[SOLVED] Drives file system changed to RAW upon using an USB docking station

Feb 15, 2022
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Hi there,

Recently I've decided to update my hard drives to increase the overall data capacity. I've chosen HGST 6TB UltraStar 7K6000 7.2K 128MB SATA III 3.5' and a 4TB one, also by HGST. They are a typical high-durability server-grade drives. I own a docking station - Natec Kangaroo Dual, just like this one:


It is typically used to clone hard drives and perform manual operations on files. The interface is USB 3.0. I've tried to migrate some of the most important data first and prepare the drives before installing them in my PC. They were fully operational and displaying data to some point.

I. The problem - All 3 drives I've tried with this docking station (including newly acquired HGST ones) are rendered unusuable. The files got corrupted and I'm no longer able to access hard drives. Windows suggests formatting the drives which I'm not happy to do, as I have some extremely important data on the 4TB one.

Important note: Drives are not damaged and are rather healthy. Also, they are not encrypted.

II. What I've tried so far (I've tried those methods for all the drives but will use "F:" labeled one as an example:

1.) Restart my PC and access hard drives by double clicking their icons under "my computer" screen. I'm always prompted with "F: is not accessible. The disk structure is corrupted and unreadable"
2.) Right-click on disk icon under "my computer" window, click "properties", go to "Tools" and click on "Check" under "error tools" section. I've been prompted with "The disk check could not be performed because Windows can't access the disk".
2) I've tried to run CHKDSK /F /R as an administrator in "CMD.exe" and "Windows Powershell.exe" on corrupted drives. Overall I've got two types of prompts "Unable to determine volume version and state. CHKDSK aborted.", and second similar which I can't recall. Something to do with access privileges.
3). Perform operations mentioned in 2.) under "safe mode".
4.) Use different SATA cables, check their connections.
5.) Use disk management in order to determine if the hard drive is detected by Windows, as well as determine it's file system. Drives are detectable but their file system changed from "NTFS" to "RAW".
6.) Use 3rd party tool called "M3Data Recovery" in it's "Trial" version in order to confirm if the files are there and can be restored. Unfortunately "Trial" version limits the data recovery to just 2 GB.

III. My suspicions
I believe that the volume partition tables were somehow damaged by this docking station on all 3 drives. Mostly due to some type of "rude shutdown" it performs on drives once you click the physical "on/off" button.

I would love to get some help from you guys and gals. Can't afford to lose data on that 4TB drive.
 

Lafong

Respectable
https://www.partitionwizard.com/help/partition-recovery.html

Maybe some help at above link.

Minitool is an excellent tool, but I have no experience with the partition recovery section of it.

Use at your own risk.

My assumption would be that "scans" would not write to the disk. Repeat, "assumption".

Data recovery if the partition can't be recovered is likely to be either spotty or costly.

You get to decide what you will pay if you are forced to data recovery. Some tools will let you recover limited amounts and you pay for the rest. Some will show you a list of the recoverable. Some would require you to send them the drive, etc.

So, I'd hope that partition recovery is available and you don't have to resort to data recovery.

I think Minitool has more than one scan level, but you may not have to use the deeper scan to find out if the partition can be restored.

Pound on Google. There are several free options for data recovery, but not sure if there are better tools than Minitool for partition recovery.
 

Lafong

Respectable
I'd first concentrate on partition recovery rather than data recovery until all attempts at partition recovery fail.

If the partition tables can be restored, pretty good chance the files will still be available.

The important data on the 4 TB has no backup?

I'd probably look at Minitool Partition Wizard, starting with a quick scan, but I'm not personally skilled with partition recovery.

Writing to the drive would diminish your likelihood of data recovery if it comes to that.
 
Feb 15, 2022
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I'd first concentrate on partition recovery rather than data recovery until all attempts at partition recovery fail.

If the partition tables can be restored, pretty good chance the files will still be available.

The important data on the 4 TB has no backup?

I'd probably look at Minitool Partition Wizard, starting with a quick scan, but I'm not personally skilled with partition recovery.

Writing to the drive would diminish your likelihood of data recovery if it comes to that.
Thanks for the reply. The 4TB hard drive was briefly serving me as an external drive in a 3.5" enclosure, until I've decided to buy a 6TB one and put both inside my PC. The data stored in there has a backup but it's somehow outdated now, and the one used on, then external hard drive, was the most up to date.

I've installed Minitool Partition Wizard.
Mentioning this tool, did you have a specific option in mind?
What caught my attention was "Partition recovery wizard" but for the reasons stated by you (risk of writing something to the drive during attempts to restore access to it), I'm postponing taking any action, which might not be wise as well.
 

Lafong

Respectable
https://www.partitionwizard.com/help/partition-recovery.html

Maybe some help at above link.

Minitool is an excellent tool, but I have no experience with the partition recovery section of it.

Use at your own risk.

My assumption would be that "scans" would not write to the disk. Repeat, "assumption".

Data recovery if the partition can't be recovered is likely to be either spotty or costly.

You get to decide what you will pay if you are forced to data recovery. Some tools will let you recover limited amounts and you pay for the rest. Some will show you a list of the recoverable. Some would require you to send them the drive, etc.

So, I'd hope that partition recovery is available and you don't have to resort to data recovery.

I think Minitool has more than one scan level, but you may not have to use the deeper scan to find out if the partition can be restored.

Pound on Google. There are several free options for data recovery, but not sure if there are better tools than Minitool for partition recovery.
 
Feb 15, 2022
8
0
10
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https://www.partitionwizard.com/help/partition-recovery.html

Maybe some help at above link.

Minitool is an excellent tool, but I have no experience with the partition recovery section of it.

Use at your own risk.

My assumption would be that "scans" would not write to the disk. Repeat, "assumption".

Data recovery if the partition can't be recovered is likely to be either spotty or costly.

You get to decide what you will pay if you are forced to data recovery. Some tools will let you recover limited amounts and you pay for the rest. Some will show you a list of the recoverable. Some would require you to send them the drive, etc.

So, I'd hope that partition recovery is available and you don't have to resort to data recovery.

I think Minitool has more than one scan level, but you may not have to use the deeper scan to find out if the partition can be restored.

Pound on Google. There are several free options for data recovery, but not sure if there are better tools than Minitool for partition recovery.
Thanks for the link. Appreciate it :). So far it's scanning the drive using the "partition recovery wizard" tool. So far so good. It did recognize an "NTFS" partition but was unable to do anything further when I've aborted the scan. I've done so after the partition was found and I could choose it from the list. However, the wizard did not give me any further options, so I've decided to let it scan and finish the process in hope that I'll be presented with a set of solutions upon it's complete.

Unfortunately, I cannot afford any sort of recovery service. The very reason why there's no other proper backup of the most important thing in my life so far is solely related to my current financial situation.
 

Lafong

Respectable
I'm not positive you can recover a partition with the free version. Maybe?

I'd pound on their website to fish out that detail.

Here's some more clues I've gleaned in my earlier research regarding Minitool.

Use at your own risk:

Select Partition Recovery Wizard. Choose the drive, then full disk, quick scan. Quick Scan may take 5 or more hours.

If the partition is found select and double click on it. Should see all files in the Explorer.

If not found, presumably do a full scan rather than quick scan, but I'm not clear on when a full scan is necessary.

Close the Partition Explorer and click on Finish.

The Main Screen will show the restored Drive but may be without a drive letter.

Right click on the drive, click on Change letter and give a drive letter.

Click on Apply to execute the two pending operations.

The partition is restored and your drive will be functional as before and you can access the files and folders.

If Partition Recovery is successful, Partition Wizard will rewrite the partition table in the first sector and then you will be able to access all the data as before.

Hope that Partition Wizard does not show “bad disk” under the file system column in early stages before any scanning. A typical disk with a lost partition will instead show as either “unallocated” or “RAW”, which is usually fixable easily and means only that the first sector on the drive has been corrupted. “Bad disk” points to something other than a mere partition issue—hardware per se, and may require professional data recovery services.

Consider "Photorec" if data recovery is necessary. Free I think.
 
Feb 15, 2022
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Thanks for your response
I'm not positive you can recover a partition with the free version. Maybe?

I'd pound on their website to fish out that detail.

Here's some more clues I've gleaned in my earlier research regarding Minitool.

Use at your own risk:

Select Partition Recovery Wizard. Choose the drive, then full disk, quick scan. Quick Scan may take 5 or more hours.

If the partition is found select and double click on it. Should see all files in the Explorer.

If not found, presumably do a full scan rather than quick scan, but I'm not clear on when a full scan is necessary.

Close the Partition Explorer and click on Finish.

The Main Screen will show the restored Drive but may be without a drive letter.

Right click on the drive, click on Change letter and give a drive letter.

Click on Apply to execute the two pending operations.

The partition is restored and your drive will be functional as before and you can access the files and folders.

If Partition Recovery is successful, Partition Wizard will rewrite the partition table in the first sector and then you will be able to access all the data as before.

Hope that Partition Wizard does not show “bad disk” under the file system column in early stages before any scanning. A typical disk with a lost partition will instead show as either “unallocated” or “RAW”, which is usually fixable easily and means only that the first sector on the drive has been corrupted. “Bad disk” points to something other than a mere partition issue—hardware per se, and may require professional data recovery services.

Consider "Photorec" if data recovery is necessary. Free I think.
Thanks for the info. I'm at the very beginning of the scan. About 26 percent at this point.
A point I should make - I've tried to change volume letter via Window's GUI disk management tool, as well as via CMD. I was successful, did a restart but the problem still did persist. So far I've been prompted with "unallocated" and "RAW" on my journey. None of the drives behave in abnormal way (i.e. clicks or weird startup procedures like pause between spins of the platters).


SkyNetRising said:
Put the 4TB drive back into original enclosure and try to access data.
Thanks for the reply. I'll try that ASAP but I can't now as Minitool is still performing "partition recovery wizard" operations. It's at 28% at this moment. I guess that I should invite you guys for a beer and when we're finished, my PC should know what it wants.
 
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SkyNetRising said:
Put the 4TB drive back into original enclosure and try to access data.
Thanks for the reply. I'll try that ASAP but I can't now as Minitool is still performing "partition recovery wizard" operations. It's at 28% at this moment. I guess that I should invite you guys for a beer and when we're finished, my PC should know what it wants.
That was good advice. I suspect that your enclosure is configured with a 4KB sector size.

USB adapters silently change sector size:
https://www.klennet.com/notes/2018-04-14-usb-and-sector-size.aspx

BTW, I recommend DMDE. It's free version will find your data, and it will also tell you the original sector size under which your file system was formatted.

https://dmde.com/

Forget Minitool. DMDE will find your partition within seconds.
 
Feb 15, 2022
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That was good advice. I suspect that your enclosure is configured with a 4KB sector size.

USB adapters silently change sector size:
https://www.klennet.com/notes/2018-04-14-usb-and-sector-size.aspx

BTW, I recommend DMDE. It's free version will find your data, and it will also tell you the original sector size under which your file system was formatted.

https://dmde.com/

Forget Minitool. DMDE will find your partition within seconds.
Thanks a ton for the reply :) I'll try DMDE cause Minitool was unable to work any magic in here.

UPDATE: So far it's running a volume scan (54%):


Q: What should be my next steps? Should I let it finish scanning or it's possible to restore partition at this point?
 
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You shouldn't have needed to do a full scan. DMDE should have found your partition in the first window, something like this ...

http://www.users.on.net/~fzabkar/DMDE/DMDE_Elements-8TB_Partitions.jpg

If you d-click the correct 4TB partition, you should see your directory tree under the $Root. This all happens within seconds,

The initial Partitions window should identify the partition with a "4K" indicator. This tells you that the drive came out of a 4KB-sectored enclosure.

Just put the drive back in its enclosure and you will have access to your data.
 
Feb 15, 2022
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You shouldn't have needed to do a full scan. DMDE should have found your partition in the first window, something like this ...

http://www.users.on.net/~fzabkar/DMDE/DMDE_Elements-8TB_Partitions.jpg

If you d-click the correct 4TB partition, you should see your directory tree under the $Root. This all happens within seconds,

The initial Partitions window should identify the partition with a "4K" indicator. This tells you that the drive came out of a 4KB-sectored enclosure.

Just put the drive back in its enclosure and you will have access to your data.
DMDE is identyfying partitions correctly and is displaying info that they are formatted under NTFS, which is correct. However, they weren't labeled with an additional "4K" indicator. By the way, I've tried to inform myself about HDD sectoring and how external enclosures might affect it but I've failed to understand what it's all about. If you have time, can you kindly elaborate a bit more about it?

In a moment I'll shutdown my PC and try to put that 4TB drive back in it's original enclosure. I'll be updating this thread for future generations :)
 
I've tried to inform myself about HDD sectoring and how external enclosures might affect it but I've failed to understand what it's all about.
If you have time, can you kindly elaborate a bit more about it?
Short version:
drive data is accessible only in the enclosure, where drive was formatted.
If you move drive to a different enclosure or connect to pc directly (with sata cables), data will be inaccessible and you'll have to repartition/reformat the drive.

This is because external enclosures may use non-standard sector size settings during partitioning of the drive.
 
There is no "F" or "f" in the Indicators column in DMDE. This is telling us that DMDE was unable to find the NTFS metadata during its quick scan. This suggests that something was done to the drive other than merely moving it between enclosures.
 
Feb 15, 2022
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Short version:
drive data is accessible only in the enclosure, where drive was formatted.
If you move drive to a different enclosure or connect to pc directly (with sata cables), data will be inaccessible and you'll have to repartition/reformat the drive.

This is because external enclosures may use non-standard sector size settings during partitioning of the drive.
Thanks for the explanation. Do I understand well that despite hooking an external enclosure up to a device equipped with a modern OS, it's data might become interrupted just because there's some sort of difference in "sector size settings" in a printed board, where enclosure's firmware sits?


There is no "F" or "f" in the Indicators column in DMDE. This is telling us that DMDE was unable to find the NTFS metadata during its quick scan. This suggests that something was done to the drive other than merely moving it between enclosures.
Unfortunately, upon hooking the 4TB drive back to this external enclosure:



I receive the very same GUI prompt:



To say that I'm sad is to say nothing. So far I would love to get access to the data via an external enclosure - just as I've done in the past 2 months.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, lads.
 
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Feb 15, 2022
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Still unsuccessful with this one. Two questions revolve in my head:

  1. Why all this happened? Why all of a sudden this drive was rendered unusable?
  2. Why it's such a pain in the butt to restore it to at least any form of usability?
I'm fighting but honestly I'm losing hope. At one moment CKHDSK /R prompts that the drive is in RAW format, hence it cannot further proceed with operations. In the very next "Disk management" software in Win 10 OS lists the drive's partitions as "NTFS" formatted. In another, "TestDisk" stops at 99% while performing scan. On just another more, "CrystalDiskInfo64" doesn't seem to detect any issues with this HGST 4TB drive.

My only conclusion - as a complete amateur in this division of knowledge - is that there must've been some sort of data corruption leading to "partition table" damage. Most likely either my USB external HDD docking device is at fault or external HDD enclosure is.
 

Oasis Curator

Reputable
Apr 9, 2019
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Out of interest, did you use the little "Eject External Drive" when disconnecting from Windows?

I have never used it with pen drives / memory sticks but I do use it with hard drives to make sure Windows is happy to disconnect them. With some enclosures, it sends a shut down signal so the external hard drive turns off anyway.
 

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