Question Hard Drive with data, Windows says needs formatting...

Dec 2, 2019
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I have two drives in this condition now actually. The first had been connected to a WD TV Live that had not been used in a while, in an external case that no longer can power the drive. Drive spins if I use a drive caddy, and I can see the drive letter in Windows.

The second is a second internal drive in my Dell laptop. I think it might have gotten some shock damage. The had gotten full, then I started having problems reading it. I started copying data from it to another location. Some of that data took a while to copy. However, I didn't get all of it, but planned to. I had to reboot my computer and Windows started 'repairing' the drive. Now Windows says the drive needs to be formatted. Thanks for screwing it up completely, Windows.

Anyway, I need advice on how to see my data on these drives again. I can't find any good information on all these "free" 'until you need to recover' tools.

Please help! Thanks!
 

popatim

Titan
Moderator
Testdisk has a little learning curve but is completely free. It comes bundled with PhotoRec which is also completely free. Depending on the types of files you are looking for, PhotoRec may be all that you need.

Here is the Step-by Step for Testdisk; the Download link is at the upper left of the page.
https://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Step_By_Step

In the case of the External, there are a few things to keep in mind.
  • if the WD TV formatted the drive then it is probably in a format that the PC cannot read. Installing one of the linux reader programs will give you access to copy data off.
  • it may be an issue with the new enclosure. Newer ones like to read drives in 4k mode while older ones users 512/512e. Which exact external HDD did you have? And which one do you have now? DMDE can help determine if this is the issue. (dmde.com)
 
Dec 2, 2019
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Thanks very much. I will look into the Testdisk.

I had tried the WD TV Live drive on it with one of those drive connector kit things, but the WD TV Live still couldn't see it. The WD TV Live uses the NTFS format for reading external drives. I suspect something happened that killed the drive enclosure circuit so that it can no longer power the drive. I removed it from the enclosure and can run it with the connection kit.
 
I also recommend DMDE. DMDE will find your partition(s) in a matter of seconds and display a Partitions window.

Note that some WD external drives are encrypted. Examining sector 0 with DMDE will confirm whether this is the case.
 
Dec 2, 2019
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I also recommend DMDE. DMDE will find your partition(s) in a matter of seconds and display a Partitions window.

Note that some WD external drives are encrypted. Examining sector 0 with DMDE will confirm whether this is the case.
Thanks. I will look into that DMDE tool. Though I do not know how to examine sector zero.
 
Dec 2, 2019
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Just start with the Partitions window. That will tell us a lot.
Hi. I am currently using the TestDisk software, and it has gotten some files from the laptop internal E: drive. After it found the partition I select 'P' to show files, which shows the first level folders on the drive.

I am choosing to retrieve by individual 1st layer folder rather than a bulk retrieval of everything. So far it has retrieved with no failures, but it has a long way to go. It is very slow going on some files, as in , over the past 14 hours is has retrieved 2 more files.
 

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