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External Hard drive show unformatted

Posted on 2010-11-18
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Last Modified: 2013-11-05
I have an external USB 2.0 2TB hard drive that all of a sudden shows that it is unformatted.  Here is the background.

My old computer has two drives in a raid0 array that I used for storage.  The raid controller was bad, kept dropping the array but it would show back up when I reboot.  So I transferred all my data to a new WD 2TB external usb drive.  I used it several times to get little bits of information off it over the course of two weeks.  I got my new computer built, plugged in the external but it did not show in My Computer (Windows 7 Ultimate x64).  I went to disk manager and it shows the drive as unformatted! It was formatted as Fat32.
 
I plugged it into another computer and ran GetDataBackFat32, which has now been running for three days and is only at 31%.  It shows 258000+ files identified so far, but I do not know of those are going to be recoverable.  It seems to me that maybe just the partition information is missing.  Is there another way for me to fix this external so I can access the data?  It is a Western Digital.
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Question by:arstacey
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by:Gladys Kerns
Gladys Kerns earned 100 total points
ID: 34166025
If you feel brave - you could cancel the current "getdataback" operation and then re-run it specifying that you only want it to start-out by checking the partition tables.

I say "if you feel brave" because if your disk is in the process of crashing or getting ready to crash - you may only have so much time left.

3 days certainly sounds like way too long - but 2tb of data on a slow external HDD is a lot.
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by:sublifer
sublifer earned 100 total points
ID: 34166079
Unfortunately, if the partition information on the drive got wiped then the file recovery that you are running is pretty much all that you can do.

As a tip for future reference, Vista and Windows 7 don't play play nice with FAT/FAT32.  I've got several flash drives formatted in FAT and FAT32(maybe but definitely FAT) and every time I plug it into a system with Vista or Win7 it prompts me that the drive is unrecognized, would I like it to format the drive for me.  I always tell it no but can still access the data on the drive just fine.  I suspect you may have had the same prompt and accidentally hit the spacebar, enter key or clicked to allow it to format your drive.  Next time format your drive on your newest OS machine first.

Good luck.
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by:Michael-Best
ID: 34166223
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 34166743
Install any version of Paragon Drive Backup www.drive-backup.com then run it with this drive connected and send me the generated log from C:\Program Files\Paragon Software\Drive Backup\Program
I will check what causes it be unformatted.
Also with Volume Explorer tool of this Drive Backup you can copy out data from the drive quicker.
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Assisted Solution

by:spotcat
spotcat earned 100 total points
ID: 34194159
As there are so many files on this drive, of course it cost a long time to scan. The fastest way is to repair the drive and you can access the partition again without recovering the files. There's also risk to do this, as to repair the drive, the tool will write new info to the drive, if it works incorrect, it may cause files no longer recoverable. So I suggest you recover files and reformat the drive to use.
If you still want to repair the drive, you may drive active partition recovery, but this sector-to-sector copy this external drive to another drive, as it is safer.
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Author Comment

by:arstacey
ID: 34345458
Sorry for the long delay, I have been out of town for training and been unable to work on this.

GetDataBack was unable to recover any files.  Niether has any other type of undelete/unerase software I have tried.  What other options could I try?  Is there not a way to just restore the FAT partition table without reformatting the entire drive?  I have plugged it into Windows, Mac, and Linux clients and they all read it the same, as an unformatted drive.  
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Assisted Solution

by:noxcho
noxcho earned 100 total points
ID: 34345844
FAT is the worst table when you come to recovery needs. I think you can give up now or pay money for special recovery service such as www.gillware.com
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Assisted Solution

by:viki2000
viki2000 earned 100 total points
ID: 34345861
Why don't you try:
first: HDD Regenerator http://www.dposoft.net/
second: R-Studio http://www.r-studio.com/ 
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Accepted Solution

by:
arstacey earned 0 total points
ID: 34452815
Well, in the end I was unable to recover anything and can't really spend any more time messing with it.  However, I learned alot about HD recovery from all your comments.  Thanks for your help.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 34453125
Then close the question, Assign points if you want or request the question to be deleted.
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Author Comment

by:arstacey
ID: 34455696
Sorry, I did close it and assigned points to everyone involved but must have missed a step as it apparently didn't work.
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Author Closing Comment

by:arstacey
ID: 34479239
Just repeating my post so it will close.  Thanks for all your help.

"Well, in the end I was unable to recover anything and can't really spend any more time messing with it.  However, I learned alot about HD recovery from all your comments.  Thanks for your help."
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