External Hard Drive Formatting

Sorry if this may be a noob question, but I was running a backup of Windows 7 on my external Hard Drive when the power went out (it was around 95% complete). Now, when I try to access my external hard drive it tells me that I need to format the disk before I can use it. I understand that I'll lose all of my files in the external hard drive when I do this. Is there a way for this not to happen and is this a common Windows 7 problem that can easily be resolved, or is it a problem with my hard drive? If you can please explain a possible solution for this to me in layman's terms (I'm quite the noob in computer stuff) I would appreciate it. I've got about 700GB worth of files in the hard drive that I don't want to lose.
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  1. Have you tried just continuing the backup the same way you started it? it might recognize files that are already on the drive and just ignore them (or over wright them).

    Would formatting and starting over be so bad?
  2. Yeah, I tried to continue the backup but it states I need to format the hard drive as soon as I connect it to my computer. Admittedly, of that 700GB of data, only maybe 10GB of it is "I cannot lose this information as it is about 10 years worth of my scientifc work" type of stuff. The other 690GB... meh.
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Windows 7 Formatting External Hard Drive