USB External Hard Drive Error. Files Lost. Now Telling Me That It Is Not Formatted - HELP PLEASE!!!

Posted on 2004-11-17
Last Modified: 2010-04-03

Hello Everyone!  Need Help Please.

OS: Windows XP PRO (Ver 5.1, Service Pack 2, Build: 2600)

DELL PC ( 5 months old )

External USB Hardrive:  PINE 80GB/7200 USB EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE


I was working on a file located in this external hardrive.  After I had printed a document - the file froze.   I accessed the Windows Task Manager to see the running applications and see that what I was working on sated " Not Responding ".
So I "END TASK".  When this was done all of these errors popped up and a window stating REPORT TO MICROSOFT..etc.  and I clicked YES.
When everything closed and I tried to access my external hard drive.. it states now that the DRIVE IS NOT FORMATTED ... WOULD YOU LIKE TO FORMAT NOW?  
Of course I did not.. knowing by formatting the drive will erase whatever files are inside.
I tried everything, from re-starting my computer, to system restore..etc.  I even connected the hard drive on another computer I have and that one shows the files but all the folders are empty!
Please advise me on how to fix this and what I should do.
Please do help me... I have over a year worth of work that is inside and need it immediately.
Thank you in advance to anyone who answers my post.


Question by:JenSGVibert
    LVL 15

    Expert Comment

    Try to get the data out with " Get Data Back for NTFS ", from

    Just follow this link ""

    Did it work? Let us know !

    Best Regards and Good Luck !
    LVL 3

    Accepted Solution

    Not good. On first try to do a exact sector-by-sector, disk-to-image copy of this disk on other PC machine, by using Symantec Ghost or other similiar software. Caution: sector-by-sector, do not use any FAT/NTFS filesystem optimize option. This operation will give you a backup copy of your important data.

    Probably your disk has got damaged logical structure - boot sector, FAT copies, NTFS MFT  or something. So try to recover data from disk with help of "check disk" utility. Right click on disk in windows explorer window, choose properties\tools, click "Check now" button, select all check options and OK.

    If data on disk is very worthy to you, you may be interested in commercial, professional recovery data service. See on example.
    Good luck
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    You can use one of the tools below to restore the Data:
    PC Inspector:


    OnTrack DataRecovery:


    Other Data Recovery Tools:

    some freeware to restore the filesystem:

    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    It appears that your Ntfs table somehow got corrupted- this happens - there are two solutions to your problem
     -risky and invasive one - use program to replace the corrupted ntfs table (There usually is another additional copy of the partition table on your hdd).    mom&pops computer shop kind of advice - DO IT ONLY AFTER TRYING NON-INVASIVE METHODS FIRST! if you get it wrong, you may cause further corruption to the data.

    - second solution - non invasive and safe (used by data recovery techs). Connect the bad guy to a working windows environment - use data recovery software with ability to pick up MFT's (addressess) of all the files regardless whether partition table is present or not.
    "Get data back" for Ntfs will scan your entire hdd and then show you partitions upon which you can build the file structure & recover. Green for good , valid partition, orange for one with little corruption etc. - sometimes a whole bunch of choices that will affect number of recoverable files and data integrity ratio.  It's not the best program out there.
    I recommend R-studio ( - quicker, and more automatic with picking up the file structure. Of course always save recovered data onto different drive. Verify data integrity before you say HurraY!   Once you save , verify all the data you may feel free to do some fixing on the hdd.  


    Author Comment


    Hello Everyone!

    Sorry for my delay in posting back!  Computer problems you know! ;o)

    Thank you everyone for your suggestions!

    To: mcp_jon > Sorry, I want to try something that does not require me to purchase it.  Completely broke at the moment.

    To: rkotowic > Tried Scan-Disk - the hdd is being read as not formatted and nothing happens.  Will try your other suggestions though. I will let you know.

    To: rkotowic   Thank you for all of the links!  Will look into all of them and keep you updated!

    To: datarecoveryman > Thank you for your explaination on what may have happened to my hdd.  Yes, I will definitely take your advise and make sure to try out all non-invasive methods first.  Will look into the R-Studio site.  Will make sure to keep you posted.

    Thank you all so much... I have a lot of researching to do and hope to get my files back.

    WIll let you know what happens!  Wish me luck!


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