How to repair external drive without losing data

Hello,
my external hard drive is saying i need to format it when i plug it in have i lost all my material that was on there?
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More about repair external drive losing data
  1. Try TestDisk, it has worked great for me before.

    http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk
  2. crack it open and take out the hdd plug in in ur esata orsata or ide and see what it says then could be a faulty controller
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