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Partitions are no longer recognized on usb disk

Posted on 2004-08-15
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Last Modified: 2011-09-20
Hello

I have an external usb harddisk with one partition and of course several files on it. I used it to transfer files from one pc to another. Till now I never had problems with it.

Today I experienced the problem, that the disk will be recognized on the new pc, but when trying to access it OS (Windows XP) asserts the disk is not formatted and offers to format it.

I moved the disk back to the first pc, but there now I'm having the same problem.

It seems that OS recognizes the disk and assigns a drive letter, but is no longer able to read partition table.

I don't want to reformat the disk, because I don't want to loose about 100 GB of data.

How can I make, that Window XP is able to read the disk properly again?

Thank you
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Question by:navigo
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Expert Comment

by:AshuraKnight
Comment Utility
Is it formatted using NTFS ?
If it does then ... you are in almost same situation with me last week :)

Try check the disk via disk management (control panel --> administrative tools)
By any chance, is the disk type becomes Dynamic Drive instead of Single ?

If it does then you should get your data back using GetDataBack from runtime.org
In trial mode it will still try to find recoverable data in your HDD.
And if it can get all your data, you need to purchase it :)

But it worth it, considering your 100GB of data.
Btw, mine is 40gb of data and I've almost lost my mind :P

Sigh. This is what backup for !

And gd luck :)
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Assisted Solution

by:lexicon_dominus
lexicon_dominus earned 350 total points
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Hello;
It's most likely that partition table has been corrupted. There are some methods that you can rebuild your partition table.
1- Go to http://www.majorgeeks.com/download4129.html and download Partition Table Doctor. It's a commerical program but install the demo version to see if it can identify your hard disk. ( I had the same problem and solved using this program )
2- The second program to use is  DiskPatch which can be downloaded from http://www.diydatarecovery.nl/~tkuurstra/DiskPatch.htm
3- If you know low-level programming you can try to rebuild the partition info by your hand: http://www.datarescue.com/laboratory/partition2.htm
4- If above methods doesn't work you can at least try to recover your lost data.
Check http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Q_20699737.html

Hope those helps...
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Expert Comment

by:Dynamic1
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Take the disk out of the USB inclosure. Put it in your compouter as a slave see if that works. It will eliminate any chances of the USB electronics being bad and let you get your data back.
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Expert Comment

by:Popeyediceclay
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Can you switch to the drive letter from command line?  Try running chkdsk with full tests on it, have fixed many partitions that way (takes a looong time)
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Author Comment

by:navigo
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I' m trying several options, till now I can't say which will eventually work. It takes a long time to check the disk with the different programs.

I'll let you know

Thank you
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Expert Comment

by:Popeyediceclay
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When working with 100 GB, everything will take a long time :)

chkdsk is a built-in windows command line tool, run chkdsk /? to see the options
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Author Comment

by:navigo
Comment Utility
I tried to run chkdsk on external hard drive, but it pretends that' s a row disk, so chkdsk can't be run.

I tried Partition Table Doctor but it doesn't run under WinXP. I got emergency disks but usb drivers recommended on home page aren't accepted, so external disk is not recognized. Do anybody know alternative usb drivers to be used with Partition Table Doctor?

Thank you
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Expert Comment

by:Popeyediceclay
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Perhaps Dynamic1 is right, try removing the disk from the case and mounting it in place of your CD-ROM or something
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Expert Comment

by:Popeyediceclay
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Have you looked into XP's "Disk Management" mmc?  I read in another forum:

the drive might be showing as "Foriegn" in the disk management applet. Simply importing the foriegn disk should bring it up.

Not sure what that means, worth a quick look though
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Expert Comment

by:tpilg
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Oh dear. You didn't take remove it from a Windows XP machine without using the "safely remove hardware" utility first. I have had a flash card corrupted (and had to reformat it so it will work again) when I unplugged it without this utility.
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Author Comment

by:navigo
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I unplugged it when the pc was down.
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Expert Comment

by:Popeyediceclay
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Does it show up in Disk Managment?  When you right-click it, what are your options?
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Author Comment

by:navigo
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Yes it shows up in Disk Management. When I right-click all options are available, e.g. I can change Drive Letter, but when I choose to check the disk I got the message disk unformatted, do you want to format?
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Author Comment

by:navigo
Comment Utility
I found a pc wit WinMe. Now I can run Partition Table Doctor on the external disk. I could rebuild Partition Table, disk space is now recognized as unallocated. Second I ran fixboot. It's running since 48 hours searching......

Do anybody know if it is normal?
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Accepted Solution

by:
Popeyediceclay earned 150 total points
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No, that's definitely not normal.  Cancel that and try downloading a copy of Acronis RecoveryExpert, if you didn't destroy the partiton it should help bring it back
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Author Comment

by:navigo
Comment Utility
OK, I tried to get back partition table without success.

Then I used Ontrack Easy Recovery and with it I could recover most of my files.

I would like to thank all that have partecipated in this forum.

But...could somebody tell me how it is possible, that you unplug an usb disk after shutting down a computer and then you have to realize that your partition table has gone?
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Expert Comment

by:Popeyediceclay
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Hard to explain, if you shutdown your computer correctly it should demount the USB drive safely.  The only times you should develop problems are if the power cuts out or you pull the USB cable prematurely
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