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Hard Drive Not Initialized and Missing Drive Letter

Posted on 2009-04-12
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
Dear Expert,

My Western Digital MyBook USB 1TB recently died on me. As I was accessing the drive via Windows Vista Explorer, it suddenly became very slow eventually hanging on me. I restarted the PC but the drive was no longer detectable.

The hard disk is still under warranty but I want to recover the data before taking it back to the supplier. I have also received authorisation from WD that it would be okay if I did my own data recovery by opening the casing. So this is what I did. I went to buy a USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE cable and hooked it all up.

When I switched on the power supply of the cable, my PC detected the WD, but no drive letter was assigned. I went to Disk Management and it says the disk is Not Initialized and the size of the drive was only 22.43 GB and the same was 22.43 GB Unallocated. There were ever only 1 partition and that was the physical primary. What ever happened to the hard drive behaving like this and the remaining space - 1TB to only 22.43 GB? Please see attached image.

I am concerned that the data is not recoverable. I have been reading elsewhere on Google that it is wise not to proceed with the Initialization as this will wipe out all data.

My data dates back many years - some are critical and some are sentimental like family photos.

Thanks for your assistance.

Frohike
WD-Problem.jpg
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Question by:Frohike
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nobus earned 125 total points
ID: 24125236
what i would do - is hook the drive directly to the ide or sata port - it eliminates an interface layer.
then - try recovery software, here some links of the best :
http://www.pcinspector.de/file_recovery/UK/welcome.htm                  pc Inspector -free
      http://www.stellarinfo.com/                              Stellar
      http://www.runtime.org/                              GetDataBack
      http://www.ontrack.com/                              Ontrack
      http://www.recovermyfiles.com/                        RecoverMyFiles
http://www.ontrack.com/easyrecoveryprofessional/                        Easy Recovery

if this does not work,  try replacing the logic board, with the same model and firmware
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by:dbrunton
ID: 24126706
Try the recovery software as nobus suggests.  

I'd recommend GetDataBack first.  Note if GetDataBack works you have to pay for full use of it as the download is only for trial.  If it does work try some of the others as some of the ones suggested are free.

If they don't work and this is possible and they report your disk size as 22.43 Gb then you may need to reset the disk size.

Try the HDD Capacity Restore Tool http://hddguru.com/content/en/software/2007.07.20-HDD-Capacity-Restore-Tool/
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Expert Comment

by:unyot
ID: 24126941
had to work on this similar problem at least twice for two diff clients. HDD suddenly is not recognized by windows and if you check at disk management it says unallocated. Tried partition table doctor (http://www.ptdd.com/) and both were fixed without having to do any data recovery. Most likely it is just a corrupted partition information. YMMV though.
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Expert Comment

by:coredatarecovery
ID: 24126949
Most likely the circuit board under the drive is shot on a western digital External hard disk.

They tend to overheat when heavily used or in dusty/smoker environments.

You may be able to find a new circuit board on ebay and replace the circuit board underneath the drive with the exact same firmware revision as you have.

This will cost you about 39.00 including shipping.

You will need to ground yourself properly, use a Torx - 9 or 8 to remove the screws from the circuit board and you can replace it.


If you cannot obtain parts, You can send it to us and get your data back.
(Cost is between $799 and $1799) depending on the situation.

Good luck with the cheap attempt, It will work approximately 60% of the time for a 1 TB western digital external unit.


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Author Comment

by:Frohike
ID: 24127914
Thanks for all your replies. I will have to read up on these applications and try them out before I buy. They sound promising.

I'm not very technical. Not sure I want to play around with the hardware as I may further add to the problem. Taking the casing apart and hooking up a cable is as skilled as I can be.

Will report back on my progress.
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Expert Comment

by:coredatarecovery
ID: 24127934
If you can find something like this, it will help you diagnose the problem.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812232002

It makes it easy to test the drive once you pull it from the enclosure.

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Expert Comment

by:coredatarecovery
ID: 24127942
(It's a USB to IDE/SATA adapter)
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Author Comment

by:Frohike
ID: 24235592
Hi, sorry for the belated response. Hvae been very busy recently.

I have been tyring to run GetDataBack and afer waiting a couple of hours for it to scan the entire hard drive, it returned nothing.

Have I the right settings in GetDataBack?
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Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 24235641
Quite possibly.

Let's try R-Studio http://www.data-recovery-software.net/

There's a free version to try.  Try that and see what it finds.  The fact that GetDataBack has found nothing is disturbing ...
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Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 24235652
This may be formatted as FAT32 so make sure which ever util you get supports FAT32.  GetDataBack has a NTFS and a FAT32 version.  Check which version you have.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 24236373
and try others as well; what some cannot recover, others might...
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Expert Comment

by:coredatarecovery
ID: 24237349
What size is the drive attached to the USB, (Did it change?)

You could be having a problem with the hard disk itself. It's very disturbing that you did not see any data with get data back.

What model is the hard disk in question?
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Expert Comment

by:coredatarecovery
ID: 24237386
Yes, if you are running getdataback for NTFS, it will give you NO results after searching if the drive was FAT32

If you formatted it FAT32 (For a 1TB drive)

That would explain the 28GB partition thing (Because 32Gb is the max size of the default windows fat32 partition)

SO, do this, go download get data back for FAT. Run that and as it runs, you will see it find tons of records.

you can then recover these files, then you can send it off and get a new one.

There is a good chance that it was FAT32 at some point.
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Author Comment

by:Frohike
ID: 24316381
Have been busy again - apologies to everyone.

The GetDataBack I dowloaded was NTFS ver, I will have to download the FAT32 ver and scan with it.

I'm worried too. If  Disk Management says I have only 22.43 GB does this mean there are missing records as, from memory, I had way more than 22.43 GB on the drive before it died.

If my memory servces me well, the hard drive was pre-formatted NTFS. But I could be wrong.

Model is Western Digital MyBook USB/eSATA/Firewire400 1TB Homne Edition.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 24316572
that is surely an ntfs drive...
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