Automatically Fix File Errors, and Scan and Attempt Recover of Bad Sectors.

    You don't have to reboot to run the applilcation on a secondary disc, and it may correct problems on the HDD.
  3. John, Windows says it can't access the drive when I try for error checking.

    Davel, I'll try to do that though I'm not familiar with it. :)
  4. If you use the File manager style interface of Linux, it should be very much like working under windows - select the files and copy to the new disk. (If you need to format the disk, do this under Windows where you are more familiar with things, and it should be fine under Linux)
  5. Hi Daniela,

    Davel's idea is a good one - copying the data outside of windows to a new HDD.

    Couple other diagnostic things you could do to check out this ext HDD in the meantime

    Look in the Device Manager when the ext HDD is connected and see if the OS recognizes it correctly there and that there is no yellow triangle with exclamation point indicating trouble. Double click on the USB Drive listed there to look at it's properties. Under General it should say "this device is working properly". That gives you info about the hardware and the driver.

    Also go the Disk Management, and see if the Z drive is listed correctly in the bottom section -
    The Disk ID should read Disk 1, Basic, Online. The File Info just to the right should read "File Name" (Z:) 750GB NTFS: Healthy (Primary Partition)

    If different, share what it says.

    Also in Win-7, click on Devices and Printers. See if the USB drive is there. If there is a yellow traingle next to it, you can right click and choose troubleshoot, to have Windows use one of its troubleshooting wizards try to identify the problem.
    Don't reformat the HDD, since that would wipe out all the data you have on the drive.

    You didn't give the model # of the ext drive, or if you installed a SATA HDD in a case with a USB connection. Some of the commercial ext drives have an ext SATA port which you could try to r/o the USB interface as the problem. If the case opens, you could connect the HDD directly to your computer to see if it works properly that way.

    None of these steps will jeopardize wha't on the HDD, just hardware troubleshooting
  6. If you are lucky, only the USB interface died and the drive is OK. Worst comes to worst, you can remove the drive drive from the USB enclosure, connect it directly to a desktop computer, and try to recover the files.

    That also will not affect the files stored on the hard drive.
  7. Hi again Daniela,

    There are several posts that discuss an NTFS file system being reported as RAW in the past. It appears that there is a change in the File System so that Windows 7 doesn't read the File system properly and reports it as RAW. Reformatting it with NTFS of course causes loss of all the data.

    There is no logical reason I am aware of, but the reports say if you connect the external HDD to a XP system, it will read the HDD correctly, and you can copy all the data off to a safe location. Others have then - reformatted the RAW drive back to NTFS and recopied their "stuff" back to the drive, but I'd just get a new external HDD and use it.

    Worth a try. Plugging it into a friend's XP box to see if it can be recognized properly is non destructive, and it doesn't cost anything

  8. Hi

    I got the same problem. I have a 880 gb Seagate usb hard drive. I have plenty valuable files on it. Now I can not access the files, but I can see the file directory in Windows explorer most of time, even though Windows explorer takes a lengthy time to discover it. When I try to open a file, computer takes a few minutes telling me the request can not perform because of I/O error. I have tried on various computers and cables. I use error checking from drive property, it takes me no where too. In the Disk manager, the drive sometimes showing healthy, the other times showing unallocated. In the command line, chdsk shows the drive is RAW. I used Testdisk, PhotoRec, ZAR,EasyUs, all of them can not recover my files. I tried in XP using dskprobe, it seems not mounting as well. The weird thing is when I handed the disk to the vendor, he plugged in his desk top, the files could be opened nicely! Then I think my disk may be recoverable. But then I tried a few computers, the files are not accessible again. Can anyone help please?
  9. Hi there,

    Sounds like your HDD is failing (almost failed!) If the pro shop computer was able to see the data, you may still have a chance to copy the data to a good HDD for safe keeping.

    The last thing to try is to take the HDD (probably a SATA drive) out of the USB container, and connect it directly to your computer, to remove the USB interface and cable as possible problems. Have a good HDD available to copy the files to if you are successful.

    It may be that randomly you can still access the data files before it gives up the ghost, same as at the pro shop.
  10. I gave up. I tried everything you guys mentioned and nothing worked :(
    I formatted the drive to a mac os x extended journaled to use on my laptop. Hopefully its more reliable than stupid ntfs. :)
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