Setup: Windows XP SP2 with the latest updates from windows update
Harddisk (apart from the internal ones) Freecom USB 160 GB (external) connected to an USB 2.0 card.
Everything worked fine until a few hours ago when I got an error message from Windows (write delay failed). I've experienced this before with the same harddrive and i think it is to do with the fact that 2 apps that I'm working on are writing a lot of small files in 2 directories and it probably met the max number of inodes (or the equivalent term in windows) for that dir and the ntfs table was messed up. so typically in such situation i'd reboot the pc then do a chkdsk (forcing the volume to be unmounted) and that would fix the problem.
So I thought the same would apply. I've rebooted the pc and noticed that the X: drive (which was the USB hard disk) was no longer mounted (i.e. there was no X: drive). Checked the power (the power light is on on the adapter) then checked the USB connection (the green light on the harddisk which indicates USB connection is on) and that was ok. I even noticed that the blue light goes on occasionally (indicating some disk activity).
So I checked the driver manager and reports a problem with the USB mass storage device (device cannot be started). the driver manager keeps refereshing every 30 seconds or and sometimes it shows the device fine (even though it still doesn't mount the X: drive) and then it refreshes and shows the device having a problem again.
This is when i noticed that the green light on the harddrive goes on and off as the harddrive refreshes. I thought it might be the USB card, but all the other devices are working fine. I've even swapped the harddrive connection with other USB devices connected to check whether the USB was knackered but it seems that's not the case. I've tried different USB cables and the same problem occurs. Still, when plugging or unplugging the hard disk, the sound that windows normally makes when devices are plugged in can be heard.
I cannot run a chkdsk because drive X is not recognized. The disk volume doesn't appear in the volume manager either.
My problem is that ideally I'd like to recover all the data on the disk, however, failing that, how could I possibly make windows "see" the disk device so in the worst-case scenario at least I can format it?
Any suggestion is really welcome.