How to restore data from a SATA drive using a USB 2.0 to SATA cradle


I have a user who dropped his laptop Dell Inspiron 1545 with Windows 7 and now it won't bootup.  It booted up past the Windows Logo with the status bar until it gets to a black screen with just the mouse pointer visilbe on screen which can move around.  I tried to boot from CD, same result.  I removed the hardrive and I tried using a USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE cable.  This device allows me to insert the hardrive in a cradle and connect it to a PC via USB 2.0.  The hardrive from the damaged laptop appears as a USB drive.  However, I am unable to explore the drive or see the contents of it.  It comes back with a windows popup asking me if I want to Format the drive, Yes/No?  Naturally I don't want to format the data as I need to get some data from the drive of the damaged laptop.  Has anyone got any advice, tips or tricks to enable me to restore the data from the drive without formatting it please?  Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
P spillaneAsked:
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Can't you connect it directly to the PC, not via USB? If it is a SATA HD then you should just be able to attach it as a 2nd disk, this would bypass any issues USB might cause.

Then scan it using getdataback, and if the data is visible via that tool, register it so you can copy the data off. After that get a new HD.

But of course, a professional recovery company as suggested by dlethe is a safer option, but also more costly, so it depends on how important the data is to the customer.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
perform a chkdsk on the disk.
The disk is clearly damaged.  Do not do a chkdsk. Turn it off.  Every moment the disk is powered on risks further loss.    

Your customer is in need of a professional data recovery firm.
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P.S.   The reason you get this strange behavior is due to the bridge chip inside the SUB/SATA enclosure.  I'd bet that even if you answered yes to reformatting, you would then immediately get an error.   The bridge chips are not designed to propagate proper error messages with faulty hardware.  In fact, it isn't possible, as there is both a protocol and electrical conversion.  If you want to to even try running diagnostics, you need a a native ATA interface

But diagnostics are pointless.  The only diagnostic you need is staring you in the face, and the disk failed it.
Do you have full disk encryption installed on your laptops?

Could be that.
A good solution to recover your files is to try the Ontrack software :
Ontrack EasyRecovery Professional

you can try it here :

Put your hard disk on an external usb adapter for example or in another PC as slave disk.

it worked for me many times.
Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
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