Windows Wants To Format Hard Drive usb

Have a Western Digital 200GB external hard drive that I've been using for awhile.
Just tonight, I plugged it into my Windows Vista Machine and after about 1 minute (normally loads up in about 10-15seconds) it reports that it must be formatted in order to access.

Of course I don't want to format it, since it's my back up drive and is now my soul source for a lot of data.  

I'm assuming it there is logical error on the drive - I'm currently running FileScavenger and it appears to be finding files - but before I do anything that may permanently destroy files,  I'm reaching out for suggestion on my next move.
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You can attempt to use chkdsk /f on the drive, but I doubt it's going to work.  Do you "eject" the drive before you unplug it?  Most people don't and it ends up screwing up the File System.  Windows is constantly doing maintenance on the File System, so even though you aren't currently copying files to your drive, you'll still want to eject it first ("Safely Remove Hardware").  

What you're already doing now is your best bet.  Once you've retrieved what you can, download Ultimate Boot CD and run the Hitachi Drive Fitness Test on your drive (depending on your machine, you may have to take the drive out of the enclosure and physically hook it up to the computer).

Once you know if the drive is OK, you can format it and continue to use it.  If it fails, then... sorry.

I feel your pain, tho.  Been there, done that.


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Try Ubuntu LiveCD to see if it can read it as-is. I've had it read NTFS partitions that Windows saw as RAW. Ubuntu may also report SMART events to describe the problem. Might not report SMART with USB drives.

If Ubuntu can't read it as-is, make an image of the disk so that you can recover (or re-recover) as many times as you need to. Clonezilla will work for this. You don't want to make any permanent changes to the drive before you image it. You also don't want to read the drive multiple times as it is failing.

After you have an image, use any tool you like.
R-Studio is one option among many.
i would first test if it happens on other PC's as well.
if so, you can try to access the disk with a live Knoppix cd (similar to Ubuntu) :

if you cannot access the disk,  you have 2 options : the usb bridge or the disk is bad.

try connecting the disk directly to Sata or IDe port.   if that is ok, your usb bridge is bad, and you just have to buy an external enclosure.

does it have it's own power cable?  if not, connect it thru a powered usb hub.

I would also suggest  CERTAINLY  not to run chkdsk !!!
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This is more than likely not a fried USB bridge. It could be a messed up allocation table or something of the sort. There are multiple ways to go about this.

I would take the safest, clone the drive and try to restore the table from the clone, leaving the drive alone and in a safe, non static area.

This is solely direction, and not full technical advice. If it were my data, and I had a backup, I'd probably attempt to repair the partition

Also, if you run chkdsk, run it so it does not correct errors. chkdsk has saved one hard drive for me, all the security info was removed and I had chkdsk rewrite it all, it took approximately 24 hours to do so, but the data was in tact and corruption was gone.

This is the ONLY time I've had chkdsk help.
mcrose1968Author Commented:
I used checkdisk from the windows GUI to no avail.
Turns out the FileScavanger, found the files and restored.
I'm assuming it was a corrupted allocation

Thank you for the responses.
mcrose1968Author Commented:
My particular problem didn't have an answer someone could fully answer - but the responses all set me in the right direction
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